During my days as a ride operator at Kings Island, we had our little codes that referred to the things that our guests did or did not do.  One of them, RIF, still remains as one of my favorites.  RIF is an acronym for Reading Is Fundamental.  I was known to utter this phrase to a coworker when something listed on a sign multiple times was missed and needlessly caused distress.  Sadly, this remains one of the most relevant things to our world today and I find myself thinking this phrase to myself at least once or twice a week.

In his opening keynote this morning at the 2013 Illinois SHRM conference, Dr. Daniel Crosby cited some frightening statistics related to reading.

First, 27 percent of population of the United State holds a bachelor’s degree.  Of that 27 percent, a full 42 percent never read a book again after their academic careers are over.  This leads to the most disturbing statistic of all for me.  A full 80 percent of US households do not either buy or check out a book in any given year.

Dr. Crosby summarized by stating that means that 4 out of 5 households are more likely to get their learning from Duck Dynasty or Honey Boo Boo than from a good (or even bad!) book.

This folks, is frightening!

What does this mean for our workplaces and what we do in HR?  

Think about this as you plan for that next big workforce initiative or new innovation.  The decision about how we communicate something can become even more important than the something we are talking about.  Perhaps we are moving toward a future where reading will not be as fundamental.  As an avid reader, that bothers me a lot!  However, it can mean a shift to recorded messages on video, using social media effectively (although that still requires reading!) or even face-to-face conversations.  The media matters more than ever!

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