Second City Works recently collaborated with client partners Lennox International, GE, and others to produce the newly released Real Biz Shorts Anti-Harassment video content. As you can imagine, approaching a subject like harassment, through humor, had its challenges. Our co-creators helped Second City Works to research, write, and produce six custom videos that address difficult subjects in a respectful and entertaining way. The videos are currently available, and can help employees prevent, report, and respond to harassment in the workplace.
We recently caught up with Jessica Johnston, Ethics & Compliance Supervisor for Lennox International to learn more about the co-creation process and what it's like to enter the world of improv with Second City Works. Can creating training videos about anti-harassment actually be fun?
What attracted you to the opportunity to co-create video content with Second City Works?
Developing engaging and effective ethics & compliance content is not for the faint of heart. It takes time (this can’t be overstated), creativity, an understanding of your business, buy-in from leadership, and the right team. So when someone offers to create the content, and all you have to do is show up and provide input, you can’t turn it down. We are proud of the relationship we’ve built with Second City Works and are standing by for the next assignment!
What perceptions (if any) did you have about collaborating with Second City Works, and specifically the use of improv to discuss sensitive topic areas, like anti-harassment?
Unlike anti-bribery/anti-corruption, expense reporting, antitrust, and other topics, harassment is relevant to every single employee worldwide. It’s important that we address it and do it right.
If anyone can mix comedy with a sensitive subject matter like sexual harassment, it’s Second City Works. We think their expertise in improv lends itself perfectly to ethics & compliance training because they know people. Their humor is not mean-spirited or meant to make fun of people; they approach it with respect, caring, and humility which is how we approach our program.
What was the challenge your company wanted to overcome by tapping into Real Biz Shorts from The Second City?
We don’t want ethics & compliance to be something employees think about once a year during code of conduct training. We want to embed it in their day-to-day. One way we do that is through Real Biz Shorts. Since 2014, we have rolled out more than 35 Real Biz Shorts; they are a BIG part of our awareness strategy. We currently use the Ethics & Compliance and Diversity & Inclusion libraries and look forward to rolling out the new anti-harassment and bystander intervention videos!
Why choose the Second City Works creative process (which included Improv Lab, an interactive ideation session) over a more traditional approach to develop content?
I am not sure how we got to a place where, in order to consider something “training”, it had to be long, boring, and legal-sounding but am happy to see that the tides are changing. Though we will continue to use traditional training to meet our obligations in California and other locations, we are always looking for opportunities to think outside the box when it comes to employee engagement, and Second City Works is helping us do that.
We have recently increased our use of Real Biz Shorts. We acquired the Diversity & Inclusion library and also gained the ability to track click rates on the Real Biz Shorts we roll out. We were surprised to find that more employees view our videos through our intranet site than through the email we send. That’s invaluable insight.
The last 12 months has been a really interesting time for our program. We not only participated in the Improv Lab, but we also worked on our first fully custom code of conduct course. It seems like a natural progression as our program matures. The two processes were very different and ultimately serve different purposes.
What made this collaboration process unique? Successful?
It’s pretty rare to feel cool when you’re in ethics & compliance, but that’s exactly how I felt walking into The Second City Training Center. It was such a departure from my normal day. The improv process was fascinating. The actors, producers, writers, and other staff members were open and friendly and curious and created an environment where everyone’s ideas were valued. We aim to make our work-environment that way. After attending the workshop and learning about the “Yes, and…” philosophy, I realized, I was more of a “Yeah, but…” kind of person. It’s a hard adjustment, but I am working on it.
Unlike, traditional training Second City Works uses improv and a Yes, And mindset to ideate and create content in a collaborative, entertaining, and engaging way. Performers use improv to identify relevant anti-harassment scenarios, gauge humor guidelines, and gather insights about workplace harassment. As one can imagine, anti-harassment is extremely delicate and sensitive topic area, so partnering with clients as co-creators ensures that the content is relevant, accurate, and resonates with viewers. Second City Works’ client partners are instrumental to the process because they provide research, expertise, and integral feedback throughout creative development.
Real Biz Shorts is an excellent illustration of how improv and humor can be leveraged for learning & development training. Real Biz Shorts’ original content provides clear messaging and engages directly with your company’s workforce.
Is your company looking for innovative ways to keep training top of mind? Real Biz Shorts is for you!