DDB uses minute-long videos to train millennial employees

Shrinking margins at ad agencies has translated into fewer swanky lunches and lower pay — but it has also had a crippling effect on employee training.

A couple of months ago, DDB began testing a new method. Working with online learning startup Grovo, the agency offered access to 6,000 “micro-learning” videos — each under a minute. They covered personal topics like stress management as well as management skills. A few are training videos sent to new employees. The agency recently explained, for example, talent planning processes and IT policy changes also via video.

“We just don’t have the luxury of the money we used to have,” said DDB Worldwide chief talent officer Sally Ali. “But we still want to put people first and make sure their careers are developing.”

Not having money meant that a few years ago, a lot of training went online, with webinars and decks. But engagement was low. Today, the new videos are a far cry from the online systems it had been using previously, covering such topics as “search engine optimization 101” in PowerPoints with voiceovers, often with Ali’s own voice. “Sometimes we even did it using an iPhone recorder,” said Ali.

About 55 percent of DDB’s workforce is made up of millennials, who, while ambitious, tend to have lower tolerance for corporate messaging. “They want to see that we care about their career growth,” said Ali. Otherwise, they’ll jump ship — and attrition is a huge issue at agencies.

Veronica Tucker, global talent development manager at DDB Worldwide said that before, about 2 percent of people were engaging with the training content. Today, that number has shot up to 15 percent. About 10,000 people worldwide get access to the videos. And at any time, there are over 2,000 active users on the platform, watching videos. And each week, she sends an email blast with a few select videos that gets more than 2,500 views within the day.

Next, DDB plans to focus on creating more of its own personalized content. Agency offices across the world will be charged with getting managers to create videos where they see fit or as the need arises.

Jeff Fernandez, CEO at Grovo, said each video comes with a quick multiple-choice assessment. The assessments are mandatory — they let users analyze and process the material but also act as a check so HR and managers know where there are gaps in understanding.

The video method is one many brands are also trying: recently, Dunkin’ Brands spurned decks and PDFs in favor of short, two-minute video messages to franchisees. The company found that more people were willing to watch videos in lieu of clicking through emails and reading memos.

“The population at our agencies is changing,” said Ali. “What we’re asking is, ‘do we need to teach millennials the basics of digital?’ Probably not. But if we don’t teach them about career growth and trajectory, we lose them. Our culture has to be focused on retaining talent.”

Homepage Image via Grovo

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