Some stories are difficult to tell. The more personal the story, the more difficult it can be to source a case study. When it comes to matters of sexuality, bullying or racism, for example, interviewees are naturally often reluctant to put themselves in the spotlight. Yet informing colleagues of the importance of such subjects and what to do should they ever experience such abuse, is vital. 

Organisations may well have policies and procedures (often hidden away on an intranet somewhere) but these may be not only inaccessible but difficult to understand and apply, written as they are for a corporate, legally aware, process-driven organisation. Corporates need the policies in place but they also need a way of communicating the subject matter and getting employees to not only be aware of the content but empowered to act on it, should a cause unfortunately ever arise.

This was the task set to us by Derbyshire Community Health Services, a large NHS Trust with employees spread across a large and diverse estate in the county. The vision and values of the organisation, the behaviours expected, and the behaviours that would not be tolerated, needed to be communicated to all staff in an accessible and understandable way.

We took the approach of producing videos  which would be located on the Trust’s new media channels and could be promoted to staff through internal communications activities. Due to the nature of the stories being told, it was not felt appropriate or reasonable to highlight people’s own experiences. Instead, we talked to colleagues across the organisation to gain insights into the types of scenarios that some staff might very occasionally be witness to. From this we were able to develop storylines for a series of animated cartoon videos. Animation has the major benefit over film that we can create hypothetical scenarios using characters that viewers can relate to. Stills from the videos can also be incorporated into supporting internal publicity.

Through characters such as ‘John’ and ‘Che’ we were able to tell stories about how employees could raise concerns through the appropriate channels within the organisation such as by liaising with the ‘freedom to speak up guardian’. It doesn’t all have to be difficult subject matter though. We have also produced a video for the Trust on quality improvement , using quality as the ‘golden thread’ that unites their approach to care. The videos are a great tool for use in staff training sessions. They can help trigger conversations which otherwise would be difficult. They bring policies and procedures alive and leave a lasting impression. Ultimately the video content has helped to create a more positive and productive workplace, where staff can thrive and perform at their best. In difficult circumstances, or in telling difficult stories, animated video may well be the way forward for your organisation.


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