By Gill Brabner
As home and hybrid working (partly at home, partly in the workplace) becomes much more acceptable around the globe, the work-life balance has been restored for many employees.
The downside? In the absence of regular access to peers and managers, it’s more essential than ever to ensure staff received quality, targeted training, and drama-based videos are top of the list to deliver it. Training and development provider, Resound Training are expert in developing video training for all industries.
We are all familiar with instructional videos which enable us to learn new software step by step, sort a daunting DIY task or even sprinkle a little Nigella magic in the kitchen. But there is another video genre that can land some important messages and deliver some great outcomes for home and hybrid workers.
We are talking about videos that tell a story, a professionally scripted mini-drama that features professional actors rather than Bob from IT. Mini-dramas are perfect for learning about workplace behaviors from a range of perspectives.
What makes storytelling a useful medium for workplace learning? The answer is the metacognitive complexity that is a feature of fiction and lacking in non-fiction (Zunshine 2013). We engage with stories and become immersed when we care about the characters because we recognize something about them in ourselves, so we take notice.
We learn, according to Schank (1990) ‘from a re-examination of our own stories.’ This means that whilst the video scenarios may be fiction they still need to feel real. Stories provide the opportunity for learners to empathize with the characters and the situations they find themselves in.
And video can capture both the work context and the emotional landscape of the organization. To put it simply storytelling through video has the power to be transformative.
Popular topics for work-based videos
Let’s look at some examples: ‘Difficult conversations’ is a very popular topic for work-based learning and it shows up under a range of titles including ‘honest conversations’, ‘meaningful conversations’ ‘challenging conversations’ etc. It all boils down to the same thing: a conversation that typically gets avoided, is tricky to navigate, potentially embarrassing, and where both parties are anxious about managing their own responses as well as the reaction of the other.
Now we can tell managers how to handle these conversations, we can explain the pitfalls and how to avoid them, BUT how much do we learn, retain and apply from information? Not much! However, when we are emotionally engaged, behavior change becomes effortless because we remember the feelings that came up for us when we saw the team member character in the video feeling upset, embarrassed, angry, etc.
We can pinpoint the moment the conversation took a wrong turn. The famous playwright Arthur Miller described all stories as ‘the birds are coming home to roost’ and we can all sense when that is about to happen to one of the characters we are watching! And at this point, we are very receptive to learning about what we need to do to get this right, for ourselves and for others.
Video is the perfect channel for showing managers how to handle these sensitive issues – and showing rather than telling is always a winner. Performance management, appraisals, sickness absence, lateness, and even personal hygiene offer scope for highly engaging video content.
Customer care scenarios are also very popular with organizations as once again they show the problem from multiple perspectives rather than telling the viewer what to do. Video can be used to highlight issues that most of the workforce will be unaware of, such as the huge pressure family carers are under when juggling work with caring responsibilities.
And then of course there is the thorny issue which just won’t go away: workplace bullying and harassment.
Brash, bawdy, lively, and fun, Brenda is the sort of character that lights up a dull, monotonous workday. She has a laugh and a giggle, she tells stories, leaves little post-it notes for colleagues, and sends jokes emails, against company policy. After work, Brenda likes a drink and she regularly organizes after-hours social events. As a long-standing employee, she has cultivated a power base from her knowledge of the organization and everyone in it, storing up useful bits of gossip on colleagues.
When our viewers first meet Brenda they are swept along by her gregarious personality but through a series of short video clips, they imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end of Brenda’s behavior. They start to question their preconceptions and prejudices and in doing so decide that Brenda’s birds must come home to roost.
Using video as part of your online learning strategy
Now that so many of us are working from home for a part, if not all, of the working week, it makes sense to utilize the huge potential that video offers for workplace learning.
Drama-based videos can be used as stand-alone resources, and they can be embedded into online courses. They make brilliant pre or post-course learning resources and work very well when played during a live virtual session on Teams or Zoom and then discussed by the group. One of our favorite ways to use our video content is to play a short drama video on a live virtual call and then introduce the characters, who have joined the call, to the group.
Our learners then give advice to the characters in the live session. It makes for a highly immersive, exciting learning experience. When we used this approach for a CIPD virtual session last year over 800 delegates booked to join the call.
As you can imagine the chat box was on fire! And there you have it. The reasons why you should be embracing video training today.
If you would like to discuss how drama-based video content can support your learners get in touch here.