Key Tips for Creating an Engaging Onboarding Video

Phil Henken
Phil Henken
Updated June 26 2022
virtual onboarding
Phil Henken
Phil Henken
Updated June 26 2022

Employee onboarding videos can be a great way for you to integrate new people into your team and familiarize them with the company culture! If you want to leverage the power of video to get new hires up to speed, this article has several tips to get you on the right track.



What is an employee onboarding video?

If you’re shaky on the core concept, an employee onboarding video (which is sometimes also referred to as an orientation video) is video content that’s created to engage and acclimate new hires into a company or organization. Onboarding videos are generally sent during an employee’s first week or posted on a platform or server. You can also choose to take a more technical or informal tone with the video, or even use multiple videos to cover different aspects of the work experience. We’ll discuss different ways to use onboarding videos in the next section.



The role of engaging video for the employee’s onboarding process

Virtually anyone can tell you videos are more engaging than reading through blocks of text. And it is this engagement that will be key to an onboarding process. Inspiring boredom from the outset will be a hindrance to your employees’ ability to absorb the information you want them to start off with. Some studies have indicated that viewers can retain up to 95 percent of a message they watch, compared to about a 10 percent retention rate based on material they read.


As most businesses and organizations are aware, the information that’s given to employees during onboarding is critical. However, it can only help them if they take it away from the onboarding presentations and use it. So it is in part the responsibility of the employer to offer material that doesn’t invite an employee to check out! If information is delivered effectively, employees are more likely to remember what they were presented and overall have a more helpful onboarding experience.


When is it time to switch to onboarding training videos?


Examples of successful onboarding videos

What does an engaging and effective onboarding video look like? To inform and inspire you we’ll also provide some examples of what we feel to be standout videos!


In no particular order:


  • Zendesk – “This is Zendesk”
    Zendesk, the customer service software platform, opted for a simple, straightforward route to demonstrate culture and persona. The video walks through different photos and clips that introduce the teams, show what to expect at the company’s headquarters, and finally discuss core company values. They also use the video to attract new candidates, proving that the same qualities that make a video stand out for successful onboarding can also attract competent candidates for new roles. Even in instances of attracting or onboarding remote workers, a video that takes the opportunity to establish an emotional connection can make new hires and prospects feel like a part (or potential part) of the team.



  • Canva Culture -“Work Smarter, Not Harder”

Canva is a company whose focus is creative software. They deliver an outstanding onboarding video with an energetic approach that demonstrates that modern corporate offices can also be fun. Over a very short (less than 3 minutes) run time the video focuses on the values of the company and establishes a friendly environment, interviews staff members from all levels, and still manages to introduce all of their main product features. Mainly aiming for a Millennial/youthful workforce, the video appeals to a sense of fun and features a skateboarding employee, colorful images, and great music, leaving a strong impression that young “creative geniuses” looking to work in software can find a home here.



  • Google – “An Intern’s First Week”

Google is a company that needs virtually no introduction. While landing a job at any level with Google is a high pedigree of employment, it’s also bound to be a demanding experience. In this video for their internship program, geared obviously towards hires with a relatively low level of experience (i.e. interns and trainees), they go out of their way to create a warm and welcoming theme and tone. The video follows several summer interns with different backgrounds who share their individual experiences, stories about their first days, and anecdotes about projects they worked on. Google is well known for having a great company culture, but an onboarding video like this also goes the extra mile to calm the potentially frayed nerves of brand-new workers who aren’t sure yet what to expect from their job.



  • Atlassian – “The Strength of Teamwork”

Software development company Atlassian met the challenge of Covid lockdowns by “going with the flow” and allowing any employee to work from home. This excellent video demonstrates their unique culture and mission and proves that you can create a warm, family-style workplace environment even with a remote workforce. Atlassian displays its mission and culture of teamwork by featuring strong team images and frames the company in a warm and family-like atmosphere.




How to create the best onboarding video, step by step

In our opinion, a few steps can be followed to produce the best results. We’ll lay them out here for your reference. You might decide you want to experiment with some aspects to find your voice and tone, but we feel that broadly this structure will provide the best results.


  • Write a quality script

Make sure you narrow it down to the most crucial job training information you want to convey and try to walk through step by step. Remember you want your new staff member to feel informed not overwhelmed.


  • Optimize Your Production Setup, and Media

If at all possible you want to make sure you have your own shooting and lighting gear (including an HD camera and a microphone) and one or more staff who are experienced with using it. If you have a well-lit set or location and a competent crew, you’ll be able to quickly shoot your video and limit retakes.


Furthermore, use the best quality media you can. Even if the video will eventually be compressed to standard resolution and get posted on the internet if you start in HD (or higher!) the difference will still be obvious. Additionally, make sure you have the right design elements, high-quality images of branding (logos, etc.), and high-quality still images to further enhance the content.


  • Include Subtitles

Subtitles are important both for accessibility and as a convenience for everyday viewers–you never know when someone might want to watch your video and sometimes playing the sound is inconvenient. There are apps available to automatically add subtitles, and if you can get creative, it’s sometimes possible to alter your subtitle styles to reflect the brand personality.


  • Add Music

What’s a video with no music? Keep your music on theme, try not to apply it too overwhelmingly, and remember that the music is meant to enhance the video and information presented, not distract viewers.


  • Editing and Graphics

This is the next-to-last step in “entertainment industry” content and it should be at the end of your workflow as well. Create smooth transitions, add motion graphics and branding, and try to make it a professional-looking package. You might use editing software at this stage, or if you have a good quality video platform, they frequently include editing and graphics functionality.


Taking advantage of onboarding training videos


Define the goal of the video

Understanding your goal is key to delivering a better video. As mentioned earlier, onboarding videos can have different goals, such as


  • Welcoming new employees (in shorthand, a “Welcome to the Company” video)
  • Communicating expectations for starting workers (a “Goals for New Hires” video).
  • Passing on institutional knowledge and company/organizational culture values (sometimes called a “Knowledge Transfer” video)
  • Demonstrating employees’ technological hardware, processes, or workflows (a“Tech Setup” video)
  • Explaining and/or demonstrating common job skills or tasks (broadly considered a“Training Video”)
  • Conveying vital employee information regarding policies, benefits, or other details (a “Company Policies” video).


An employee onboarding video could cover all of these areas, or just one. Additionally, a company might choose to create multiple videos to cover aspects of the onboarding process. A suite of well-produced videos could also cover all objectives. But it’s important to decide beforehand what content and purpose your video will serve, so you can narrow your focus.


Types of onboarding video depend on purpose

When determining how to produce your onboarding video content, keep in mind the broad types of video outlined above. Here are some notes about how the content might be tackled depending on the purpose of your video.


Welcome to the company video: Typically a warm welcome to new employees from an authoritative figure such as an executive or manager. This kind of video allows a company to communicate its mission and purpose. When considering content like this, a format where a speaker addresses the camera (hopefully feeling comfortable doing so!) might be ideal. Try not to overload a welcome message with excessive detail although company branding, images of the company, workplace, and employees, and some lightly-applied music and graphics can enhance the experience.


Goals for new hires video: An onboarding video like this can get directly to the point and be goals-focused. Less “talking heads” and more graphics including bullet points, roadmaps of objectives and timeframes, and/or Powerpoint-style presentations are appropriate, although some music or standout corporate branding can go a long way to keeping viewers focused.


Knowledge transfer video: This is another people-focused topic so testimonials and directly addressing your audience are appropriate here. Something to bear in mind is to the extent it’s not done in a “Welcome” video, is that this type of onboarding video can also be a resource for introducing company culture and a more direct look at the day-to-day workplace.


Tech setup video: The value of technical videos is to try to keep them short and direct to the point so that viewers get a high-level overview of technologies they will use frequently and concise instructions on how to do things. Music and graphics keep the action moving and illustrate crucial points. An onboarding video such as this could also benefit from some quasi-interactive quizzes or sections dealing with frequently asked questions.


Skill training videos: By necessity, training videos might need to be longer or more detailed than other types of onboarding videos. The most important thing is that the necessary information is provided to your employees. However, you can raise viewer engagement by clearly communicating ideas visually and creating a concisely written script, using charismatic and articulate speakers or trainers, and potentially including some graphical illustrations of the subject. When creating training content, always try to include concrete examples of the skill or process in action!


Company policies videos: These videos will need to cover the “usual HR stuff”, however, keep in mind that pacing is important in an onboarding video about company policies, as details and technicalities can easily become tedious to some viewers. Also keep in mind these kinds of videos can be supplemented by, or a supplement to, face-to-face video meetings or in-person meetings.

Virtual Onboarding


Tips for creating an engaging onboarding video

We’ve covered some of this ground already on our onboarding video journey, but here is a condensed run-down:


Keep it engaging and interesting! Even if the content you need to cover is dry, engaging the viewer will make it more enjoyable. Inject a little humor, or show some personality, and include existing staff when possible. People respond to real people.


Keep it short! This connects to the previous tip–stick to one topic, respect your employees’ time and attention span by getting to the point, and break videos up into “bite-sized” chunks if necessary, around 5-10 minutes.


Start at the beginning! Who is your company? What do you do? Who are your audience and/or customers? Give employees a foundation before getting into specifics of job functions.


Make it inspiring! Building emotional connections and investment will make people want to contribute. Instill pride and show employees the impact they make.


Create learning opportunities! Employee learning shouldn’t stop at the end of onboarding so be sure to highlight additional resources, advanced training programs, and other “next steps.”



What are the benefits of using video for onboarding?

If you’ve been paying attention to what we’ve covered so far, you’re starting to realize videos are helpful in several ways:

  • Video boosts understanding and retention of content.
  • Video provides a unique, inside look at your culture.
  • Video can easily be repurposed to “evergreen” content.



Having the best onboarding experience is not about communicating HR policies or illustrating day-to-day job activities. Rather, you are aiding new employees by giving them the tools to succeed, motivating and inspiring them, and creating a strong connection to the new company and their team.

Creating onboarding videos featuring a variety of orientation, training, and culture content will increase employee engagement and provide opportunities for them to learn and improve in the future.

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