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The new motivational messengers

The new motivational messengers
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First Published: Sun, Jul 11 2010. 07 25 PM IST
Updated: Sun, Jul 11 2010. 07 25 PM IST
A few months ago film-maker Varun Agarwal, 23, founder of Last Minute Films in Bangalore, had an unusual assignment. He had to make a series of short, inspiring, entertaining virals that would help eMids Technologies Pvt. Ltd (an information technology company) introduce itself to potential employees and motivate its team. Agarwal, who had made a few corporate films (short, documentary-style videos that showcase a company’s products and people) earlier, was surprised when he got a free hand on the film.
“It’s not often that organizations are willing to spend money to inspire their employees or future employees through a creative medium,” says Agarwal.
After visiting the office a couple of times, one thing was clear—eMids had some very vibrant people with great ideas. Agarwal decided not to pre-script the video and let the employees speak freely about the experience of working with the company.
Also See eMids virals
“When we decided to dish out Rs10-15 lakh from our HR budget to create an identity and face for the eMids workforce,” says Jayashankar Balaraman, director, corporate development, eMids, Bangalore, “the idea was to positively reinforce our HR brand equity while fostering unity among employees and making eMids a more desirable, fun place to work.”
Delhi-based film-maker Veneet Raj Bagga, director of Onions Creative Media, says companies are realizing the value of high-quality and creative films, and setting aside the right kind of budget for them. “We’ve made films in the past for Hyundai and Genpact for internal motivation,” he says, “but they were few and far in between. It’s only recently that the head honchos are being exposed to international work cultures and the demand for such films has gained thrust.”
It took Agarwal just two days to shoot at eMids’ Bangalore office. He converted a conference room into a makeshift studio and shot over 3 hours of footage which was later edited into a viral featuring employees who were picked randomly to talk about their work experience at eMids. The result was a youthful film with an “ad-like” feel designed to inspire—not preach. Agarwal also experimented with the stop-motion technique and used a funky music track from Chennai-based band Junkyard Groove for another viral he created for them. The track humorously defined the everyday office atmosphere at eMids.
Expansion of a new vision
With companies trying to find and keep the right talent on board, it is almost inevitable that they will try innovative ways to stand out. More and more human resource departments are now realizing the power of the video in motivating employees and as a tool for sourcing the right candidates to hire. “Traditionally the objectives of HR have remained the same—to create a desirable work environment and familiarize employees with the vision of the company in the most effective manner. What’s different now is that the same objectives are being achieved more effectively with innovative methods,” says Jyotika Dhawan, managing director, Helix HR, New Delhi.
And virals and short videos about a company’s working culture are part of these innovative methods. Dhawan believes that the new breed of corporate films make a positive impact on prospective recruits and ensure greater visibility at campus placements. “In some ways, such practices could actually prove to be more cost-effective and less time-consuming for a large organization to get its message across.”
In fact, before YouTube brought the power of virals into focus, NIIT had recognized the value of speaking through moving pictures. The company set up an in-house film-making unit in New Delhi way back in 1985. “Traditionally, a corporate film was a way of putting across to investors, seniors and the corporate market how solvent the company is. In other words, it was a more sophisticated version of a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the strengths of the company,” says Gajen Seth, creative head, visual communications, NIIT, New Delhi. But NIIT did not want to limit its films to investors and customers. It decided to focus on making films that would put across the essence of the company to its employees. “We wanted to reach out to our employee and our clients (especially students at their study centres). We have always found that video was a powerful medium to define our work culture, rejuvenate our workforce and create a unique NIIT identity,” says Seth.
The employee pitch
Over the years, Seth and his team have made hundreds of videos. Some of these videos have a “deliberate” fun element, and involve employees and leaders to foster a more enthusiastic atmosphere at work. Seth believes these videos have in their own way contributed to NIIT’s low attrition rate.
New Delhi-based Sunil Sirohi, vice-president, Technical Resources, who has been with NIIT for 19 years, notes that the visual medium has a great impact on employees as a tool of recognition. “These films have greater recall value than seminars, lectures or training programmes, and small gestures such as these are a constant reminder that each one of us is important. Over the years, these films have inculcated a sense of belonging and pride—something many other companies fail to provide,” says Sirohi.
Unlike NIIT, which prefers to keep its HR initiatives internal, eMids chose to upload its videos on its recruitment website www.joinemids.com. It even posted these short films on social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube in February. The result? In the last five months, these virals have had 13,000 views on YouTube alone. “The more views we get, the greater our message spreads. We have also managed to create a strong Web community for the company in no time,” says Balaraman.
For eMids employees, it has dramatically enhanced the perception of their employer. “The whole process of being part of the eMids video was fun,” says Roshni Toniyot, junior associate at eMids, Bangalore. “But what was even more exciting was the fact that people—my friends and people who wanted to work with our company—often say it seems like I work in an organization that has an international work environment, like that of Google. It’s a huge compliment and a great ego boost.”
There was a time when corporate film-makers could be distinguished from creative film-makers—but not any more. Companies no longer hesitate to experiment with new ideas from rookie film-makers. Offish Films, Mumbai, is one such young production company, started in October by National Institute of Design graduate Prasun Basu. Specializing in animation, the company—which does television commercials, channel promos, and production and art design for films—has also worked on a few projects where companies were eager to “speak” to employees through an effective visual medium.
Traditionally, animated films never got a big bite of the corporate pie simply because they cost a lot more than shoot-based productions,” says Basu, who’s worked on inspiring brand identity films for Citibank employees. “However, a few organizations seem to be redefining their outlook and are ready to go all out to connect with their employees.”
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First Published: Sun, Jul 11 2010. 07 25 PM IST