In 2017, a client approached us for a short training piece on workplace respect — with a twist.
The client was a growing tech company with a largely millennial workforce. As they explained to us at the time, “everyone knows you can’t grab your coworker in an inappropriate way or send naked pictures,” but they wanted to address some of the subtler issues that can hurt a culture.
The company was proud of the fun and energetic work environment they’d cultivated, but they were growing fast, and they wanted their culture to keep up. When employees complained to HR, it wasn’t about egregious acts of harassment or bullying. Instead, employees were overhearing inappropriate stories from a coworker’s previous night out, or seeing off-color jokes on Slack. The common reaction was: “Come on, be professional!”
The company also wanted to remind employees that workplace respect included professional behavior more broadly. Their workforce was young, and many employees were working their first full-time job. Some of these employees needed a run-down on the basics: be on time to meetings, dress professionally, don’t have inappropriate conversations at work.
So we set out to create a message around respect and professional behavior that would resonate with a largely millennial audience.
Employees at tech companies are often wary of culture changes as the company grows, so it was important to the client that we keep the message casual and light. Employees would tune out right away if the training felt too “corporate,” but we knew they responded well to humor. The company wanted to send a clear message: we can still have fun, but let’s be smart about it.
So rather than building a training video about what employees shouldn’t do at work, we instead focused it on modeling what they should do. And who better to model good behavior than a superhero?
Meet “The Professional.”