Why Should You Add Animated Videos to Your HR Communications Toolkit?

By Andrew Davies

Video has become a necessary tool in HR communications. Adding some animation in the mix adds another level of clarity and flexibility to your communications strategy.

Firstly, Why Videos?

A lot has been written on the power of video already, but to summarize, video has three key attributes that make it an essential part of any effective HR communication media mix:

  1. They’re attention-grabbing
  2. They’re persuasive and
  3. They’re trackable.

“Four out of five executives said video use improves productivity and efficiency in their organizations [and] 73% of the executives reported that they want their company to expand the use of video.”

-Kontzer, Tony, Companies Are Making Video a Key Priority, Baseline. 10/13/2014, p1-1. 1p

They’re Attention-Grabbing

In the ever-intensifying battle for your employees’ attention, videos stand out in a crowded content marketplace. Whether you need to attract talentonboard new hires, or keep employees trained and engaged, using video almost guarantees your message gets noticed.

“…simply including the word ‘video’ in an email’s subject line saw an increase of 7%-13% in overall click-thru rates…”

– Experian Marketing Services Study

They’re Persuasive

People are more likely to take some action after watching a video. This goes for consumers as well as employees. Maybe the combination of moving visuals and audio has a more emotional connection with the audience causing them to stay with the media longer. Or maybe there’s a better sense of understanding what’s required of them after watching a video. Whatever the reason, consumer marketers have been using this aspect of video’s mind-hacking abilities to sell products for decades, why not use it in your internal communications?

“…78 percent of the more than 173,000 employees who received a video e-mail “postcard” related to benefits viewed the video at least once.”

-Joanne Sammer, Using Videos in Benefits Communications, SHRM, May 31, 2017

“76 percent of consumers report they’ve purchased a product or service after viewing a video, with the most being the Millennial demographic”

 2018 Video Marketing Survey, Brightcove

They’re Trackable

The reason we know videos are grabbing attention and turning viewers into doers is because we can look at the data. Unlike analog communication methods, there’s a wealth of insights waiting for those willing to look into video analytics. You can track click-through rates to see how many people are watching your video, view rates to see how often they watch, and drop-off rates to see when viewers lose interest. This comes in handy when you’re optimizing your communication efforts since you can continually measure which adjustments are working and which need more attention.

“With detailed video analytics, trainers can see the parts of training videos that get viewed the most, and they can see where people aren’t spending their time.”

– Panopto, 7 Ideas For Innovating Your Leadership Training With Video, 2020

OK Fine, But Why ANIMATED Videos?

In addition to the above attributes that are intrinsic to online video, animated videos have a few added benefits that make them even more powerful tools in certain situations.

They’re Clarifying

Animation can make even the most abstract idea tangible and easy to grasp. Without the limitations of physical reality getting in the way, animated videos are free to play with scale and visual metaphors to further clarify complex topics. The combination of the moving visuals with written or spoken text reinforces the material helping viewers get a better sense of what you’re trying to say.

If you’ve ever watched Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix show Patriot Act, you know that even with the most engaging speaker delivering fascinating information it’s easy to get distracted by insignificant details like what they’re wearing or their body language. With animated characters or graphics, you can get straight to the meat of the issue without worrying about losing your audience to over-exuberant hand gestures.

They’re Easier to Make & Maintain

With an animated video, there’s no need for cameras, lighting setups, and actors. There are fewer moving parts to manage and costs to consider. Plus, making changes, later on, is easier and more efficient since there’s no cast and crew to re-book and reschedule. If a particular benefits’ video only needs a few dates or figures changed the following year, it’s as if your project is nearly complete before it’s even begun.

Depending on the level of complexity and desired production value, producing an animated video could be as easy as adapting a Powerpoint presentation, buying access to a templated animation product, like PowToon or Vyond, or working with an animation vendor you trust. Either way, unless you have live-action video production facilities in-house, creating an animated video ends up being a more streamlined process.

“Making changes to the script or how something looked after the production is over isn’t always easy. Going back and fixing or changing something could mean a lot of extra costs. With live-action video, booking talent and crew for another day or more reshoots can be pricey.”

– Alyce Currier, Wistia

More Animation on the Horizon?

Many HR departments have already discovered that animated videos are great at explaining benefits, demonstrating HR portals and other software, as well as promoting wellness initiatives. As video becomes the second language of HR communications, the reality is, you’re going to need to make more of them. Employees will come to expect them, which will result in employers wanting to use them with increasing frequency. Knowing what video styles yield the best response for your specific message is key to an HR professional’s effectiveness in the workplace of the future.