Case study: Navigating harassment in the workplace through avatars and animation

As part of a larger project aimed at addressing harassment in the workplace, Brand Avatar undertook the task of creating an induction video for Steinmüller Africa. This video aims to educate employees about different types of harassment and depicts a series of sequences that illustrate potential harassment scenarios.

Harassment is a sensitive and uncomfortable topic that demands careful handling. So, Steinmüller Africa would have traditionally engaged an industrial theatre company to perform the scenarios live.

But recognising the sensitivity of the subject matter, Steinmüller Africa sought an alternative approach to address the issue in a more approachable and friendly manner. As a result, they opted for animation rather than using actual people to act out these distressing situations.

Brand Avatar’s founder and creative director, Steven Hall, agrees with this approach and said: “Because we’re dealing with a very sensitive topic here, using our avatars was definitely a great way to tackle this challenging topic effectively – and to make it easier for people to digest the content”.

Here’s what the video entails:

The video starts with examples of physical harassment and highlights different types of physical intimidation. By using avatars and animation, the importance of respecting personal boundaries can be conveyed without possibly upsetting viewers.

It then goes on to address the sensitive subject of sexual harassment and employs the brilliance of avatars to strike a balance whilst delivering a strong message that doesn’t compromise viewer sensibilities.

The video also illustrates instances of psychological harassment, which can similarly be described as verbal abuse or bullying, and emphasises how crucial it is to create a supportive and inclusive workplace.

Lastly, the video sheds light on online harassment and the value of responsible online behaviour to maintain a professional and respectful work environment.

Transforming workplace training

Throughout the video, the avatars effectively convey the gravity of the subject matter while simultaneously creating a buffer that allows viewers to process the information in a less confronting manner. Steinmüller Africa received a positive response from their employees – in fact, Leon Botha, their Talent and OD manager, indicated that “the avatar animation for our harassment policy video has served to make a sensitive and complex issue more approachable, inclusive, and engaging – and the final product truly exceeded our expectations”.

This case study demonstrates how innovative approaches to education and awareness can be instrumental in addressing engagement with complex issues in the workplace.

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