Lara Hadjetian, Head of Employee Experience Practice at Edelman, talks about the potential of podcasts to communicate with employees within the context of the moment.
As companies explore new ways to communicate with their employees, following and throughout the pandemic, how have podcasts increasingly become a new tool for internal communications?
Covid-19 has no doubt been a catalyst for change, and we’ve experienced first-hand — through ourselves and our clients — what it’s like to swiftly pivot and reimagine how we approach employee communications in order to adapt to a new normal. Remote and hybrid working realities brought on creative ways to maintain well-informed and productive workforces, and a stronger emphasis on digital mediums was crucial to this.
Internal podcasting was already on the rise before the pandemic struck, and we continue to see an increase in its use. Over the past few months, the importance of connecting with employees on a more human and accessible level has become evident. There’s something about embracing that authenticity. And this is where podcasts have gained popularity, in that they give an actual voice to information and can be consumed anywhere and at any time that works for the listener.
What are the different objectives that can be served by using podcasting internally (communications, learning and talent development, culture building efforts)?
Ultimately, it comes down to each organization and what they’re trying to achieve. At Edelman, we believe in reaching employees where they are. Channels — a podcast in this case — are one part of the equation. With any internal content, it’s equally vital to have a clear understanding of the audience and what you want them to get out of it, to be able to deliver messaging that demands attention and measure its success.
From a communications and culture perspective, podcasts provide an alternative form of leadership storytelling like videos, livestreams, and blogs to reinforce business goals and sustain forward momentum. Similarly, shaping podcasts based on what employees want to hear about, opportunities for co-creation, and giving them a voice via the channel, further inspires shared purpose. For example, if an employee wants to explore mentoring or wellbeing benefits, they can listen to stories from those who have taken advantage of those programs.
For learning and development, on-demand podcasts are leveraged for training resources which employees tap into at their own pace. We’ve seen organizations convert the format of their onboarding to audio with a series of episodes that answer the questions new employees might have. Some podcasts also have the potential to be turned external when it comes to employer branding, through the articulation of what makes a company a great place to work.
What value do they bring?
One of the strong points of audio — like video — lies in its ability to build a more personal familiarity between speakers and listeners than the written word. This in turn develops a sense of community around topics that matter to employees.
As communicators, we know that people engage with information differently. That’s why making informed decisions when generating content is a must. With the advent of analytics on most podcasting platforms, there’s a deeper level of understanding on consumption such as who’s listening to what and how often, which of course helps drive and adjust strategy.
What are some of the challenges faced when using podcasts internally? And what should organizations consider before deciding to produce one?
No two internal communications tools are the same. Channels should always be intentionally developed in alignment with company culture, and in a manner that they complement one another and serve the needs of both employers and employees.
There are a variety of factors to think through when launching internal podcasts. Outside of the resources required for recording, distribution and metrics, being clear about how a podcast differentiates itself from the rest of available mediums is the starting point for driving preference. Next, it’s time to focus on getting audio share. Key things to take into account are choosing engaging hosts, establishing a consistent schedule, keeping the podcast short enough not to lose the audience, and integrating with current or familiar technology so that employees easily and ongoingly tune in.
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