A good screensaver should be part of a larger informative campaign. When it's well thought out, it can truly influence staff's behavior, says Urszula Radzińska and explains why in order for a screensaver to be well prepared you must think empathically.

We asked experts on internal communication about screensavers:

Agnieszka Zyśk-Pożoga, Internal Communication Manager, Provident Polska We treat screensavers as yet another tool for communicating with our employees. We try to change them more or less regularly and we make sure it's easy to find important elements on them. Most often they play the role of reminders, e.g. about the upcoming performance evaluation one should get ready for, about an important conference or company meeting. Sometimes they have a news character – we share news about some spectacular success. Screensavers are a perfect communication tool: they save energy and remind staff about important things when they e.g. come back from a coffee break. I like them so much! Katarzyna Duda, HR – Talent Management and Learning & Development, PepsiCo I believe screensavers are a very good and effective form of communicating with employees – at least in the form we use them at our company – they are preinstalled on users' computers by the IT department and they cannot change them themselves. For this reason I would recommend to use them for very important campaigns. It's crucial to decide who do we “address” with a screensaver – if it's the entire staff, the message must be adequate: the language, type of graphics etc. A screensaver cannot be too long, but at the same time must be long enough for users to be able to read it. They can be super cool in building awareness/engagement when they are eye-catching – especially during transition from one view to another. It's also good to check the requirements for the users' screens – whether it's 4:3 or 16:9 – “expanded” or “cropped” screensaver won't look aesthetically.

Are screensavers a good solution for all companies?

It all depends on what we want to achieve with them. Ironically, a company screensaver is a very intimate thing. If we can, we put there e.g. pictures of our kids, places we’ve been to or would like to see. When we come back to work after a lunch break – already relaxed and ready to work – the first thing that we see is that image on the computer screen. A screensaver is a very persuasive channel. You mustn’t overexploit it. It should constitute part of a larger informative campaign in your company.

Couldn’t it function independently, for instance like the message: “Remember: switch off the lights and turn off your computer”?

Theoretically, it can. Especially in medium size and large organizations, where there is a constant problem with high use of energy and this kind of screensaver can help lower costs, then it’s worth it. But it should rather be displayed in the second part of the day, towards the end of the work day. Such a message wouldn’t make any sense when it’s still bright and we don’t really use artificial light.

AudeUla_ (94 of 318) czarne noweYou need to get rid off all redundant content and leave only things that make sense. Screensaver should be one small portion – a cookie, not a whole cake.

 

When a client says: “I want to order a screensaver” what do you ask them first?

Usually an idea to start using screensavers comes after we see a similar solution somewhere else and we think: “I could use it, too.” But you need to consider whether what you want to put on the screen is the best idea. And here arises the first question: what kind of a screensaver should it be in the context of your group? What do you want to achieve: make your employee feel comfortable or fraught?

I’m sure every person from the communication department that we talk to is well aware of the atmosphere in the company and knows whether there is too much imperative information in the organization or not. Why is this important? Because if your screensaver sends you messages like: “You need to be 150% efficient, your result is X, try harder” and you work at a company which already has very high standards, it may turn out that the screensaver makes things worse by making people feel too tight.

Another question is: what would the client like to put in the screensaver? The biggest mistake is when you want to put there too much information, as if this one tool was supposed to save the company from all its problems. This is impossible. A screensaver must be short. You need to get rid off all redundant content and leave only things that make sense. It should be one small portion – a cookie, not a whole cake.

Do you often happen to dissuade clients from their initial screensaver concept?

Sometimes the idea is not enough. Not everything is suited for a screensaver, e.g. the new helpline phone number. If a client wants to make the screensaver a notice-board, I will be the first person to try to make them change their mind. You also don’t always need to make it an animation fountain – if people are used to animations and tired of them they will need a simpler form. And the other way around – if you have experience with simple solutions, you start looking for something that you think is more attractive (like an animation). There is also much you can do with the content and the graphic design of a screensaver: it can be a comic, formal or informal, a puzzle, news etc.

AudeUla_ (94 of 318) czarne noweThe biggest mistake is when you want to put there too much information, as if this one tool was supposed to save the company from all its problems.

 

Is it possible to systematize the types of screensavers with regard to goals?

I can point to areas where I see lots of potential. These would be all areas relating to building good habits when it comes to company data and classified information security. Or even energy saving, that you have mentioned already. A screensaver can use all messages that talk about habits and values, but thy must be subtle. Last but not least, we can use messages that simply improve our mood, especially that we love being taught through entertaining content.

How long should a screensaver campaign last?

It would be very difficult to say, there’s no benchmark for this. As I’ve mentioned, a screensaver must relate to an informative campaign (e.g. e-mail campaign) that is taking place. How long we use the screensaver depends on the duration of the campaign. If the message is independent from any campaign, like motivation messages telling employees that they’re special – it can be used on end but you can change the graphic, for instance.

The rule of thumb is that the more imperative the message is, the more careful you need to be and not let it be displayed for too long. You should find out how much you can push before people start to ignore the message or before it makes them angry.

AudeUla_ (94 of 318) czarne noweThe more imperative the message is, the more careful you need to be and not let it be displayed for too long.

 

So the major threat when using a screensaver is that it can irritate the staff?

Yes, it’s the same as with pushy online or mobile ads. Employees may not “buy” the message on the screen. Another threat is the following: if your company produces a screensaver and it doesn’t work as intended, you most probably won’t decide to use this tool again. In the future there can be a situation that could really use a screensaver, but you won’t use it because you’ll be convinced that it’s not going to work.

Meanwhile, we often can’t see what the problem was. For instance, the content could have been inadequate, or it was used in the wrong moment, or the campaign was too long. There is the right time and space for everything. If a company goes through a difficult moment of cost cutting and the screensaver invites employees to a New Year’s ball – they may not like it. You need to think empathically and consider how the message will be seen in a given moment. These are basic things, but they are the most frequent source of mistakes.

What can we gain with a screensaver?

If we use a screensaver in the right way, in the right moments, without pushing messages, we get the comfort of having yet another channel that can be used purposefully from time to time. In my opinion screensavers should be used for making the atmosphere more pleasant. We can use them to make the viewer feel better, instead of tightening the corporate loop around their neck. Only then can a screensaver change their behavior or attitude and make the employee e.g. really start switching off that light.

How do we check whether it brings results?

If we communicate something only via a screensaver, e.g. try to convince people to save energy or to drink juice, then we can easily see if the campaign was effective – it’s enough that you compare the results before and after. When a screensaver is part of a larger campaign which includes other elements as well, it’s obviously more complicated to tell which element caused the change.

That’s why it’s best to arrange the campaign so that it becomes an umbrella clipping together various messages in different channels, and then we can tell which effect was caused by the screensaver and which by, let’s say, posters. If our main goal is to have wide reach and to make the entire organization act in a certain way, then we should use all possible channels, choosing a message for the screensaver that is light, digestible and pleasant. And short!

 

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