Looking Back Before Moving Forward

Jason Bacaj | 5 min read

Few headlines are easier to ignore than ones that look like they were copy-and-pasted together because everyone was out for the holidays.

Then we thought about it, though, the more we realized looking back at minor milestones can provide useful perspective and deeper understanding of how and why you are where you are. So, we decided to take the aggregation approach a step further.

In that spirit we leafed through content we shared in 2018 and curated this collection of useful news-you-can-use and for-instances pieces. One shows you what company culture looks like in action. Another offers a template to drive LMS engagement and training success. Another on how our core philosophy has grown and evolved to address the ever-changing L&D landscape. And, of course, one that details a best practice regularly overlooked by videographers and how to implement it.

Go ahead and skim around for the bits relevant to you. We don’t mind. It’s 2019.


In 2018 we formalized our dog policy. Wisetail HQ has always been a comfortable, laidback space. The team is relatively small and everyone knew everyone else’s dogs. Things were fine, but we knew that as our team grew we needed to formalize the policy before HQ our fuzzy friends launched the cutest coup d’etat ever.

It probably would’ve been easier to just say ‘no more dogs.’ Allowing pets in the workplace can far outweigh the costs, however. Pets lower blood pressure and cortisol (stress) levels, while also boosting productivity and morale in the office. Beyond that, having a petiquette policy shows employees you care about their lives outside of work, which can give you an edge when it comes to recruiting, retention, and morale.

Setting a dog policy might seem like small potatoes or insignificant, but think about it as a concrete example of the company living up to its manifesto and stated values. As they say, it’s important to walk the walk if you talk the talk.

Best Practices

Our video producer Nick Brilleaux made an incisive case for captions.

Despite video’s overwhelming popularity and its increasingly ubiquitous presence online, most producers and marketers continue to neglect a major facet of video: captions. If you’re not providing captions for your videos, you’re missing out on more views, improved search engine optimization, and the maximum potential return on your investment.

Captions have been estimated to increase viewership by upwards of 40%. They make videos more accessible — approximately 466 million people worldwide are affected by mild to severe hearing loss — and data shows that most Facebook users have videos muted when scrolling on mobile. Adding captions is relatively simple and inexpensive, and there’s a quick ‘how-to’ in Nick’s post.

L&M Supply's LMS, The Lodge, features an Item of the Month category where users can learn more about the respective each month and come up with new techniques for making sales.

Case Study

One of our favorite examples of a partner using their learning management system in an effective, clever way comes from L&M Supply. Leadership at L&M tasked Michelle Graber, Training Manager, with launching a monthly sales challenge across the company’s nine locations.

Michelle knew the challenge would drive employees to the company LMS, called The Lodge, and that people need a scorecard if they’re going to reach a goal. So she launched the sales challenge and updated each location’s sales figures every week.

Not only did the sales challenge work — for one item monthly sales increased by 5,700% compared to the year prior — but Michelle’s weekly updates helped boost LMS engagement. On average since the sales challenge launched, involuntary engagement has consistently been above 90% and voluntary engagement has never dipped below 80%.

“When our category managers go to buying shows they’re actually looking for something to bring in that would be a good Item of the Month,” Michelle told us. “It’s great to see the participation at all levels with this challenge, all using our LMS as a platform for success.”

Apex Conference Recap

We introduced a concept at our sixth annual user conference, APEX. The idea has taken shape here at Wisetail over the years, and it’s that training and development can be thought of as a learning ecosystem. Training and L&D success — which we define, in part, as an organization that contributes to employees’ overall well-being, development, and growth — is dependent on a harmonious mixture of people, culture, and tools.

The precise formula is different for each organization, of course. Our close partnerships with vibrant, thriving companies have led us to recognize the rhythms that lead to successful learning ecosystems. Six pillars that support healthy learning ecosystems:

Grow: Growth is essential, even though its meaning shifts from person to person. Some people want leadership opportunities. Others want to learn and grow within their current roles and deepen their knowledge and expertise.

Communicate: Communication involves structure, clarity, and understanding. Consider the value of well-defined job descriptions, how essential they are to setting clear expectations for employees. Good communication fosters trust and can have an outsized impact on people’s impression of your organization.

Know: Developing knowledge is the purpose of a learning ecosystem. What that means in practice is ensuring easy access to learning material, frequently updating the content to keep learning fresh and relevant for employees, and providing opportunities to learn skills outside their core job.

Thrive: Work is only part of the puzzle of overall happiness and well-being. Thriving means taking into account each person as a whole — mentally, emotionally, physically — and giving teams the tools to prioritize overall health and wellness.

Be: This pillar speaks to the balance in a learning ecosystem between employee empowerment and operational discipline. Move too far in one direction and things fall apart. Find an equilibrium, however, and creativity and growth abound.

Recognize: This is key because recognition shows employees that you value their effort and contributions. Recognition can come in a number of forms, from a strategic, leadership-backed plan to informal spontaneous praise. Common themes of effective recognition are that it’s given in a specific, sincere, and timely manner.

If you’ve made it this far we hope you found the exercise useful. At the very least, you’ve learned a little about our foundational understanding of L&D and how it might benefit your organization.