employee communicationsEmployee communications are dominated by email

According to a recent survey, up to 28% of our time is spent creating, reading, and replying to emails at work. In the average workweek that’s about 11 hours of time that you won’t get back, and we do that every single week.

There’s something else I’d like you to consider trying this week: video.

I am a firm believer in the power of video for learning and for communication purposes.

  • It’s personal.
  • It’s easy to create.
  • It conveys emotion and meaning.
  • It helps to explore complex topics.
  • And so much more!

While I know we can’t completely get away from sending emails to our employees, I think we could do a better job of incorporating video into the overall communications we use to increase opens, clicks, and overall understanding. And no, you don’t have to be a 10,000-employee organization with a dedicated video team on staff. This is incredibly simple.

And if you happen to be one of those people who think video isn’t going to “catch on,” you should take a second and recall those individuals that printed emails because they knew that that whole “email thing” was just a fad.

So, why use video for employee communications?

In the comment above, you can easily swap out “marketers” and put your own name in there. People are used to seeing and interacting with video content online. Some studies show that up to 75% of executives watch business-related videos online each week. This isn’t just for your front line employees–it can be a valuable tool for your C-suite as well.

I shared a case study of how ADP used video for their open enrollment communications (not only to share information, but to actually drive specific behaviors). Check out How to Increase Benefits at No Cost for more info.

Try it for just 30 seconds

One of my friends used to walk around with a small handheld camera (and now we all have phones that can do this just as well). He would grab a manager and ask them to talk for 30 seconds about how they help to manage career development for their employees, and then he would post those on the internal network so that employees could see and learn from those little clips. What was the impact?

  • The managers weren’t out more than one or two minutes of time.
  • He could get them talking on things they might not normally bring up with employees.
  • And he (HR) was seen as bringing value to the employee/employer relationship through facilitating these discussions.

Explainer videos

As far as the type of video that we’d use, the “explainer” type is probably most common. Here’s a simple way to start: think about the top three questions you receive from employees that you have a hard time responding to via email due to the complexity or sensitivity. Here are a few examples:

  • How does our FSA work?
  • What will our tuition reimbursement plan cover?
  • What are the career development options available for my position?

Then, take 30-60 seconds to create a short video explaining how that works in plain language your employees can understand.

Seriously, it’s as simple as that!

If you’d like some more research and ideas on video and how it can be used, check out the infographic below. Continue reading

Training needs to mirror real life.

Think about it. If I’m training you on how to change a bicycle tire and then I set you in front of a bus, that training wasn’t very useful. It didn’t mirror real life. It wasn’t realistic.

If I train you on how to change a bus tire indoors on a smooth surface with all of the proper tools at hand, you’ll be more likely to be successful if you have to put that skill into practice.

However, if I ultimately train you to change that tire complete with all of the environmental factors (outdoors, possibly on a road shoulder surface, angry customers staring down at your back, etc.) in the mix, there’s a greater chance of success overall.

As you might imagine, this applies in the workplace as well. In the short video below I talk about simulating real life in both training and recruiting/selection. Subscribers click through to view.

In the past I have shared free eBooks on employee development and training. You might be interested in checking those out.

If you’d like to read the rest of the article and learn three questions to ask yourself about your training as well as a shocking statistic behind aircraft pilot training, you can do so at the Brandon Hall Group blog.

I am testing out something new this week and have been publishing short, 1-2 minute videos on YouTube daily as a way to get some quick thoughts out there on a variety of topics. I’m rounding up this week’s content here. Let me know what you think about the topics, format, etc.

\Subscribers will need to click through to view the videos below)

HR: it’s not about finding a seat at the table, it’s about finding the food truck

Today we’re looking at how HR isn’t necessarily about finding a “seat at the table,” but it’s more like “finding the food truck.” It’s often a moving target and to be strategically relevant we need to put some effort into the process to make it work.
Credit to Chris Powell, CEO of BlackbookHR for the great quote!

Innovation, HR Conferences, and HRevolution

Talking about how to drive innovation and innovative thinking when the traditional training and conference events are created to help us continue doing things as they have always been done. In addition, events like HRevolution (http://thehrevolution.org) DO create those types of thinking.

Making the workplace better: micro and macro views

How can we make the workplace better? Some people look at a massive innovation across the board, while others seek out how to make one-on-one relationships better and build out from there. Good discussion.

Have something you’d like to see me discuss? Let me know!

Today we’re talking about the importance of differentiating your HR practices to increase your value and the satisfaction of your customers, both internal and external. Check out the video (subscribers click through to view):

The bottom line? You should explore the possibility of differentiating your offerings where you can. I’ve long said that as technology and globalization make the world smaller, the gap between competing companies shrinks. The best way, therefore, to stand out from the crowd is through excellence in HR service delivery. World class HR helps organizations deliver world class service.

Differentiate your HR practices from other organizations. Customize your offerings to the degree you can.

But beware the trap of trying to be all things to all people. below you’ll see some excellent advice on how to know when to accept or reject an opportunity to customize your HR service delivery.

The argument for and against customization

Here’s a snippet from my friend Kris Dunn on how customization can be used to improve your HR service delivery based on lessons learned in a software development environment.

The bottom line is that customization causes complexity. The same logic holds true for your HR shop.  If you’re good, you’ve got a set way of doing things, and if you do it the same way often enough, it’s going to work pretty well.  But you’ll have requests from your client group often to do it different ways.  It’s hard to say no, but you should say no when you can.  Complexity eats away at your ability to deliver in an efficient way.

You know when customization for your HR client group really makes sense?  The same time that it makes sense for a software company.  When the work that you’ll do to customize creates features that can be rolled out to more than one person/client.

Say yes to custom work that results in your HR practice being deeper and capable of delivering more.  Make sure you approach it like a product manager, to make it replicable.

Run away from other custom work if you can.  But the take above means that if you run away every time custom work is requested, you’re probably transactional – not strategic. Source: The HR Capitalist

I’d love to hear from some of you about what you do to differentiate/customize your HR practices to increase the value you’re offering to your candidates, employees, managers, and customers. 

Recently I was talking with someone about employee retention techniques and how to get people to stay at your organization. At first I gave a rote answer based on my gut, but after thinking on the topic for a while I realized there were some pretty significant pieces to the puzzle. I would hazard to guess that the multitude of options explains why there isn’t a magic bullet for fixing retention problems overnight.

In the video below I talk through some of the key employee retention techniques and give a reminder that not all turnover is bad. In fact, we measure two separate items there: turnover (any staff leaving over time for any reason) and retention (voluntary turnover). Check it out:

Employee retention techniques video

Employee retention video notes

Here’s the short list of important items:

  • Respect-for the people and their work
  • Fit-culture fit, baby!
  • Basics-pay/benefits are a basic must
  • Challenge-offer a challenging, growth-oriented environment
  • Professional development, or mentoring for higher level-give people something more than a job
  • Connect with mission-have a mission worth buying into
  • When in doubt, ASK  your people what they want from you
  • Not all turnover is bad!
  • Retention vs. Turnover

Also, please don’t forget that I put together a free guide to employee retention that you can download, print, or share. Lots of great content in there from some excellent professionals in the industry.

What are your employee retention techniques? What has worked for you in the past?

I have been studying the performance of several teams both within and outside our organization, and over time I have seen one key predictor of success or failure for team performance: community. When community is lacking, or in more common terms, when the team members don’t have care and concern for each other, failure will soon result.

Yes, having the right skills is important, but we’ve probably all worked on highly skilled, yet highly dysfunctional, teams in the past.

Video: Building Team Community

Check out the video below for how community ties into teamwork and 5 ways to develop a stronger sense of community for a team:

Email subscribers click here to view

Video Notes

5 tips to build community

  1. Get away from the office.
  2. Take time in meetings to talk about personal things, even if for a few minutes.
  3. Have inside jokes. If they don’t exist, create them.
  4. Create recurring opportunities for people to air grievances and get on the same page. And DO NOT let this become a “checklist” item. It must be meaningful or it’s not worth the effort.
  5. Individual success is team success. Individual failure is team failure. If it ever gets to “well, at least it wasn’t MY project that tanked,” then you’re in trouble. Because when your focus area is in need, the rest of the team will be able to reply, “well, at least it isn’t MY job…”

Teams don’t become great by accident or just by being lucky. Consider which of the methods you could use to inject some community into your team, then make it happen.

For more info and team-related goodness, check out The Orange Revolution book review.

I’ve long believed that recruiting and talent management is one of the fastest and most direct ways to prove and enhance the value proposition for HR. The tweet below was brought to my attention during a session at the SHRM conference, and I can completely understand the truth behind it.

What I can’t understand is the lack of desire for HR pros to change it. The reality is we are not doing all we can in this area, and it really boils down to two pretty simple concepts that I outline in the video below. Check it out and let me know in the comments if you’re doing this well (or not) and how you plan to adjust fire to ensure you are taking full advantage of the available opportunities.

(subscribers click here to view the video 1:43)

So, what do you think? Are you getting the right talent, or enough of it? Are you helping to deliver enough leadership talent, either through hiring externally or growth and professional development opportunities internally?