We are the products of our stories. Our past, present, and future form a combination of experiences and narratives that we have written in the past and choose to write in the future. If you are one of those people who still believe that stories are something to be read in a children’s book, you are utterly wrong.
Companies today are not only promoting their products, services, and branding through visual storytelling but they are also weaving impactful narratives by positively impacting their employee’s engagement and experience.
A symbiotic relationship like that of an employer and employee needs to be cherished, constantly. You are building an ecosystem of trust, acknowledgment, and mutual respect that helps in creating an engaged workforce.
However, there has to be a method to this madness.
Storytelling is one of the most effective ways of developing a positive, loyal, and lasting relationship with your staff. Visual storytelling helps in creating the right perception and understanding of what an organization stands for, and carves an on-going communication pathway, for both employees and employers.
Storytelling and Visual Storytelling
There are moments when managers, HR, and executives don’t even have an inkling on how to introduce their employees to a new idea or engage them in implementing a new strategy. Sometimes this happens because leaders underestimate the power of storytelling, even though it’s a proven, effective way to create a broader understanding.
People acquire a large percentage of knowledge through storytelling. Add visual storytelling into the mix, and the speed of understanding increases to an exponential level.
Why you wonder?
Because 90% of the information transmitted to our brain is visual. Humans tend to react fastest to visual cues. Therefore, visual storytelling is top of the communication and engagement pyramid.
Visual stories are a great way to turn ‘dry’ information into
something that people will understand and remember.
Why Visual Storytelling?
Pictures and pictorials have been part of human communication since prehistoric ages, like the paintings on the cave walls of El Castillo and Chauvet. Today, these visual stories can be of great help to organizations by turning the abstract ideas, dry numbers, and dispersed information into something meaningful.
Good storytelling is a complete package of meaning, context, and emotions that draws people to a particular story. It accelerates understanding and forms a fast, consistent & common language for organizations to get and keep their people engaged. In return, organizations can expect higher employee participation, informed staff and a more productive workforce.
Visual storytelling through video content, infographics, and other digital media can simplify complex issues. It can compress big-data into understandable facts while appealing to the new world, one that expects app-like experiences. Video content channels can reach employees at any time, anywhere, giving a real-time vibe to employee engagement.
Visual communication a.k.a visual storytelling is already a big thing in B2B marketing and is now making its way into employee engagement.
Visual Storytelling as an HR tech solution
Gone are the days when Human Resources was considered as the “fluffy side” of the business. Companies today are going back to the art and science of HR, using data-driven analytics to create real changes in the industry. These analytics seem to be providing substantial evidence to support business decisions, rather than just using instinct or experience. But in order to translate these analytics and data findings to a wider audience, you need a compelling story.
That is where visual storytelling comes into the picture.
- Giving context to actions: Context holds a lot of power, as sometimes a killer context has more power than a “killer app”. Visual storytelling seems to be doing precisely that. For example, many companies are rapidly inclining towards using video as a medium for interviewing and hiring people. While interviews can be done face to face, video interviews (a type of storytelling tool) give a new context to the recruitment process. Coupling video interviews with analyzing tools makes the hiring process fairer while helping the interviewer to look into hidden undertones like eye movements and body language.
- Employer branding: The realm of HR’s responsibility is no longer limited to recruitment & payroll. They also have other duties like employee engagement and becoming the bridge between the company and the employee. Hence, HR’s role also includes brand identity. Corporate identities through visual communication can help the company connect both internal (employees) and external (potential employees) audiences. Most of us know about Slideshare (a SaaS platform for storing and collecting professional content); a platform that was initially used to share slideshows, presentations, documents, and videos and that is now used as a place to show brand autonomy. Did you know that many big startups (like Airbnb, Instagram, etc.) use Slideshare as the stage to narrate their story, history, and growth by sharing their pitch notes of seed and series ‘A’ funding?
- Engaging employees across multiple time zones: Work today is not limited to the office. With the growing trend of employees working remotely, from various time zones, regular engagement along with efficient communication is paramount. The challenge lies in making sure that the company message is relayed to everyone, from any part of the world, and across regional and cultural boundaries. For example, HSBC’s visual approach (see below) weaves statistical information into a narrative that can be understood universally, regardless of language, ethnicity, race, and culture. They try to translate dry information and financial reports into engaging videos for international employees and stakeholders.
- Rebranding your rewards and recognition program: Reward and recognition is a crucial part of any employee engagement program. While some companies go with the conventional approach of a “Hall of Fame” and health benefits, others are experimenting on creating a more interactive, creative, fun and engaging approach to reward and recognition. A point-based reward system seems to be the most popular platform in this area. While a lot of credit goes to the gamified approach to drive the RnR program; credit is also due to the award, medal, and reward point icons, all part of visual storytelling. They not only make the whole employee experience more fun but also make the process of giving and receiving rewards more manageable and understandable. Infosys is one of the many companies that have embraced the point-based reward system and that feels that gamification along with visual storytelling (through infographics and icon branding) has made their RnR program more fun and simple to use. It has significantly enhanced their employee experience. It helped them convert employee-related analytics reports into a powerful story. It also makes it easier for managers and HR to keep tabs on their employees’ involvement level in various initiatives.
Visual storytelling is not restricted to marketing and PR handles; it is an essential part of the company’s DNA. In today’s globalized economy, it’s challenging to create a sense of community and belonging among employees working all over the world. By developing stories that transcend borders and cultures, your workforce can expect a consistent employee experience.
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