How to create employee training videos

November 6, 2019
As organisations large and small move to embrace the power of video, it’s no longer just stalwarts like marketing departments looking to get on board. Functions like human resources (HR), learning and development (L&D), and internal communications (IC) – even sales – are beginning to realise video’s potential… And the potential for corporate training programs to deliver better engagement, knowledge acquisition, retention, and ultimately, employee and business success. In this blog post, we’ll look at how to create employee training videos for impact, covering employee onboarding, compliance training, professional development, and sales and customer service training videos. We’ll also include helpful tips and tricks for creating your content, with a focus on digital transformation, learning management systems and blended programs. So you can make the most of your training content, both current and future – and win with video!

Why employee training videos?

Firstly, because they’re already here. According to US Training Magazine’s 2018 Training Industry Report, 69% of companies use video / online classrooms / webcasting learning technologies most frequently. So if you’re not a member of that majority, be warned – your competitors aren’t likely just thinking about video, they’re already doing it. And if you’re not, you’re at risk of being left behind. Secondly, because the UK Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has identified modern employee educators’ responsibilities now include “designing blended learning solutions”, and “using digital tools to create flexible and innovative learning programmes”. This means not only creating multimedia deliverables for visual and auditory learning styles, but also incorporating elements for kinesthetic and reading / writing learning styles (this can be done using interactive or text-supported videos e.g. with captions); as well as accommodating learners with on-demand, self-paced training that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. And as we know, video fits the bill perfectly here. Finally, if effective modern education isn’t compelling enough, let’s talk costs. Any organisation running face-to-face training knows expenses can be prohibitive – travel, accommodation, meals, even stationery can rack up an outlay. So here’s a case study: when Microsoft Academy’s video podcasting portal launched, it substituted in-person classrooms with virtual training, leveraging video to reduce costs from $320 per hour, per participant, to an estimated $17 per person – total. To quote Microsoft directly, “in Year 1 of the Academy portal implementation, cost avoidance was valued at roughly $5.8 million, and the projected ROI was 432%”. The result: for the same investment, Microsoft can train more people than ever before. Now that’s how to scale with video!
The switch to video reduced the costs for classroom training from approximately $320 per hour per participant down to just $17 per person.
Microsoft, Learning & Development
So let’s get down to creating employee training videos. In this next section, we’ll explore videos across a range of departments, so you can walk away with solid ideas for how to get the ball rolling in your business. Read on…

Employee onboarding videos

Onboarding videos introduce staff to a company’s brand values and business policies, with the goal of aligning employees on expectations for workplace culture and behavioural standards. While departmental onboardings are typically more granular, and may outline a function’s core remit and responsibilities, wider company onboardings are often a new starter’s first internal brand experience; and as such, form the foundation for accruing organisational acumen. They can also serve as a preface for compliance-based training. Here’s how to create a great employee onboarding video:
  • Choose your length: One of the biggest factors will be whether your video is for internal and / or external use. Employee-only videos tend to be much longer than public-facing talent brand content, as by the time an employee has started a new job, they’re obviously more invested than the passing applicant, and will dedicate more time to learning the ins and outs of their new company. Deloitte’s gamified video below – while publicly available – is a 30-minute ‘a day in the life’ experience, with ‘choose your own adventure’ sequences to showcase Deloitte’s values in action.
    • On this note, the longer your video is, the more footage (i.e. shoot time) you’ll need – so keep this in mind when preparing shot lists, internal availability, or renting gear or props.
  • Make a great first impression: As mentioned, your onboarding will likely form people’s first interaction with your brand as an employee, which makes your video as much a marketing / public relations piece as it does a training one. To excite and inspire staff, think about emotive footage to include to reinforce this, like cutaways from product launches, high-profile events or social campaigns, as well as any internal-only content that has a VIP-y feel.
    • Let your brand’s personality shine. If you have a strong internal culture, play to that – show humour, happy employees, team bonding and anything else you feel sets the scene.
    • When choosing background music, a positive and energetic track that builds to a crescendo will make employees feel like they’re ‘arrived’.
  • Familiarise employees: Your onboarding video is a great time to showcase your employees’ new environment, shots of their national or regional office – even behind-the-scenes footage from your worldwide headquarters, if applicable! So no matter whether you’re a global business with grounds like Apple’s Apple Park, or a start-up with a unique workplace (*ahem* vintage car in your warehouse, ping pong every day at 2:30pm…), take the opportunity to do a whistle-stop tour of your organisation and pique people’s interest.
    • And film everywhere! Unless your workplace is a small enclosed area, do your best not to make it look like one. Consider recording any pieces to camera by people’s desks (meeting rooms as backdrops are dull and don’t reflect fun for most people), as well as shots like:
      • Building exteriors and outdoor areas e.g. balconies
      • Reception
      • Common areas / breakout rooms / collaboration spaces
      • The cafeteria
  • It’s ‘nuts and bolts’ time: Outside the fun stuff, like publicity and interior design, there is, of course, your video’s goal: to bring new employees across the way your organisation does things e.g. business procedures, perks and policies – basically, to operate as a mini-handbook on culture and conduct.
    • Procedures – it’s helpful to treat this section as a FAQ, as most new starters will have the same questions (what day of the month do I get paid? How do I submit annual or sick leave to my manager? Where do I lodge any expense receipts?).
    • Perks – employee benefits like company health insurance or fitness reimbursements, as well as paid parental leave or employee assistance, are often big selling points, so make sure to list what’s available and how to access them.
    • Policies – it’s best to outline any core policies like workplace harassment and discrimination, information and data security, and any other initiatives like diversity, wellness or sustainability programs, as well as how to get help if need be.
      • It’s also good to cover any professional development opportunities, like if your organisation has a dedicated in-house e-learning portal, and what kind of training is available.
    • Note: onboarding videos are where blended learning, such as any required forms or helpful resources, can alleviate the pressure of feeling like you must include every HR detail in your video (not so – just link out to full digital materials in your video’s description on your hosting platform, and you’re set).
  • Share ASAP: Ideally, your employee onboarding video should be in people’s hands / inboxes on their first day, so everyone can put their best feet forward from the outset… So make it a priority!
  Check out this interactive video example by Deloitte.

Compliance training videos

Compliance videos can span anything from occupational health and safety (OH&S e.g. manual handling), to diversity, information protection, sustainability training and more. Because compliance is a mandatory process, content is often perceived as dry (read: boring), however it is possible to create engaging compliance videos – without compromising on importance! A few pointers for compliance training videos for employees:
  • Keep it simple: Keep your message(s) as clear, concise and relatable as possible for compliance content.
    • Where possible, use simple, conversational language – only use acronyms / technical terms when there’s no other way to make a point (e.g. need-to-know definitions).
  • Start with upfront context: Nip any resistance in the bud by explaining why this training is important and how it will help your employees, in a welcoming, approachable way. A positive introduction goes a long way to ensuring viewer engagement and video completion.
    • Use talent whose delivery is friendly and easy to empathise with, so audiences connect immediately.
    • Similarly, choose a background track that’s upbeat and comfortably paced (i.e. not too fast or slow), unless you’re covering more serious subject matter; in which case, keep it as unobtrusive as possible.
    • Do highlight any ancillary benefits to training, like personal development or desirable / transferable skills, and give context as to any ongoing career value.
  • Outline key messages: After your introduction, a quick agenda sets expectations for video runtime. Ideally, you’ll want to keep key messages to a minimum (three to five points), as it’s much easier to hold people’s attention by breaking content into a few five-minute videos than making staff watch a 20-minute compliance video (as above, work with resistance)!
    • If your compliance training involves step-by-step instructions, your key messages should occur in a chronological sequence.
  • Be practical: Shoot actual footage of any physical processes wherever possible. The more action and variety in your visuals, the more likely your audience will be to stay engaged. For topics that can’t be shown with video,  consider using interviews or alternating ‘talking head’ presenters / vox pops.
  • Use humour (appropriately): No matter your content, opportunities will exist to line up a joke or two – use them! It adds a little human touch.
  • Recap with resources: Reinforce key takeaways in a short recap at the end of your video – with text overlays – to highlight the most important points you need employees to remember. Don’t forget to provide an easy way for employees to learn more, or recap in their own time by directing them to further information / resources.
A creative example is Air New Zealand’s flight safety videos:

Professional development videos

One of the more rewarding parts of employee training is talent development, especially for advancing capabilities and succession planning e.g. new management coaching. These internal HR videos, hosted within a company’s learning management system (LMS), often cover soft skills like verbal communication and professionalism, leadership, and negotiation and conflict resolution, with roleplaying or multiple choice scenarios as learning aids. To create professional development videos for your teams:
    • Keep the context: Provide the ‘why’ behind each topic and the direct benefit to staff. While some people will arrive at your video pre-invested, this will help motivate any employees in the lower end of Max Landsberg’s ‘Skill-will Matrix’, by helping excite them around how training will improve their work experience. This way, they’re more likely to engage and retain learnings.
  • Prioritise relevant or required skills: Professional development training is often popular with employees, as it’s perceived as beneficial to individuals looking to maximise their career opportunities and growth. Take advantage of this appeal by designing videos that mix in wider relevant and required skills (or themes) within your company; for example, a focus on your company’s new diversity initiative for team recruitment and development videos. 
      • For the above example, you may even find you have publicity footage you can leverage as cutaways.
  • Also, look at what crossover exists within your compliance catalogue e.g. fire warden training could be seen as having leadership benefits. 
    • Have fun with format: A video shouldn’t feel like a traditional classroom. So have fun, and maximise the medium with stimulating visuals:
      • Shoot multiple angles of trainers and presenters.
      • Shoot practical demonstrations of anything relevant to the topic.
      • Shoot cutaways of anything mentioned by talent.
      • Mix interviews into videos, instead of having one person deliver an extended piece to camera.
      • Feature other trainees that viewers can relate to (past or present), and have them share their training experiences, learnings or any other related comments within the video.
  • Use visuals like diagrams / graphics: No matter whether you’re covering goal setting, innovation, presentation skills, or stress or time management, eventually, you’ll need visuals to communicate a theory or process. They don’t need to be fancy design-led animations, but do take the time to source quality visuals when introducing or breaking down a subject, especially if it’s complex. 
  • Just be sure to keep them simple and use them sparingly. Information should be understandable at a glance; if it’s not, then it’s best shared as downloadable support content.
  • Empower accountability: While every organisation should invest in staff development, ultimately it falls on the employee to own their growth. Using your video’s call to action, offer downloadable resources like individual development plans to track objectives and milestones, and for next steps, include sequential videos to aid people as they advance within a topic (as well as additional courses). If your LMS has self-assessment capabilities, this is a great way to cement video learnings and outline future goals for attainment.
Harvard ManageMentor’s e-learning platform uses video to great effect:

Sales and customer service training videos

A key use case for employee training videos is within sales enablement, and customer service and support teams. This is particularly valuable for industries like front-line retail, where staff turnover rates are often high and training new employees is a necessary expense. Video is also useful for demonstrating sales conversations and navigating challenging interactions. To create great sales and customer service training videos:
  • Even more context: For sales and customer service employees, training is often expected, if not formally mandated – so you may or may not encounter resistance here too. For a positive spin, take a leaf out of professional development’s book, and ‘start with why’ (and how) this content will help drive employee success. For salespeople on commission structures, this should prove incentivising; for customer service representatives, try framing around the competence and confidence to manage any situation.
  • Educate about your products: For most businesses, priority one will be getting staff, new or existing, across your products (and / or services) – particularly in the wake of a new product announcement or update. This includes outlining key messages, how to handle objections, key benefits to demonstrate and any upsells. If you’ve got a lot to cover, it may help to break content into a short batch of videos.
    • It can also be helpful to create a customer-query product FAQ video, as this will benefit all employees.
  • Roleplay, roleplay, roleplay: Demonstrating customer role play scenarios for sales and support employees is one of the biggest value-add things you can do when leveraging videos for training – it’s one of the key ways video helps scale L&D, especially for global organisations. Video makes roleplay exchanges simple for viewers to observe, start, replay and stop to notetake, so make the most of video (vs. face-to-face) training by featuring examples of objections and demos.
    • Here, one technique is pausing on-screen to walk through why applied dialogue works, then visualising with callouts and annotations.
    • Pro tip: give employees / actors your company’s buyer persona characters to help bring ideal customers to life; conversely, you can also use real-life stories when demonstrating how to handle challenging customer conversations. And choose experienced staff, who can roleplay with authenticity (especially if playing a customer!).
  • Notes on Sales training videos:
    • While most videos will focus on conversations (e.g. roleplaying diagnostic consultation) or productivity, topics like presentations and pitching are also another avenue for video content – slides can easily be spliced into video walkthroughs to exhibit presentation skills.
    • Try not to be overly prescriptive. The reality is that every employee is different and rote learning a standardised sales script doesn’t work for everyone. Give your salespeople clear steps to follow, but with the leeway to personalise delivery without having to reinvent messages for every single type of customer.
  • Notes on Customer Service training videos:
    • Unlike sales, customer service and support is where being prescriptive helps standardise service to ensure quality assurance levels and fair treatment, no matter the customer or issue. List clear, repeatable steps that lead to a desired result in service situations, and be extra clear on escalation processes and timelines.
      • Don’t forget to include links to resources e.g. where to find communication guidelines on your company intranet.
A bite-sized sales training example is HubSpot’s 10 tips in 60 seconds:

Bonus: Presenter Video

Finally, another useful training video format is the ‘presenter video’, where you record a live instructor-led training, usually for those who missed the session (or for those who want to refer to / rewatch it later). However, this content is also a great way to start thinking about video at scale – not only can you bank it for future trainees, but depending on its relevance, you could also add it to other learning streams!

Tips and tricks for creating employee training videos

Digital transformation

For organisations in digital transformation mode (i.e. with pre-existing static materials like text-based PDFs or slide decks), your job is actually easier – as you already have materials you can leverage to reformat into video scripts. Great news, right? For everyone else, you probably already have a learning path in mind for your first video venture, so it’s just a matter of pairing your instructional design with visual communication, using scripts and storyboards.

Learning management systems

A few notes on video delivery via company learning management systems (LMS):
  • Firstly, video files can be ‘heavy’ in terms of size. Think about your employees, their internet connection speeds, whether they’ll be accessing content on mobile (i.e. personal mobile data usage) etc., and make sure you upload an appropriate video file size accordingly.
  • Next, accessibility – and learning style – best practice means including a .srt file with your video, so employees have the choice of reading captions on their device. Video captioning services are generally inexpensive, and an easy way to enhance the user experience.
    • We do advise against ‘burning in’ text, as this can render font sizes too small to read on mobile screens; they also don’t assist screen reader technology for the visually impaired.
  • Finally, depending on your LMS and whether your videos are mandatory, you may want to consider disabling the option for viewers to skip ahead to the end (if this will mark their activity as complete). Because, let’s face it, there’s always one person who tries to game the system!

Blended learning

Video gives you so many opportunities to maximise growth – and like traditional educational methods, all it takes is a little planning. With video, employees (or actors) can roleplay ‘what if?’ scenarios, or you can dial it back with an introduction by a ‘talking head’ presenter leading into a screen-recording and voice-over. You can even include section quizzes (interactive, if your LMS has the capability, or even just static with a slide inserted) – as well as supplementary resources like summary sheets, presentation decks, and even transcripts of your videos. So that’s it! We hope this how-to has given you some great ideas for your next employee training video project.

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