10 Reasons Videos And Visual Content Optimize Onboarding

Instructional videos, charts, and graphics improve memory retention; help foster creativity; eliminate recurring questions; and save time.

The first few days at a new job often are called “orientation,” and with good reason. It’s a time when new employees learn the lay of the land, including the company’s core values, the systems they will use every day, and where the restrooms are located. Without a good “map,” this onboarding process can be bewildering. Even worse, your company can create a bad first impression.

Unfortunately, many companies treat onboarding as an afterthought. When an organization comprises 100; 1,000; or even 10,000 people—sometimes spread across several states or continents—important on-the-job instruction can be hard to obtain. New employees may not know the appropriate contact for certain questions. They simply may be too embarrassed to ask other questions. After all, they want to make a good first impression, too.

Videos and other visual content can be a cure for most of these onboarding ills. Visual content addresses several challenging parts of the onboarding experience, making the process more fruitful and less stressful for everyone involved. Instructional videos, charts, and graphics improve memory retention; help foster creativity; eliminate recurring questions; and save time.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are 10 reasons videos and other visual content can help your organization optimize its onboarding process—and even benefit your existing employees.

1. Visual content helps your employees retain what they learn: Visual content is efficient and effective. While research suggests that the average worker remembers just 30 percent of what he or she read (http://creately.com/blog/how-to-increase-workplace-productivity/), a combination of text and images can increase information retention and comprehension by 50 percent. What’s more, the human brain can process visuals at astonishing speeds: up to 60,000 times faster than the same information conveyed by text (http://creately.com/blog/how-to-increase-workplace-productivity/).

2. Visual content helps employees learn and review things on their own time: Many new employees join the workforce right out of school. These younger workers already know and use visual learning tools. A growing number of high schools and universities use videos and other forms of interactive visual content as part of the core coursework. Students expect these kinds of learning aids, and they appreciate that this type of content helps them absorb information quickly and efficiently at any time.

3. Visual content can address common questions without disruption: Start developing ideas for videos, infographics, and other visual content by considering the question, “When I started, what do I wish someone had told me?” The first weeks on the job aren’t just stressful for new employees. Long-time staffers often get inundated by questions on how to use tools or who to contact for certain things. Ask your “go-to” people about the questions they field regularly from new employees. These will make great topics for your first visual explainers—and your staff will be thankful for the effort.

4. Visual content lets you get creative with tutorials: Don’t be afraid to have fun or get experimental with your visual content. At TechSmith, we have an espresso machine that’s a bit complicated to use. So we made a video about how to use the machine. We also put a little QR code on the espresso machine, so people could walk up to it, scan the QR code, and then watch a video about how to use it. It’s a fun little idea that could have helpful applications around the workplace. Contextual videos can explain how to reorder supplies, replace the printer toner, add participants to a conference call, you name it.

5. Videos convey much more than just information: Video captures a whole lot more than the words being said. It even captures more than the sound, the expressions, and the emotions of the person delivering your message. Video also conveys your company’s spirit and culture. Do the people on camera look happy to be there, and are they excited to be delivering your company’s message? It’s important for new employees to see enthusiasm, especially during their first week.

6. Videos are effective for distributed teams: If a CEO wants to deliver important messages and define corporate values to new hires, time of access can be a challenge. An introductory video from the leadership team can help make that personal connection while accommodating busy schedules. Plus, introductory and tutorial videos are readily accessible across time zones and remote workforces. The easy distribution of online video can be a tremendous benefit for many organizations, large and small.

7. Video can show your organization in a natural way: For global organizations or companies with an array of regional offices, videos are a way to show employees in their everyday work environments. Whether these videos are shot in the C-suite, the field, or thousands of miles away, new employees gain a greater sense of context and an opportunity to see your organization at work. It can be a great way to show—rather than tell—the most important aspects of your culture. Celebrate your values by showing them in action.

8. Visual content is a collaborative and creative effort: Once employees have a chance to review visual materials, ask them for feedback about the experience. You’ll gain insight on whether the messages were clear, whether they have further questions about the subject matter, and whether any production issues detracted from the content.

9. Videos are easy to create with today’s technology: These days, almost everyone has a capable high-definition video camera in their pocket. A smartphone is all you need to get started, and a low barrier to entry translates to a world of opportunity. Don’t worry about shooting an Oscar-worthy video on your first try. Just be creative and be open to improvements. The ease and low cost of smartphone videos offer another key benefit: Updating your videos with new content is easy and inexpensive.

10. The more videos you make, the better they’ll get: Even with a smartphone, you can shoot professional-looking videos. This may not happen right away, but it’s important to keep trying. As you gain experience, you can improve your videos with simple framing adjustments, lighting techniques, and steadying your camera with a rig or tripod. Once you master the fundamentals with a smartphone, you’ll be more comfortable using a higher-end camera, a three-point lighting kit, and an external microphone. Those aren’t necessarily the first things you should invest in, but experimenting with a smartphone can help get you there.

Matt Pierce is Learning & Video ambassador at TechSmith Corp., a visual communication company that empowers people to create remarkable content to share knowledge and information. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Pierce has more than 10 years of experience working in Learning and Development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith.