An engaged workforce is important in any organisation. Happier employees work harder, champion your brand and have lower rates of absenteeism, all of which is good for your bottom line.
But many organisations struggle to provide that engagement. In its last major report on the topic, Gallup found that in 2012 only 24 per cent of Australian employees considered themselves engaged, with the remainder not engaged or even actively disengaged. Clearly, there’s room for improvement.
The first hurdle is figuring out how to reach them. Email is an increasingly ignored method of communication. Take the Maria Sharapova doping scandal earlier this year. The tennis player admitted not reading the World Anti-Doping Agency’s emails about changes to the banned substances list, so a journalist from The New York Times asked other tennis professionals if they had read it. None had.
If people aren’t willing to look at an email that could end their career, what hope do your general internal communications have? You need to interact with your employees where they’re most engaged and, in this era of online streaming and social media, that’s through video.
Video removes many barriers to effective communication, and not just because millennials are more likely to teach themselves how to play the guitar by watching a YouTube tutorial than booking lessons. It overcomes the limitations of a geographically diverse workforce that’s not always sat in front of a computer but can watch a video on their phones.
It’s something John Holland discovered when the construction and engineering giant wanted to introduce its new CEO to 5000 employees around the country. Because many of them liked “analogue social” (also known as talking face to face), it decided to use video.
“We had 1000 hits on the first day, and it was full engagement to the end. People wanted to check out the new guy,” John Holland’s ICT Mobility Program Manager, Paul Gaudion, told Viostream’s Employee Engagement Seminar in Melbourne on Wednesday morning.
Video gets attention but that doesn’t mean you can throw up any old garbage. And if the aim is improving engagement, it’s important to really involve employees, not just put out an annual 20-minute CEO address. Here are some tips that will help you do that successfully:
Be User-Generated, But Give People Time
“It was a new tool, people didn’t know how it worked, they were shy and needed a nudge,” Bupa’s Head of Internal Communications, Lizzy Geremia, told the seminar. The healthcare group’s Australian arm wanted to make video a cornerstone of its drive to be more collaborative and social at work. It promoted “Happier Week” with employees around the globe encouraged to share what makes them happier at work. A fun video in which a dance instructor came to the offices to involve employees in the “Bupa dance” was used to break the ice and got people on board. For Darren Vukasinovic, Head of Content Strategy for Digital Platforms at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, getting people comfortable in front of a camera is the key. He often gets people to re-enact their favourite film scenes as a warm-up.
Create An Environment For Video
While Bupa’s staff were getting their boogie on, the company was unveiling Workplace, an intranet with a social media vibe, giving staff more freedom for what they posted. There was also a video wall for “Happier Week” so you could see what everyone was contributing. It had 44,000 visits and 2000 submissions, 135 of which were videos. The average engagement time was more than three and a half minutes.
You want to be able to distribute your video in multiple channels by say, posting it on the intranet and then embedding it in your internal newsletter, Geremia says. This maximises the value you get from each video, but also allows employees to discover content in the format that’s meaningful for them.
Don’t restrict yourself to a talking head sitting at a desk. The “walk and talk” technique used by TV shows like CSI and Law & Order provides a visual element to dialogue-heavy scenes. It will also enliven your communication videos by giving them an informal air. As a bonus, Vukasinovic says mapping out a physical pathway with a defined endpoint is a good way to train talent to keep it concise.
Balance Quantity And Quality
“Content at scale is challenging,” Shootsta CEO Mike Pritchett says. That goes double if you’re creating lengthy, highly-produced videos. But there’s value in developing a fast, always-on content culture. Staff need guidance on the basics of creating watchable content since according to Pritchett “authentic doesn’t mean it should look crap”. However, if you know how to wield a smartphone properly, you can create worthwhile videos. The more content you generate the better your employees will get at appearing in it. “If you’re able to produce content every day, you get very comfortable with it,” Pritchett says.
Have Oversight, But Don’t Stifle
Obviously, you need to ensure that your video content is in line with your corporate objectives, goals and legal obligations. But beyond that, don’t define your user-generated content too narrowly. One of John Holland’s most successful campaigns was a competition for employees to submit their own video on worker safety. One result was using a watermelon to demonstrate what could happen to a co-worker’s head if a small object was carelessly dropped from a height on a building site.
Be Employee Led
Just as you should let staff express themselves creatively, you should also be guided by their response. Using metrics to measure how long it takes to click away will help you develop content they want to watch. It will also dictate your approach. When viewing is increasingly mobile, it means that for every employee who watches it at their desk, there will be another who’s watching it on the bus with no sound on. In that case, it would be worth investing in features such as captions to give them the freedom to consume it in a way that suits their needs.
Video gives you the opportunity to do so much more to engage your employees. Make them your partner and you’ll create a conversation that benefits them as much as it does your business.
Nick Whitehead is Head of Marketing at Viostream. He is on a mission to help businesses engage people, customers and stakeholders through live and on-demand streaming. Discover how to drive your employee engagement with video in this webinar
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