The power of video to boost employee engagement

by Mike Sharkey

Video engagement

Discover the secrets of making a great employee engagement video - and find out how to measure video engagement to check your messages are landing.

Communicating with a hybrid workforce to enable employee enagagement and effective collaboration is one of the biggest challenges facing leaders today. Video can help you meet that challenge head-on. But what are the secrets of effective video engagement and how you can take full advantage of its power to influence, support and inspire? Let's start at the beginning.

What is video engagement?

During the last year, while the big screen was off-limits, the small screen consolidated its presence in the lives of employees around the world. Over 75% of remote workers said they were more productive in the comfort of their own homes and, by 2025, estimates suggest that 70% of the entire workforce will be enjoying the same opportunity at least five days a month.

To a large extent, it’s video that makes this possible. It has the potential to engage employees, supporting, inspiring and bringing together those who may rarely, if ever, share a physical office space.

Employee engagement video

Video engagement is a powerful tool to connect employees

The brain processes visuals far more quickly than text – some sources suggest 60,000 times faster. Certainly, MIT neuroscientists have found that it needs just 13 milliseconds to identify an image. This makes video a medium with (almost) immediate impact.

Video also has the power to engage beyond the written and spoken word because it offers something that they don’t: a line of sight on the body language, which plays a silent but vital role in every conversation. According to a landmark study on rapport by Albert Mehrabian, what you say is responsible for just 7% of the impression you make, emphasizing the clear limitations of voice-only interactions.

Video is particularly engaging because it gives you access to the facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact and posture that add vital meaning and intention to the words you’re speaking – as well as filling in the gaps between words.

Research carried out on behalf of Cisco Systems by the business psychologists Pearn Kandola highlighted the importance of these non-verbal cues. In a report, they noted that behavior and body language “significantly increase trust between team members” and “enable trust to be built more quickly”. They also suggested that face-to-face communications strengthen the bonds between employees and help create “a sense of shared identity”.1

Through video engagement, you have the necessary building blocks to create strong working relationships and empower your people to work just as effectively as they’ve ever done – if not more so.

The practical role of video in employee engagement

From one-to-one briefings to global events, video allows people to gather. It creates opportunities for innovation, sharing ideas, devising strategies and the planning required to implement them without the need for anyone to leave their homes or primary workplaces.

Front line and deskless workers – the public-facing, on-the-road or factory-based representatives of your organization who can so often feel left behind – become instantly part of things just by jumping on a video call via their smartphone or laptop.

Business communication - the non-stop flow of company information, news, ideas and opinion that underpins every successful organization - becomes more inclusive and democratic. From a CEO’s keynote to celebrating a team member’s birthday, video is helping draw organizations closer together, wherever people are working.

And with only time zones to consider, there’s more consistency in across communications and online tools. Think of the break-out rooms, group chats or screen-sharing tools that make personal connections and team collaboration quick and easy.

Employee looks at a video screen on a call

Video plays a practical role in employee engagement

Indeed, it’s precisely what video can save us that makes it so engaging. Companies are cutting travel costs by up to 30%2 through the use of video conferencing software, which has reduced the need for business travel by 47%.3

And remote working employees are benefitting too. Without a journey into the office, they can save hundreds of dollars in commuting costs. And they can appreciate the flexibility that stems from a business environment focusing not on the hours worked but on the work getting done.

It shows that it’s not just the money you save that matters. Thanks to the power of video, you can also reserve one of the most precious of all commodities: time.

Taking travel and commuting times into consideration, Global Workplace Analysts suggests that full-time remote working saves the equivalent of two to three weeks a year.4 And then there's the time not being spent setting up and getting to meetings when all that's needed is a weblink.

How to use video to engage employees

So how can you get more out of video? Here are six ways video can boost employee engagement in your organization.

  1. Video conferencing

    A key player in the video engagement mix, video conferencing has made cross-functional, interdepartmental and pan-global conversations easy and effective. The Cisco research reveals that video communication encourages greater engagement in group discussions - people express their opinions more openly and resolve disagreements more quickly.

    Because it can host employees from many different backgrounds and disciplines, video also supports diversity and inclusion. This brings together a diverse range of perspectives, experiences, knowledge and expertise through which new ideas, creative problem-solving and innovation can flourish. In short, this is video engagement at its most transformative.

  2. Recruitment and onboarding

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, 86% of companies were interviewing prospective employees via video. But you can do even more.

    Video can really sell your company culture and values. Including clips of your key employees explaining what it feels like to work for you adds the human touch to your organization. And if you're recruiting from overseas, engaging potential recruits with videos about the local area or with tips to help them settle in to a new country makes your business an attractive proposition for the talent you need.

    And once they join, a series of new employee engagement videos could deliver a personal welcome from the CEO, help the newbie get to grips with the company’s culture, and even show them where to go for lunch or find IT support.

  3. Products and services

    With a deep understanding of what your company offers to clients and customers, employees can appreciate the value of what they’re a part of and feel a sense of pride in the work they do. Employee engagement videos have an essential role to play in building and growing this understanding.

    Whether using animation, soundbites from key employees or footage from behind the scenes, video creates an immersive brand experience. It’s an effective way to launch a new product or service internally and make sure that development, sales, PR and marketing teams are all on the same page.

  4. Company news, views and updates

    If you want a more compelling vehicle for annual reports and updates than a dry PowerPoint presentation, an employee engagement video is a great solution. Turn stats into shareable graphics, with commentary and insights, and you gain a powerful tool that can inform and inspire your teams. As the Adobe Marketo Blog observes, “Employees who know the financial health and goals of a company may feel they play a bigger part in its overall effort.”

    Video is also great for acknowledging hard work, giving individuals or teams who might go unnoticed the chance to shine. In celebrating the achievements of off-site workers, championing people who’ve put in effort after hours or updating everyone on the progress of a key initiative, video engagement can also reinforce the value that an organization places on its people.

    And an employee who feels valued is less likely to leave. According to Forbes, this could save companies up to $4,129 on new hire costs and 42 days lost or compromised productivity.

  5. Communication from the C-suite

    The active presence of company leaders is a powerful motivator. Video establishes a direct link between them and their entire workforce. The employee engagement factor from this kind of personalized leadership communication can be invaluable. It puts faces to names and gives business leaders an authentic, human way to tell the story of their decisions and strategies or the values of the business.

business leader connects with an employee using video

Business leaders can use video engagement to connect with employees

How do you measure video engagement?

There’s no point in wasting time and money on video content that doesn’t land. So how do you measure the success? There are lots of methods that will enable you to fine-tune what you’re offering and make sure it achieves the level of employee engagement you’re looking for.

  • Reach – how many people saw the video?
  • Average watch time – did people get to the end or leave part way through?
  • Audience - who watched it?
  • Engagement – did you get feedback, comments or likes? How often was it shared or forwarded?

But there are pitfalls, too. According to James Lavers, a video coach who has worked with some of the UK's leading broadcasters, companies often repeat the same mistakes when it comes to employee engagement videos.

Firstly, they fall into the trap of wanting their employees to ‘understand’ something – and set this as a target. But how do you measure something as intangible as understanding? And the same can apply to employee engagement.

“You need to look for (usually) one key, positive, verifiable, tangible indicator that what you’re saying has hit the mark,” says James. Ask: What does engagement look like? If people are engaged, what will they do? How will you know?

Rather than using video as a medium just to broadcast information, think about it as an opportunity to change or influence the behavior of those watching. The only way to do that is by engaging them with your content...

How to increase video engagement

While a degree of technical expertise and common sense can enhance your video presentations – for example, by adding captions and graphics or a neutral background – it's the speaker who has the greatest impact.

James offers five golden rules for improving video engagement, whether you’re delivering a talk, a training video or a company update.

  1. “You can’t move your people if you yourself can’t be moved. This is the foundation of influence.”

    For example, if you want to evoke a passion for the organization in your audience, you need to show up with that passion yourself. No amount of polished presentation is going to make up for its absence.

  2. If you’re not being genuine, people will see through you in a heartbeat.”

    Presentation skills and media training may help refine your delivery, but they’re always secondary to authenticity, transparency and integrity.

  3. "Know how to make eye contact – remotely.”

    Learn how to look down the lens so that your viewers can fully engage with you.

  4. Vary your voice.”

    When it comes to making an important point, slow down and take a beat before you deliver that message. Don’t be frightened of the pause: it’s powerful. This will signal your leadership far more effectively than a sharp suit or an impressive corporate background.

  5. “Use your hands for emphasis.”

    Mark Bowden, author, TED speaker and co-founder of TRUTHPLANE, has worked with G7 leaders and politicians. As part of his training, he talks about how the position of your hands in relation to your body can add subconscious emphasis to your words.

    Gestures and hand movements around your waist area communicate to your viewer that they can trust you. Movements around the torso inspire passion, and gestures around head height and above bring an inspirational quality to your delivery.

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