Over the last few months, employers and employees have been managing a quick transition to working from home. Communication tools like Slack and Zoom are great for collaborating, but may not be sufficient to inform, engage, and motivate teams. Now, more than ever, employees appreciate authentic and engaging leadership communication. Internal podcasts offer an asynchronous, accessible, and on-demand channel for leaders to use to cover a variety of important topics.
Powerhouses like Salesforce, Dell, and American Airlines have already embraced internal podcasts (podcasts made for employees) as a way to connect with their large workforces. Internal podcasts are also useful for small to mid-sized companies looking for a highly effective form of communication that is simple to produce. Below are many ways employers of any size can use internal podcasting to communicate with remote teams.
Employees need clarity on expectations and updates to company policies in this quickly changing environment. A short, daily audio briefing keeps employees informed and connected to leadership. Leaders should be in constant communication with their teams, even if it’s to say “I don’t know.” Short, frequent dispatches present a valuable opportunity for management to answer employee-submitted questions as well. Salesforce prioritizes this kind of constant communication with their global workforce. Of the five internal podcasts they produce, two are dedicated to daily and weekly briefings.
Show Strong, Empathetic Leadership
Meaningful, authentic communication from employers gives remote workers a sense of stability and purpose. It also shows that employers care. While a personal email or call is a great way to connect with one employee, communicating one-on-one just isn’t realistic or efficient in a time of crisis. Unlike other forms of media, including video, podcasts are uniquely intimate. Through vocalization, hosts can articulate messages with depth, context, and emotion. According to Futuri Media, NAB, and University of Florida’s joint 2019 study, podcast listeners overwhelmingly view their favorite hosts as “reliable, authentic, truthful, genuine,” and “real.” That kind of authenticity is tough to convey through all-staff emails. A podcast can open up conversations about what’s happening and encourage employees to contribute to the discussion. American Airlines understood this when they created their internal podcast, Tell Me Why. In each episode, leaders clue listeners into the “why” behind their decisions.
Meet People Where They Are
Employees have been thrown into a moment of extreme work-life imbalance and need more flexibility than ever. They’re grappling with new priorities, schedules, distractions, and demands. As this crisis continues, companies are seeking out creative internal communication and team building ideas like video check-ins, group yoga, virtual games, and more. The intention is to maintain workplace culture and community, but what if you can’t attend that virtual happy hour because your kids need care?
Employers shouldn’t expect that every team member is able to work from nine to five, let alone devote an hour to a non-essential work-adjacent task. Give your staff a break by offering easily accessible, asynchronous communication that can be consumed while doing the laundry or working out. Podcasts are portable, hands-free, and nonvisual, making them the ideal multitasking medium. In 2019, Edison Research found that 87% of podcast consumers enjoy listening to podcasts precisely because they can do other things at the same time — even work!
Engage Employees and Boost Morale
If organizations want to survive this pandemic and set themselves up to thrive beyond it, they need to implement tools that will boost engagement and morale. Low employee engagement isn’t a new concern for businesses. According to Gallup, engaged employees drive innovation and performance, but the majority of Americans are not engaged at work. Engagement is even more of a challenge with dispersed teams. A 2017 Harvard Business Review study concluded that when it comes to remote work, “a lack of close contact with people inhibits the formation of trust, connection, and mutual purpose.” Internal podcasts are a powerful way to include people in broader conversations and decisions, promote work-life balance, and bring recognition to specific employees, teams, and projects. Trader Joe’s does this well through their popular podcast, Inside Trader Joe’s, which is publicly available. The show highlights the work that goes into new products and initiatives by talking to the people responsible (at every level of the company). Employees can even continue their professional development by learning (or teaching) new skills via audio. One of Salesforce’s podcasts, Human Element, teaches staff soft skills and offers career guidance.
Think About the Long-Term
Even when we’re able to return to work, many people will continue to work from home on a regular basis. Internal podcasts may have once seemed unconventional, but are now more essential and practical than ever. As workplace norms and cultures evolve, employers are embracing podcasts as a long-term internal communications strategy.
For more information about starting a podcast, contact Anna McClain at: www.aomcclain.com
Anna McClain is a podcast producer and consultant working with organizations and individuals to communicate their stories through audio. She helps clients refine their unique voices and identities into authentic, authoritative podcasts for external and internal use.