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Q: We’re looking for a 30 min video to show change in work practices to workers and their families. Talking heads for 30 mins shoot in Devon

HR Manager
Food Processing Plant

A: The last time we produced a change-in-work-practices video that needed to involve the families was, to be frank, because quite a lot of them were going to get the chop. So I suspect you’re not talking about a video that’s all good news.

There will be a lot of anger in the air, and also a feeling of hopelessness by those who’ll be losing their jobs. This will contrast with the relief of those who keep their jobs, but are required to learn a lot of new practices, maybe go on more training for multi-skilling, or changes in hours and shifts, or extra duties for the same money.

This all adds up to a tough message to tell. But maybe not told in such a tough way.

Let me digress for a moment to the last video that we produced on this kind of a topic. During the planning stage of production, the firm’s video team were polarised between a director who wanted to spell things out in a fairly tough way, and others in the team who wanted to adopt a more compassionate approach.

It was a hard call. The director felt that the issue was simple, that those being fired would hate the company and be mad as hell, so there wasn’t much point in trying to look soft, other than spell out the benefits package clearly so everyone knew where they stood. And also that everything was legally watertight.

The compassionate group felt that people needed a softer approach to help them get over their natural feelings of helplessness and despair. After all, many of them had worked there for over 20 years. The emphasis would be put on retraining facilities available in the locality, and how to demonstrate how many people these days successfully adapt to a midlife career change.

All this is a bit gossipy for a Video Q&A column, but it does highlight the intense emotional issues involved, quite different to a regular corporate video.

All of sudden lives and livings are at stake.

On top of this an introduction to the new work practices for the staff who remain has to be included.

An interactive DVD becomes a must, especially as the suggested overall video runtime is 30 minutes, which is relatively long for a single corporate video.

Interactivity means that viewers can select the areas that interest them most, and play them in the order they choose, which is what I think is required here.

Organising the shoot will have its problems too, as families need to be shot in the home, and probably at a time which is convenient to them, rather than conform to an optimised shoot schedule. So this has to be taken into consideration, and will probably increase the cost as extra shoot days will be needed for some families.

Questionnaires and Guidance Notes for Interviewees will need sending out in advance so that families will know what to expect when the crew arrives, and what is expected of them personally. Interviewees are usually very concerned about saying the wrong thing. Guidance Notes that spell out how there are no right or wrong answers will help a lot here.

Encouraging people to be free and frank will generate a lot of bluster, but usually once the blustering is over, the responses get better. On the other hand, wading in with direct questions will just make people conceal their feelings and give stiff answers – or simply bluster anyway!

I’d recommend videoing at least 8 families to be sure of getting the type of responses you require. And if you can, 12 interviews are even better as it’ll provide more useful material for the edit, and deliver a better end result.

The same for staff members at work describing their reactions to the new practices. You need 8, and preferably 12 or more to be sure of good material.

In summary:

> clearly determine your emotional approach in advance to this charged issue

> plan video interviews with families carefully, and ensure you have enough of them.

> deliver the video using an interactive DVD so viewers can choose what they want to watch.

You can see some workforce video examples here
© Studio Rossiter 2006

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