HR Videos: what you need to make them better

HR Videos: what you need to make them betterLet’s start by being honest with ourselves. There are countless examples of terrible corporate videos. Irrelevant About Us videos, boring product videos, uninteresting testimonials… but the crown jewel of them all are HR videos.

Whether it’s the company culture video or a department training video, there might not be a better way to put people to sleep.

Another moment of honesty? In many cases, it’s nobody’s fault. Well, it might be legal’s fault. I’m fine with blaming them.

But in all seriousness, there are contributing factors that lead to boring HR videos that are beyond your control. Maybe the biggest factor is asking highly trained human resources professionals to do something they don’t have any background in… producing a video.

We can change that. I’m going to help you make better HR videos.

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way!

You’re not in human resources anymore

Let’s start with something that could be cringeworthy for some of you, but once you accept it will make the process much easier.

When you accept the responsibility of helping produce an HR video, you are no longer in HR. You’re now in marketing.

Your job is to deliver information about HR issues, but if you want to deliver it well… in a way that people will pay attention to and dare I say enjoy… you have to take off you HR hat and put on your marketing hat.

I know, it’s not what many of you want to hear, but thinking like a marketer in this case is going to help you make a better video.

Again, your job isn’t just about delivering the information. You want to deliver a message that’s going to be received, understood, but more importantly… you want buy-in.

In short, you need to market your ideas and policies to team members.

“Career change” will benefit your HR Videos

Marketers (at least the good ones!) understand that video isn’t about facts and figures. It’s not about information. Video is about emotion. It’s a medium that allows you to tap people’s emotions.

Now, you might be thinking… I don’t need to connect with my audience on an emotional level, I just need to communicate what our policies and programs are.

You’re right. That is what you need to do.

However, if you want people to take notice of those policies and programs and remember them, then you do need to connect with people emotionally.

As humans, we are widely guided by our emotions. They influence what we buy, and in this case they impact what we buy into.

Is it starting to make sense?

I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats!

Keep in mind, you don’t need to tap big emotions. It’s great if you can create videos that make people laugh or cry… yes, as a video producer I work in one of the rare fields where we relish making people cry! But you don’t need to do that to make an emotional connection.

Your goal should simply be leaving people with a specific feeling.

In the vast majority of corporate videos we produce, we just want the audience to feel good about the company. We want them to feel confident in the company.

You can achieve both of those emotions with your HR videos.

Another good one for HR might be understanding. You want people to understand why the company has a certain policy. You want people to “get it.”

What’s awesome is once you produce a quality video, all that information you’re trying to get to people will sink-in and they’ll retain it. And the more quality videos you produce, the more people will attach those emotions to your information. It snowballs from video to video.

OK, let’s produce an HR video

Now that you’re an honorary member of the marketing department, let’s talk about the videos themselves.

We’ll cover a few types of typical HR videos, but really you can apply the lessons learned later to just about any type of video.

About Us Video

The About Us video is the one video I say every business/organization needs. It’s the video that tells people who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

And good news… you might not even need to produce it! Marketing might have done it for you because it’s a terrific marketing asset.

If they haven’t, start talking with them about producing one.

Look at you working between silos!

Regardless of whether you or marketing produces it, this video has multiple uses for HR. Need a recruiting video? Check! Need an introduction video for new hires? Check!

Company Culture Video

The company culture video is sort of the cousin to the About Us video. It’ll probably have a similar look and feel, but might be a bit more focused on the who you are as opposed to the what you do.

Recruiting? New hires? Again, these audiences are ideal for this type of video.

It provides you with an opportunity to show people what makes your organization special. Whether it’s a certain leadership style or company perks, you can use video to highlight aspects of the business that make it unique.

This is a great opportunity to take people behind of the scenes of what it’s really like to work there.

Company Program Videos

Whether you’re launching a new company program, or highlighting existing ones, you can use video to spread the word.

It goes from being an easily missed (or ignored) email, to something that will grab people’s attention.

Training or instructional videos

Ugg… the dreaded training video. We’ve all seen how awful they can be, but even a training video can draw people in.

I’ll admit, you’ll really have to stretch your creating thinking here. It can be done though.

My favorite examples come from the airlines. They have gotten increasingly creative in the videos they show passengers to teach them in-flight safety procedures.

In many cases, they use big budget productions to facilitate their creativity, but you can be creative on a modest budget as well.

Highlight team members

I LOVE THESE VIDEOS! Do you have an employee of the month, quarter, or year? Don’t just highlight them in the company newsletter, produce a video about them.

But don’t stop there… I highly recommend finding ways to produce stories about your team members on a regular basis. One of our customers features employees who demonstrate the company’s core values.

And while you can certainly do it to highlight professional achievements, don’t shy away from producing stories about who they are away from work.

The more your employees learn about one another on a human level, the better they will function as a team.

By the way… this can be another joint effort between marketing and HR. Employee profiles are useful for both departments.

Before you begin

Now, as you start your video project, let’s really start thinking like marketers.

We’ll start with some pre-production questions.

  • What are you trying to communicate? Simple.
  • How are you going to communicate it? Video… see this is easy!
  • Where are you going to post the videos? Intranet, email, digital newsletter, social media?
  • What’s your goal and how are you going to measure it? You can certainly count the number of views and time spent viewing the video, but be more tactical about it. Try to attach an action to having watched the video. For example, tracking many people signed-up to take part in a new program after having watched the video.

I haven’t scared you off, right? These are simple but important questions to ask before you start producing any video project.

The most important question

There is one thing I didn’t list there and it’s because it requires extra attention. Dare I say it’s the most important question to ask.

Who is your audience?

It seems obvious, especially from an HR perspective, but you’d be surprised how many people glance past the answer to the question or over-simplify it.

When it comes to HR, the answer is usually employees, or team members, or whatever way you like to refer to the people who work at the company/organization.

And in some cases that’s good enough because the video is meant for everyone at the organization. However, depending on the size of your company, you might have specific videos for people with specific roles, or maybe it’s intended for managers only.

It’s very important to get as specific as you can about your target viewers, and I’ll explain why.

It’s not about you

At the end of the day, you need to realize the video you’re producing isn’t for you. It’s not for managers. It’s not for the company, per se.

The video is for your audience. Every decision you make regarding the video, from the content to the look and feel, needs to take into account your audience.

Ask yourself…

  • What to do they really need/want to know?
  • How would they like to receive the information?
  • Are they loose? Buttoned-up?

And brace yourself, the answers to some of those questions might not align with your wants and desires. You might have to set your ego aside… or worse… have to tell someone higher up they need to set their ego aside.

When in doubt, do this

Being a temporary marketer is starting to get a bit more daunting. I get it.

Well… when answering those questions gets difficult, here’s a universal guidepost to follow.

Be authentic.

I don’t care whether it’s an outward facing marketing video or an internal company video… my advice is the same… be authentic… be genuine.

If you’re excited about something, be excited, and don’t be shy about spreading that enthusiasm.

On the flip side, if you’re trying to communicate something you know isn’t going to be popular, don’t be a phony.

Don’t try to sugarcoat it and fool people. Treat your audience with respect and treat them like adults.

The more you do that, the more respect your videos (and policies) will receive. When your audience knows you respect them, they’ll continue to watch video after video.

It all sounds great, but…

I hope all of this sounds good to you. I hope you’re thinking to yourself, yeah, I want all of those videos for our department! And I want them all to be authentic and respectful!

But you might also be thinking… how are we going to pay for it? Or… there’s no way we have a budget for any of it, so how can we DIY it?

Let’s make a deal

Let’s start with the best case scenario and go from there. If you have a budget for video, use it. Hire a professional to produce them for you. Let them guide you through the creative process.

Need help with that? Check out our Milwaukee Video Production Buyers Guide. It has great tips that apply to any city you live in.

Stick with me

I’ll give you one quick suggestion from the guide. Share you budget with the production company.

I know, everybody wants the best deal possible. It seems counter-intuitive to share your budget.

The problem with video production is you’re not dealing with an apples to apples comparison when shopping for a video company. They’ll each provide you with a video at the end, but you’re not buying a widget. It’s more like buying a piece of art.

Each video company has a different style, different capabilities, different thoughts on video production cost.

So instead of looking for a deal, look for value.

Contact a few companies that interest you, share your budget with each of them, and see what they can do for you at that budget.

DIY HR Videos

Now, the other less desirable option. You can DIY these videos.

It’s not the best option because you’re an HR professional, not a video production expert.

So… the first thing you need to do is manage expectations and cut yourself some slack. Nobody should expect your video to be perfect. Heck, your organization should simply be happy you’re making the effort.

The next thing you need are some basic DIY skills. Again, we can help with that. We like helping. Check out our DIY video guide.

That’s a wrap

I hope this helped you on your journey to better HR videos. You can do it! Internal company videos don’t have to be lame. They don’t have to be boring.

If you think like a marketer and treat your audience with respect, you’re well on your way.

—Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau - T60 ProductionsTony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 15 Telly Awards for its work.

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