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Q: We have up to 1,000 staff distributed across the UK, and we need a DVD that explains our company to our existing workforce and new starters

Operations Director
Outsourced Services Company
East Midlands

A: A workforce DVD is a big step up from a “standard” internal company newsletter.

Having staff that are outsourced to a host of other companies throughout the country presents its own set of unique problems too.

Typically the problems of a distributed workforce include:

> Incomplete understanding of their company’s values and purpose

> Too much variation in standards and attitude, especially towards customers

> Local pockets of discontent

Because a DVD provides a consistent, repeatable and memorable message, it’s an excellent medium for distributing to your workforce.

But first and foremost, your workforce DVD has to be credible to your staff.

What do we mean by credible?

Well let’s look at the opposite. For example, a DVD with voiceover explaining the scope and capability of your operation will be informative, but hardly motivating. And therefore not very credible.

On the other hand, a video which comprises many individuals in your workforce discussing the company, and explaining the qualities they think are required for the job carries high credibility.

The reason for this is that your workforce are running the video, rather than the alternative of a paid mouthpiece presenter or voiceover, or your CEO trying to enthuse people to take a better attitude.

We call this method the voxpop approach

The basic method is to send a camera crew around your various sites, and interview maybe 20 or more individuals in your workforce, and film their responses to a set of pre-prepared questions and guidance notes

In this way, the DVD will be “made by the workforce”, in a language that other workers will understand.

This is the overall approach. But within that you’ll need to make sure that replies are constructive, and make sense.

This is achieved by asking staff questions that make sense to them, rather than asking them simply to become company mouthpieces (which always shows).

So what are the issues that make sense to a workforce (excluding pay, of course)?

> Job security

> Personal advancement

These are the core motivators in any workforce – security or promotion or both.

So whatever you ask them has to encompass these two prime needs.

Also remember that career and promotion topics are only relevant in expanding enterprises, where there is a high level of internal recruitment, which is currently the case with many outsourcing and FM companies.

Examples of topics for discussion on camera include, say, staff discussing attitudes to the customer, who they probably meet every day. It might go like this:

– Without the customer we don’t have a job

– You have to be pleasant to them, make life easier for them

– The more we please the customer, the more they’ll use us, and the more opportunities will arise for everyone

– It doesn’t take much to please the customer, but it goes a long way, and benefits us all

Hopefully you can see how in just a few soundbites, we’ve made a case for looking after the customer which carries far more weight than simply having a voiceover or a director explain this need.

Welfare issues and social life outside work, or contributions to charities can also be included, as they show the company has a heart.

A workforce DVD needs to look stylish too so that viewers will be impressed, and proud of how good their company looks on film.

As an example, I showed a workforce DVD to one company recently. Their first reaction was that this company on film looked “too good” and that they couldn’t aspire to look that good.

Then I explained that the company on film had this first reaction too when they first considered producing a workforce DVD.

Yet obviously by following the Method, everything came out looking great once it was all shot and edited together and post produced.

The other big reaction I get when is “our workforce would never say nice things about us” or something similar.

Don’t worry. You’ll be surprised at how sensible and professional people are on camera. Not everyone obviously, but enough to produce a good DVD.

To ensure there are enough constructive comments we interview lots and lots of people so that that once the unhelpful comments are edited out, there are still enough positive comments left to produce an interesting video.

Managers and directors, as well as staff, can be included so long as there is a balance, and the DVD isn’t perceived as hijacked by the people at the top. Strike a balance.

You’ll need to shoot at different locations around the country too, to get a good demographic mix of regional accents, gender, age, ethnic background and so on.

Allow about three months for this type of production, as it takes a lot of planning to organise 3 or 4 or more shoot days across the country.

You’ll need television style titling and graphics, to ensure an impressive look.

With all these things taken together, you’ll have a workforce DVD that you and all your company from the lowest to the highest will be proud of.

You can find workforce DVDs and similar here

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