Leverage Video for Internal Communications

There is power in using videos in internal communications, and the power is based on neuroscience. An MIT team of neuroscientists found that the human brain can process whole images viewed with the eyes in a mere 13 milliseconds. Vision finds concepts, transmits the information to the brain, and the brain processes it. If it only takes 13 milliseconds to process an image, you can imagine the enormous wealth of information that can be transmitted in even a short video. In a world where people prefer video over text, it's the ideal opportunity for employers to embrace video for internal communications to educate and inform employees on complicated or new topics, improve employee engagement, and strengthen the workplace culture. Best of all, video can creatively achieve these goals, so you can better keep your employees' attention when you most want them to pay attention to the message, like explaining the real impact of union organizing or a change initiative. 

Video Techniques To Educate and Inform Employees On A Complicated Topic 

A six-minute video will have approximately 1,000 words. In a matter of minutes, detailed information can be shared – information requiring a long email that many employees would quit reading halfway through. You can apply many principles in business video marketing to video for internal communications. For example, Hubspot surveyed 550 marketers concerning video trends and found that 36 percent of marketers use video marketing to increase authentic brand awareness and reach new audiences. You can also use video to increase employee awareness of the company's mission and values and engage employees you have had difficulty engaging with emails or other forms of text communication.

Yet, videos are useful for much more than talking about the company culture or introducing a new benefits option. They are also helpful in educating and informing employees on complicated topics, like why a company believes a union is unnecessary. You can send a long email or newsletter or list the reasons on an employee-facing website, but a video presentation is more attention-getting. 

Video communication can do much more than inform. Chris Craddock, Production Operations Manager at IRI Consultants, explains, "Digital media, such as video and websites, can be a medium to deliver critical messages to employees starting with recruitment and orientation, and continuing through their careers. By tailoring specific programs - such as eLearning - for individual clients, these tools have been used to train and educate leadership and improve employee productivity, motivation, and engagement." Quality videos can help your organization support your company's vision and strategy, build trust between leaders and employees and reinforce values while communicating information. Videos can also create a sense of belonging, which is crucial to employee engagement because they have a human quality that emails and other written material can't compete with. 

What if you have a complicated topic to discuss, like the impact of labor unions on companies or the best practices in labor relations for supervisors? What if you need to train employees on new technologies to upgrade their skills? You can incorporate numerous tactics into a video strategy to simplify training on a complicated topic.

  • Keep the length in mind - Make your videos only as long as they need to be. It's better to do a series of videos than to make one long one. You want employees to capture and keep the viewer's attention until the end.
  • Use short videos for things like congratulating an employee or team for success, welcoming a new employee, or covering one aspect of the topic. Short videos work better than long ones on mobile technologies. There is also the option of stringing together connected short videos that employees or leaders can watch one at a time as time permits. Delivering short pieces of information videos embedded in an eLearning program will capture and keep the viewer's attention.
  • Everything can't be delivered in short videos, like complicated topics. In that case, use longer videos to share detailed information, like the company or departmental goals or employee training on new complex operational procedures.
  • Develop explainer videos - Explainer videos describe things like your company's products and services, benefits programs, how union dues are used, TIPS-D and FLOP rules for leaders, what constitutes unfair labor practices in various situations, employee engagement best practices for managers, and so on. The topic depends on the audience. Maintain strategic alignment in your information-sharing initiatives with your employee groups and corporate mission and vision.
  • Illustrate abstract topics – Abstract topics are difficult to present without losing people's attention. One of the ways to overcome this challenge is by using graphics, symbols, physical representations, graphs, charts, metaphors, icons, etc. For example, you want to discuss the concept of unionization as a reality for a non-union company. Labor unions are very good at getting people emotionally involved in union organizing and skim over realities like contract negotiations that could fail to deliver on labor union promises. To illustrate the abstract, start with human stories from real-world experiences, like how long it took a competitor to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. Then use comparisons between union versus non-union companies over time. Your leaders may also need help with abstract concepts. For example, employees have a new perspective on work and employers. Your managers and supervisors need to learn the new workplace realities post-Covid that have changed leadership principles for the management of employees.
  • Use understandable language – Avoid using jargon and ensure the language used in the video is precise. However, you also don't want stiff language, so finding a balance is important to keep people's attention. One of the issues with company meetings is that they get boring when the presenter falls back on antiquated presentation skills. People like being entertained, which is why videos are so successful.
  • Utilize creative tools – Many innovative tools are available that make videos more entertaining. They include whiteboard animation, a company "mascot," captions, music, voiceovers, and so on. It's important to stay current on the new trends in video presentations because your employees are experiencing them in their personal lives.

Interactive video is available today, also. This type of video allows you to add areas that will perform an action when the viewer taps on the area. This enables jumping to other video points or opening panels overlaying the screen. 

Encouraging Employees to Use Technology for Engagement

Internal communication videos are an excellent tool with one obvious caveat: They must be viewed to be useful. You need a strategy that encourages all employees to use company-provided technology to view the video and engage with each other. You want your videos to start conversations, encourage questions, and amplify the employee voice. Asynchronous video messages can replace some of the lengthy email threads and do a better job of promoting collaboration in your workforce. 

Make videos mobile-ready: Cisco research projects that 70 percent of the global population will have access to mobile connectivity by 2023. The study also found that nearly 300 million mobile applications will be downloaded by 2023, and social media, gaming, and business applications will be the most popular. 

Make videos sharable content: You can create a sharable video by creating a video URL or uploading your video to a video-sharing platform. This way, your employees can share videos with coworkers, encouraging them to watch the video and make comments. If you have internal social media, videos are easily shared and support culture building and employee engagement. With good governance and rules, employees can be encouraged to publish their own videos on internal social media. An employee discussing their interesting project or why he likes working with his coworkers is a powerful contributor to preventing unionization.

Build videos into communication campaigns: When you launch a corporate union organizing campaign, attach videos to emails and embed them in corporate intranet web pages and social media posts. This can apply to launching any initiative or campaign, including a training or change initiative or crisis communication. Another tactic is adding a video link or a QR code to the employer's campaign material.

Make the content relatable: One of the advantages of video is that humanness can be added. People can convey empathy, humor, and a particular tone. You can engage and motivate your employees in a way that email and text cannot. 

Use captioning: As an employer, you want to ensure that all employees are engaged, including employees with hearing impairment. Adding captions to videos is an inclusion strategy.

You can include employees in the video content creation process when possible and when it makes sense. This is one way to increase employee voice – allowing employees to contribute to the information shared on the videos. For example, project team members can make monthly update videos shared across the organization. Employees can participate in job training videos and share their excitement at opportunities to work on interesting projects. 

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Using Video on Multiple platforms 

Just because it's a video doesn't mean your employees will watch it or be fully engaged, even if they do. Video for internal communication needs to be on the right platform and channels, and it also needs to deliver an excellent user experience.

You can embed video, which means your employee or leader can watch the video on a company website without leaving the current webpage. The other option is linking a video with an URL. When the link is clicked, the person is redirected to the webpage where the video is hosted. Native video is uploaded directly to a social network or intranet platform, and the video is played on the platform. Native video formats are specific to each platform which means they can ensure a smoother viewing experience. 

As you plan videos for internal communication, remember that there are options today. Many workforces today are remote or hybrid, so you must consider how best to reach all your employees with video. HR must onboard employees remotely, and managers must keep remote employees motivated, interested, and, very importantly, connected and engaged.

Video calls and live video streams are one way to make sure remote workers engage with coworkers. But asynchronous videos can play an important role too. Academic researchers writing in the Harvard Business Review found that the challenges remote employees face include lack of face-to-face supervision, lack of access to information, and social isolation. When discussing solutions, the researchers recommend that employers "Provide several different communication technology options: Email alone is insufficient. 

Following are some ways organizations like yours have utilized multiple platforms for video for internal communications. Most social media platforms today offer businesses the option to establish private social media accounts that only employees can access. 

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Internal Blog or website on an intranet: You can post videos on your internal website or embed them in your internal blog. For example, you may have a preventive union organizing website with a series of videos that explain everything from the company philosophy on unions to the reasons unions are not necessary.

Texting on a private corporate text messaging platform: There are private business texting platforms today, or your organization can develop its own. Texts can contain links to company videos. 

TikTok: TikTok increased video time from 15 seconds to 60 seconds and then to three minutes. In February 2022, TikTok began rolling out a 10-minute video option. Employers are using TikTok to promote the organization's brand and engage employees. IRI Consultants discusses using TikTok for employer branding in its blog TikTok for Business. TikTok lets you choose a public or private account. According to TikTok, "If you have a private account, only people you approve can follow you, view your videos, LIVE videos, bio, likes as well as your following and followers lists. With a private account, other people won't be able to Duet, Stitch, or download your videos."

Employee apps: You can post engaging and informative videos on employee apps. The app enables a social media style newsfeed, so you can share information and provide updates to departments, divisions, teams, or the whole workforce. The internal newsfeed can have links to videos that communicate a company's success, recognize employees, remind employees to take advantage of benefits programs, announce special events, send urgent updates, highlight training resources, encourage employees to complete a survey or poll, and so much more. 

Private YouTube channel: YouTube has an option for organizations that want a private business channel to post business videos and enables designated others to do so. You can determine who can watch the videos and make comments, another form of feedback.

Instagram Reels: Instagram reels follow the privacy settings on Instagram that you set. By sharing to Feed, only your followers can watch the reel. Right now, Instagram allows short videos up to 90 seconds long to be posted. 

Private Facebook group: Only people the Facebook administrator allows to access the private Facebook group can view videos and other posts. Videos are uploaded to Facebook, or you can post a link to the communication channel where business and employee videos are posted. Videos must be less than 240 minutes long.

Slack: Slack is explicitly designed for communication and collaboration between employees. It has a search tool for accessing information and supports videos, images, and PDFs. After video clips are posted, employees can provide feedback. 

Of course, many other internal communication platforms support videos. They include Beekeeper, Unily, SMARP, and Firstup. 

Some things to consider when deciding which communication channels to use include the age of the workforce, the workplace structure (in-house, remote, hybrid), and the type of information you want to convey. For example, some businesses will want to post long videos, which will exclude some of the channels. Morning Consult research found that the most used platform for social media communication is YouTube, followed by Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. The preference for YouTube shows the preference for videos. 

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Customizing Internal Communication with Videos

You can get feedback on your videos by sending a review link to anyone watching them. Feedback or video collaboration serves two purposes. The video can be improved to engage employees better based on employee suggestions. The second reason is that giving employees opportunities for feedback is a way to promote employee voice and prevent union organizing.

Are you ready to utilize multiple channels for video for internal communication? We can help you develop a strategy to determine the best internal communication channels and will work with you to choose the best path for developing creative video content. Contact IRI Consultants to begin transforming your internal communications to improve employee engagement.

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About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is IRI's Director of Digital Solutions and founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.