Tax Forms Are Confusing. But Are Your HR Forms Any Better?

In the U.S., April 15 looms on the calendar. It’s a date marks the annual undertaking of one of but only two certainties in life — the deadline for filing state and federal income taxes.

Tax Forms - Panopto Elearning Video PlatformHere in the states, taxes have earned a reputation as quite possibly the single most confusing process most people will attempt. There are multiple official filing forms, only a handful of which are relevant to any particular taxpayer. And even after a concerted effort by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to make the forms easier to understand, most every line on each document is still either littered with accounting jargon or now just frustratingly vague.

Worst of all, even the materials meant to help explain things only end up creating more confusion. Just look, for example, at the supporting materials for Form 1040A — itself a short, two page form — supplemented with an 84-page instructional PDF.

If someone isn’t going to be able to figure out a 1040A, what is the likelihood that an 84-page FAQ is going to help?

Fortunately for U.S. taxpayers, there’s a better way. Accounting firms, tax preparers, and a number of nonprofit organizations have worked to make it easier to understand how to complete a tax form — by tapping the power of video as a teaching tool.

A perfect example comes in this video from, explaining all of how to complete the 1040A in just under 3 minutes. The recording uses a sharp combination of PowerPoint slides to introduce the essential information up front, then adds a simple screen recording to illustrate how the form should be filled out, step by step. In minutes, the video makes it easy to understand what took 84 pages to explain in text.

Video makes teaching complex, multi-step processes simple

Are Your Organization’s HR Forms Any Easier to Complete Than Today’s Tax Returns?

It’s tempting to think that the problems of the IRS are the standard stuff of bureaucratic inefficiency — relics of the processes that modern organizations improved upon decades ago.

But don’t be so sure.

In many organizations, dozens — sometimes hundreds — of processes still rely on the same form-driven data processes that guide modern taxpaying. Federal forms like the I9 and W4 are obvious examples, as are employee benefits forms like 401k enrollment and update forms, healthcare and life insurance benefit enrollment forms, a dozens of other personnel paperwork.

Even if your organization has digitized the process for these and no longer requires actual paperwork, that doesn’t solve the problem. Digital forms are still forms — and still require that employees comprehend and complete them.

That’s a problem with a real cost associated. For most employees, filling out benefits enrollment forms correctly is a serious concern — something they (and you) absolutely do not want to get wrong. As such, most will tie up your human resources teams with question after question as they work hard to get each detail right — eating into the time HR staff has available for other projects.

Some organizations, especially those that hire regularly, try to minimize the random benefits questions that come in by making enrollment part of onboarding — but that too has a cost, requiring the organization to have a dedicated staff just for helping other employees complete a form.

HR Forms - Panopto Video Training Platform

Ensuring Forms Are Completed Correctly Is An Everyday Task in Most Organizations

Even beyond benefits enrollments, most organizations are awash in forms of some sort or another — adding people to an email list requires a form, updating laptops or mobile devices requires a form, expense accounts require a form, business travel requires a form, and that barely scratches the surface.

And those are just the simple forms — in a larger sense, many of the tools we rely on in our daily work are really just a complex web of forms. CRM tools like Salesforce, CMS tools like SharePoint, marketing automation software like Eloqua — all these are tools built around managing and executing information from a set of individual forms.

Worse still, at most organizations, there is little better than the IRS’s 84-page support manual when it comes to helping employees use any of these forms — no matter how complex or simple, no matter how essential or not it is to daily work, most organizations don’t offer any easy way for employees to learn how to correctly complete everything required.

And that’s a shame because as has shown in the example above, even federal income tax forms can be explained in less than 3 minutes with video.

Video Makes Teaching Employees How to Complete Forms Easy — And Easy to Repeat

With a quick video, your HR team — and another team that relies on forms in your organization — can walk through each and every document your employees will need to complete, and provide comprehensive step-by-step guidance, without the 84-page PDF.

By making the training materials visual, video helps make the steps easier to understand — ensuring that more employees complete your forms correctly the first time.

By recording the training for each form, your organization can make those materials available anytime, anywhere, on-demand in your secure corporate video library. You can even provide links to the videos from your documents themselves, to make sure employees can quickly access them.

And by storing those videos in your video library, you can enable employees to search and find relevant moments inside those recordings. Panopto’s Smart Search video search capability indexes every word spoken and every word shown on-screen for every video in your library (whether or not it was recorded with Panopto) — helping your team members find and instantly fast-forward to the answer for any question they may have.

Best of all, video can help you give time back to your HR team to focus on new and high-value projects, instead of answering the same FAQs over and over again. Especially for larger organizations, it’s an ROI that will speak for itself.

See How Video Can Make Your Organization’s Forms Easier

Panopto makes it easy for anyone to record, share, and search video, from a secure corporate video platform. To see how your organization can use Panopto to support and scale your employee training and learning initiatives — and make sure every one of your team members can quickly learn how to correctly complete internal forms — contact our team to schedule a demo or start your free trial today.

Published: March 31, 2017