July 25, 2018
Video has never been more accessible. YouTube alone has more than a billion users who watch more than a billion hours a day.* With web access now available to most people, video has become a major channel for information and entertainment.
So, why do most federal, state and local governments’ employee websites still rely mainly on text? The written word may not fully engage all employees, especially the younger generations that make up a growing percentage of the workforce. To help all employees fully understand and do the things their employers want them to, consider adding video as a benefits communications channel.
It used to be that most state and local governments focused on benefits communications only once a year, at annual enrollment. Over time, many shifted to ongoing, year-round communications that encourage dialog with their employees (e.g., quarterly newsletters, emails, website updates). Adding video to the mix creates a more engaging approach that can help all employees better understand and appreciate their benefits and realize the greatest value from them.
Public sector employers and plan sponsors can use video to educate employees and their families on a variety of topics. This leads to better-informed employees and can promote desired behavior. Here are just a few of the many ways public plans and employers can use video to capture employees’ attention and change their behavior:
Of course, given the many legal requirements to provide employees written information about their benefits, video cannot be the only communications tool. However, it can deliver overviews that encourage employees to access written plan documents and help them better understand required notices and other disclosures. Videos about benefits should always remind employees to rely on the written communications.
Here is what video can do for employees:
Whiteboard animation uses time-lapse drawings to illustrate a story told by a narrator. Segal created the video depicted below for the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS), to help introduce its new Member Self-Service Portal. It features whiteboard animation preceded by a live-action introductory segment.
The new PSERS Member Self-Service Portal allows members to …
… estimate their retirement benefit, calculate their monthly federal tax withholding from their pension payment …
… change their tax withholding election …
… access all their documents … and more.
Source: Segal Consulting, 2018
Segal Consulting’s Communications Practice developed a multi-year series of five-minute “evergreen” video segments collectively titled “Benefits 101” for a client.
The videos, produced using whiteboard animation, cover a wide variety of benefits-related topics, including:
Videos are shown during new-employee orientation, but new and current employees can view them by accessing the online library at any time from their smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC.
The availability of new and existing videos is publicized via email, website postings and in print. The result: benefits communications that take less time and effort to access and digest — producing a more engaged employee population.
Source: Segal Consulting, 2018
Video production is easier than ever. It no longer requires a crew, studio, director, editing suite, physical media distribution and technical expertise, as in the old days of videotape and film. This is largely thanks to YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and other services and apps, as well as the ubiquity of video-capable smartphones.
In certain circumstances, all it takes is point, record and post. This basic approach works for some types of productions (e.g., an informal talk-into-the-camera status update from management or a peer testimonial about wellness program success). However, Segal does not recommend it in all situations.
In some cases, it may be more appropriate to record in a studio. Examples include important messages from senior leaders about dramatic benefits or organizational changes. Situations such as these may also benefit from professional scriptwriting and editing and on-screen graphics.
A live-action, scripted vignette will need a professionally written teleplay. It is also important to select the right talent and location. A video crew that includes a cameraperson, lighting expert, sound expert and director will ensure a high-quality production.
Creating an animated video requires a specialized understanding of employee benefits communications. It needs a storyboard that describes effective visuals that will appear on screen. It also needs a narrator’s script that uses simple, jargon-free language to explain the concepts that are illustrated.
When the video is ready, the employer should distribute it via multiple channels including email, Twitter, Facebook and text message. Post it to the employee website and introduce it at employee meetings and town halls. Give all audiences (e.g., Millennials, Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers) access to the video in a way that suits them best.
Used the right way, with expert professional creative assistance, video can be a powerful, effective and engaging visual medium. It can help public plans and employers tell the benefits stories they want all their employees to hear.
Segal 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 combine our ability to explain complex and relatively unfamiliar benefits concepts clearly and concisely with deep benefits subject matter expertise, project-management know-how and experience with 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.
Under various state and federal laws, websites and videos must meet accessibility standards that assure that individuals with a disability may obtain full access to their benefits. Generally, a transcript must be made available with the video. Segal’s Compliance Practice can help with website accessibility standards to assure that videos and other web content meets the needs of the plan’s participants who have a disability.
Segal has developed dozens of video productions for our clients and we would be glad to share our creations and experience with you.
As you develop your employee communications strategy, be sure to match the medium to the message. Video can and should be a key component of your overall approach, but it is not right for every communications task. For example, video falls short of legal requirements when it comes to required program and benefit descriptions and other required disclosure documents. Segal’s communications professionals work with our compliance professionals to draft, design and deliver user-friendly and effective required program and benefit descriptions and other required communications. We would be glad to work with you on the development of these, too.
For more information about how to use video to make your communications come alive, contact the author, Andrew Kaplan. Andrew is a Vice President and Senior Consultant with Segal Consulting’s Communications Practice. He has more than 20 years of experience in the development and management of employee-focused communications strategy, tactics and message development.
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Communication is more than the art and technique of effectively conveying thoughts, information and ideas. It is now the single most important element in helping public plans and employers share their vision and energize their employees.
Why? Because clear, concise and consistent communications not only educate employees, enabling them to appreciate the value of their organizations' programs, they also keep employees focused, informed, motivated, productive and committed.
At Segal, our national communications professionals partner with our clients to create strategic, targeted and effective communications programs to help clients achieve their goals. We offer strategic and tactical advice, education, marketing, training and research on virtually every benefits, human resources and organizational communications topic, including:
Learn more about Segal’s award-winning employee communications services.
Copyright © 2018 by The Segal Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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