January 2017

Seeing Is Believing

Make Video Front and Center

As highly visual creatures, we respond readily to video. Last March, Facebook and Snapchat each had 8 billion video views per day1 and YouTube videos had been watched an estimated 39 trillion times, clocking in at approximately 196 trillion minutes, or nearly 400 million years.2 With easy access to the web now the norm, the moving image has become the preferred content channel for entertainment and information.

So, why do most HR and benefits websites still rely primarily on text — a format which may not engage all of your employees fully? To help your employees know, feel and do the things you want them to, consider video as a vital employee benefits communications channel.



Boost Your Message with Video

There was a time when most organizations communicated with their employees about benefits once a year, at annual enrollment. Over time, many organizations have shifted that approach to ongoing, year-round communications that create a dialog between employees and employers. This is often accomplished with quarterly newsletters, emails and text-heavy website updates.

A more engaging and effective approach would be to include the use of video to further help employees understand, appreciate and realize the greatest value from their benefits.

The use of video to communicate employee benefits and other HR-related issues is powerful. Here are just a few of the many ways organizations can use video to capture employees’ attention and change their behavior:

  • Put a human face (and voice) on the benefits your organization provides,
  • Convey benefits changes leading up to annual enrollment,
  • Provide a high-level overview of health, welfare and retirement plan offerings for new hires,
  • Explain how a savings or pension plan works,
  • Address the myths and facts about a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account (HSA),
  • Show how a wellness incentive program works,
  • Illustrate an organization’s career-development process,
  • Explain the importance of sleep as part of wellness and weight management,
  • Convey concepts that otherwise would be difficult to communicate (e.g., you cannot take a photograph of someone meeting a deductible or reaching an out-of-pocket limit, but you can illustrate it with video animation),
  • Discuss how to choose a medical plan, and
  • Describe how online tools can help you become a better health care consumer.

Of course, given the many legal requirements to give employees written information about their benefits, video cannot be the only communications tool — but it can make written plan documents, summary plan descriptions (SPDs) and required notices more accessible by emphasizing key messages and encouraging employees to review the written information. Videos about benefits should remind employees to rely on the organization’s written communications.

The Benefits of Video

Here is what video can do for your employees:

  • Deliver Consistent Messaging  Video ensures consistent message presentation that is difficult to replicate via in-person delivery on multiple occasions (e.g., by a member of senior leadership to several audiences at different times, or by different managers each delivering messages and information to their teams). With video — whether it’s a recording of a senior leader talking to the camera, whiteboard animation, live-action vignettes or another story-telling approach — messages and information are presented in a controlled and replicable fashion.
  • Effectively Convey Tone  Video is far better than written communications at delivering subtleties. With live-action video, you can create an emotional connection using eye contact with the camera, body language, voice inflection, facial expression, music, graphics and lighting to change thinking and influence behavior. With whiteboard and other animation techniques, you can use the expressive and flexible creativity of animation and the influential power of dramatic voice-over narration in the same way.
  • Reach Audiences Anywhere, on Any Device  Video allows organizations with geographically dispersed populations to reach all employees easily, with zero distribution cost, whether they watch on a computer at work, mobile device on the road or computer at home. Once posted online, video can be viewed immediately, from anywhere, at any time.
  • Speak the Language  Moving images, done effectively, transcend language and can make otherwise-difficult concepts easy for non-English-speakers to understand.If your employees speak various languages, video can include translated subtitles or voiceovers in multiple languages.
  • Show, Not Tell  Most times, showing how to do something is better than explaining it in words. For example, video can be a great way to illustrate the steps employees must take to fulfill activity requirements for wellness program incentives.
  • Be Quick  Video can deliver short bits of messages and information, such as brief news clips and key activity updates, in seconds. A call to action (e.g., “Visit this website” and/or “Call this number”) at the end of each video can direct viewers to the details. For complex messages and information, produce shorter video segments to create an ongoing series.
  • Be Entertaining  Video can be enjoyable as well as informative and persuasive. Using humor helps make messages memorable and may even encourage your employees to share videos with one another.



Getting Started

Thanks to YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and other services and apps, and with the ubiquity of video-capable smartphones, video production is now democratized and demystified. It no longer requires a crew, studio, director, editing suite, physical media distribution and high degree of technical expertise, as in the old days of videotape – and the even older days of film.

In certain circumstances, all it takes are three simple steps: point, record, post. While this basic approach works for some types of employee productions (e.g., an informal talk-into-the-camera status update from management or a peer testimonial about wellness program success), we do not recommend it in all situations.

For messaging about dramatic benefits or organizational change (good or not so much) from senior leadership, for example, recording in a controlled studio environment may be more appropriate. Situations such as these also require professional scriptwriting and editing with creation and digital mixing of on-screen graphics, plus intro and outro music.

Recording a live-action, scripted vignette calls for a professionally written teleplay, the selection of the right talent, on-location setting and a video crew that includes a camera person, lighting expert, sound expert and director to ensure a high-quality production that meets your audiences’ expectations — even if those expectations only rise to the modest level of “reality” TV.

Creating an animated video (e.g., cartoon, whiteboard or stop-motion clay animation or paper cutouts) requires a specialized understanding of employee benefits communications. That understanding translates to writing a script that describes effective visuals that will appear on screen and voice-over narration that uses simple, jargon-free language to clearly explain the concepts being illustrated.

When your video is ready to go, get it out on lots of channels including via email, Twitter, Facebook and text message. Post it to your website and introduce it at employee meetings and town halls. Give all your audiences (e.g., Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers) access to your video in a way that suits them best.



How Sibson Can Help

Sibson has worked with clients for more than 40 years to help determine and develop the right mix of media in pursuit of our clients’ benefits communications objectives. When video is in the mix, we assist our clients with every aspect of the creative process, from conceptualization to script development (the best video starts with a strong script) to production to post-production to distribution.

With each project, we bring to bear our ability to explain complex and relatively unfamiliar benefits concepts clearly and concisely, benefits subject matter expertise, project-management expertise and knowledge of a wide variety of video production techniques and styles. We source on-camera and voice-over talent through our trusted production partners, supervise and direct cast and crew, work collaboratively with animation artists and live-action directors, oversee the editing and post-production process, and bring the project to a successful conclusion on time and on budget.

If used in the right way with expert, professional creative assistance, video can be a powerful, effective and engaging visual medium to tell the benefits story you want your employees to hear. Sibson has developed dozens of video productions for our clients and we would be glad to share our creations and experience with you.

1Snapchat Video Traffic Has Caught Up With Facebook,” Fortune, March 1, 2016

2YouTube’s 2 Billion Videos, 197M Hours Make it an ‘Immense’ Force, Says Bernstein,” Tech Trader Daily, March 11, 2016


Questions? Contact Us.

For more information about how to use video to make your communications come alive, contact the author Andrew Kaplan, who is a Vice President and Senior Consultant with Sibson Consulting’s Communications Practice. He has more than 20 years of experience in the development and management of employee-focused communication’s strategy, tactics and message development.

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Sibson Consulting is a member of The Segal Group.





Copyright © 2017 by The Segal Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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