[Skip to Content]

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2019, Click to Enter The 2020 Stevie Awards for Great Employers

Company: American Systems, Chantilly, VA USA

Nomination Category: Achievement in Workforce Development and Learning


Nomination Title: Training Videos: Made for Employee-Owners, by Employee-Owners

Achievement Essay

AMERICAN SYSTEMS is an employee-owned government contractor comprised of 1,400 employee-owners worldwide. We support U.S. National Priority Programs through our Strategic Solutions in the areas of Enterprise IT, Acquisition & Lifecycle Support, Engineering & Analysis, Test & Evaluation, and Training.

Our submission recognizes the outstanding work of our staff whose creative approach has transformed our delivery of ethics training from an administrative activity to a fun and engaging event that promotes ethical behavior and strengthens our sense of community.

AMERICAN SYSTEMS has always had a strong, ethics-based culture. We maintain and support this culture, by requiring that our employees participate in quarterly ethics training. To effectively train our workforce that is spread across many work locations throughout the US and beyond, we elected to employ on-line vignettes. These vignettes are delivered through an e-learning platform that tracks completion and compliance for each employee-owner. Each vignette consists of three parts: a video, a knowledge check, and a moral-of-the-story video to close out the training. The topics covered in these vignettes include real-world ethical situations that our employees may face in perform their jobs. These include situations such as:

-How to handle paying for lunches with a government customer
-What to do if one observes unethical behavior
-How to determine if it is okay to accept a gift from a vendor
-What to do if one observes suspicious activity regarding sensitive information in the workplace

For several years, these vignettes were outsourced to a vendor that provided generic content for mass consumption. Viewing these vignettes was widely seen as a chore that was often avoided for as long as possible. The vignettes were not taken seriously and were rarely remembered. The Human Resources (HR) Department had to spend considerable cycles following up with employee-owners and their managers to ensure the vignettes were viewed by the given deadlines.

In late 2017, we decided it was time for a change and realized that we could improve employee engagement by creating our own vignettes with the tagline, “Made for employee-owners, by employee-owners.” We began crafting our own scripts using topics that were more specific to AMERICAN SYSTEMS’ needs. We developed scripts in the spirit of well-known movies and TV shows as an entertaining hook to capture attention from the moment the vignettes begin, and recruited our employee-owners from different offices to participate as actors and production staff.

In the fourth quarter of that year, we released our first locally produced vignette. The results were immediate and exceeded our expectations in areas such as timely viewing, effectiveness of training, and positive feedback.

Because of our approach that blends pop-culture production with employee casting, our staff now look forward to the release of the new vignettes. In fact it is fair to say there is a “buzz” with the release of each new video. Employees enjoy seeing their fellow employee-owners performing in the vignettes, pay far greater attention to the content, and retain the information that is covered for longer than ever before. Additionally, staff now relate more strongly to the ethical messages as they see the ramifications of decision making playing out upon their peers. There is tremendous comradery among the employee-owners who are involved in the filming—from the actors, to our production team.

The vignettes are becoming so popular that we are planning to start an annual employee video “AMMYS” award, an EMMY-style award for those acting in the vignettes.

Please view examples of our videos available below. These include "The Matrix", "Law & Order" and "Alfred Hitchcock" vignettes. (Because these are strictly for internal use and not distributed, there are no copyright issues.)

We are proud of our 41% improvement for speed and compliance!

Achievement Summary


Vendor Purchased Views

In-House Production View


% Completed Week 1



3.5 times better

(41% higher)

% remaining to Complete week 8



2.5 times better
10% higher

% completed end of 12 weeks




·Compliance:More people watch the videos on their own and managers now spend less time “chasing people” to ensure completion.

·Engagement: Employees actively discuss video releases with co-workers and managers as well as look forward to the next quarter’s video.

·Effectiveness: We have more “engaged viewers” resulting in more effective delivery of important ethics messages. Many watch the videos more than once (employee population of 1400 with 1700 views of videos).

·Visibility:Each video has a Q&A Section, so we can now measure the effectiveness of the training companywide.

·Culture:Together these foster our ethical culture!

Webpage Links: