Video at Work: A Special Report for the Latergy Social Video Channel

Editor’s Note: Years ago, as a PR Newswire executive, I had an opportunity to meet with Norman Pearlstine, when he was Editor in Chief for Time, Inc. My friend and mentor, the late (great) John Williams, presented a ‘multi-million dollar idea’. Norman said ‘Every day multi-million dollar ideas cross my desk and most end up in the trash can because most people don’t know how to execute’. That statement has guided my career. Edward Ferris and Charlesmore Partners work with CEOs and their top management teams to develop the organizational strategy and initiatives that convert strategic intent into organizational capability, commitment and performance so those ideas come to fruition. I asked him to share his thoughts on video in the workplace. Please enjoy his post. – Larry Thomas
What’s it like to work at REI, the outdoor gear company and #8 in Fortune’s 2012 list of best companies to work for? Watch the video on CNNMoney.
 Want a job as a systems engineer at a software company? Watch the video (and take a look at your prospective boss, hear him describe the team and talk about what is important for success). 
What’s a day in the life of a Cisco employee like? Watch the video. It’s apparently pretty exotic and doubles as an almost endless product promotion platform.
Tired of trying to get an employee newsletter off the ground?  Try using video. Philips News Networks educates employees on its business and company news, and uses employee “Roving Reporters” to capture and generate news stories.
Video is now ubiquitous in society, with – according to MIT’s Technology Review – smartphones outpacing any other technology in history in terms of mainstream adoption. While teenagers might one day regret those videos they post on Facebook, the ease and immediacy of use and the medium’s ability to garner attention and draw viewers in is nothing short of phenomenal.
Can companies make more use of video technologies in their organizations? Certainly. Can they piggyback on its popular appeal to engage employees more viscerally into the business? We think so.
Here’s the rub. Somewhere between 70%-80% of enterprise value in most companies now considered to be intangible – knowledge, methods, capabilities, relationships, brand. All people derived. Yet, studies abound regarding the lack of engagement that employees feel for their jobs and their companies. Clearly there are many factors that compound to create an under-engaged workforce, but companies that create workplace excitement tend to attract a better crowd and inspire them to over-perform.
Video can be one way to create a sense of excitement and engagement in a workforce, particularly if employees are involved in the design and generation. Showcase model employees. Highlight case studies of business and customer success. Bring customers to life for employees. Use video to explain and reinforce company values. Do walking tours of different company facilities. Humanize top executives by showing them less formal and relaxed modes. Give employees from different functions and locations their voice. Use videos to celebrate milestones or special events – employment anniversaries, birthdays, engagements. You can always organize a “spontaneous” flash mob to build camaraderie and get employee adrenalin pumping. Watch the video. Sure beats abseiling down a fake mountainside.
Knowledge-sharing, technique demonstrations, policy or benefit program explanations, even job descriptions can all scale and be more recipient-receptive through the use of video. The options are somewhat limitless once you let your imagination and creativity run and decide to incorporate the visual into your employee communication and engagement toolkit. Mix it up between more formal, stylized productions and user-generated and less scripted media. It can help change the tone of your employee relations.

About the Author: Edward Ferris is Managing Partner of Charlesmore Partners International, a consulting firm specializing in organizational strategy and employee engagement.