In recognition of the lack of cohesion in our country right now – and in recognition of Black History Month – the above photo seemed apt. Now, on to business.

How would you refine the following sentence?

Our Department and the Human Resources folks are working together in a joint collaboration to shake-up the formula for the Winter staff retreat, and use the event to spark more teamwork.

Capitalization and punctuation

1. Every capital letter, after the “O” to start the sentence, should be lowercase. We need initial caps in department names only when giving the official name, such as “Human Resources Department.” And the seasons are always lowercase – unless, of course, they appear in a title (e.g., “our annual Winter Wonderland event”).
2. The hyphen in “shake-up” is wrong because we’re not talking about “a shake-up,” as in “a shake-up of our staff.” Here it’s two separate words: “shake” and “up.”
3. The comma after “retreat” is not needed because we don’t have a new subject and verb – only a new verb, “use.”

My real motive

But those distractions were just decoys. I wanted to challenge you to catch the redundancy in “together,” “joint,” and “collaboration.” We need to watch out for using words like “joint,” “collaborate,” “share,” “mutual,” and “together” … well, together. Often, just one will suffice. So the edited sentence might look like this:

Our department and the human resources folks are collaborating to shake up the formula for the winter staff retreat and use the event to spark more teamwork.

You can go to to learn more about my workshops on writing in the workplace, individual coaching, editing, and handbook – 100+ Instant Writing Tips. Thank you.

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