Bumper Carroll, Vice President, Creative, Second City Works
In these unprecedented times, companies and employees are navigating new ways of working and facing a host of related challenges. There are specific risks associated with today’s work environment—data security and inappropriate social media posting, for example—in which it is important to communicate about best practices with far-flung employees. The question for many ethics and compliance teams: how to do it in a way that is engaging, practical and provides relatable guidance.
To meet the need to creatively breaking through the clutter, Second City Works, the professional arm of the famous improv comedy theater, developed Real Biz Shorts. These one- to two-minute videos use humor and relatable scenarios to engage employees about important compliance and ethics topics. Ethisphere recently partnered with Second City Works to offer its full ethics and compliance library along with 16 new videos developed to help companies that are looking to reach their employees—many of whom are now working at home for the first time—in an innovative way.
We spoke to Erica Salmon Byrne, Chair of Ethisphere’s Business Ethics Leadership Alliance (BELA), and Bumper Carroll, Vice President of Content for Second City Works, about this new partnership and how companies can effectively communicate with employees.
Can you talk about how these new videos were developed? What was the impetus for expanding the Real Biz Shorts library?
Bumper Carroll: At Second City Works, we pride ourselves on our responsiveness, which is based on the spirit of collaboration you will find in improv comedy. Using humor, our videos address topics that are relevant to companies right now. We’ve always addressed common topics including gifts and entertainment, but we wanted these new videos to speak to topical issues that are relevant to the new work-from-home environment that we find ourselves in. We have more than 250 videos in our library, and we’re excited to add 16 new options.
Erica Salmon Byrne: We spoke with members of the BELA community to determine what topics are on their minds right now. We saw a lot of concern about topics like information security and incident reporting. We were able to combine Ethisphere’s expertise with Second City’s experience in engaging audiences to address those risk areas. We’re also very aware of the challenges that many companies face when it comes to a diverse, multi-generational workforce—how do you engage folks who are used to short-form content, who are working remotely, who are juggling multiple responsibilities? These videos can be a great tool for getting messages out in an accessible way.
Click above to watch a webinar where Erica and Bumper take a deeper dive into the Real Biz Shorts catalog.
Why is humor effective as a tool for reaching employees?
BC: We all know that humor is engaging and relatable, but its benefits actually go further. Humor helps us retain 66 percent more facts because it keeps us entertained and paying attention. People are also 3.75 times more likely to be able to solve a problem after watching a humorous video—humor helps us think more creatively about situations. It also fosters empathy, and empathetic employees are more likely to be ethical. Humor uses different parts of the brain, parts that we don’t always have an opportunity to use at work. The result is that audiences are engaged, thinking differently, and developing new approaches to problems.
What are some potential applications of Real Biz Shorts? How do you see companies using them?
ESB: As more companies start to think about training and communication as two sides of the same coin, we’re seeing a lot of different applications of these videos. Some companies use them to grab employees’ attention and direct them to longer training or a new policy or procedure, to reinforce training, or even as part of training itself. Others will use them in meetings to initiate a discussion—leaders can ask what employees thought about the situation in the video, whether they have any questions, how they have addressed similar issues. It really allows them to start a dialogue around that topic. The videos are also great resources to feature during company events like compliance week or compliance month.
BC: We really want the videos to be versatile, so that companies can use them in a way that makes sense for their organization. We also provide customizable campaign kits with posters, memes, email templates, and knowledge-check questions to help make sure the videos resonate with employees. We also provide a newsletter generator to make it easy to create a customized email with an embedded video.
What does the future hold for Real Biz Shorts?
ESB: We’re excited to learn more about how our community uses Real Biz Shorts videos and what we can do to make them more engaging and impactful. Are employees relating to some videos more than others? What new topics do we need to address? Is animation more impactful than live-action videos? These are areas that we can refine as we get feedback from BELA members and other Real Biz Shorts subscribers.
BC: In addition to the 16 videos we just launched, we will release 14 new videos by the end of the year. Ethisphere’s unique insights into compliance and ethics—along with input from those currently using Real Biz Shorts—will help us choose the topics and approaches for those videos, based on the changing work environment. We want to use our signature brand of humor to engage audiences about the topics that are most relevant right now.
- Free video: For the launch of the Ethisphere – Second City Works partnership, we are offering a free video.
- Learn more: To learn more about how Real Biz Shorts can help you engage employees, contact Jonathan Whitacre ([email protected]).