How Companies Can Use the Podcast Boom to Connect with Their Workforce
Gen Z and Millennial employees continue to capture the media’s attention as organizations are tasked with responding to their unique needs and preferences. For business leaders, engaging with new platforms such as digital workplaces and internal podcasts can prove your organization’s understanding of younger generations communication preferences.
The way we communicate and engage both in and out of the workplace is constantly changing. Generations reaching working age today grew up in a digital landscape of near-constant connection, and extend a similar expectation to their places of work. This means the standard quarterly updates from upper leadership that work for your older employees are likely to leave Gen Zers and Millennials thirsting for more.
With most company executives already juggling too many tasks, it’s not practical to establish regular meetings with each employee. But by leveraging newly accessible digital tools and knowledge about younger generations’ communication preferences, many employers are creating streamlined, manageable strategies to meet these evolving workplace expectations. One such strategy is creating an internal podcast to keep in regular contact with all employees.
The Rising Success of Internal Podcasts
Podcasts have taken the world by storm, providing today’s chronically overbooked society with equal parts news and entertainment in digestible chunks. Millennials and Gen Zers are particularly attuned to this new medium of knowledge sharing: A LinkedIn study found that 42 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 listen to podcasts at least once a week.
Marketers have already recognized the value of podcasts in selling products and services to young people. Why, then, can’t business leaders do the same to improve engagement and loyalty within their organization? Last year, Trader Joe’s rolled out a podcast that managed to do both.
Inside Trader Joe’s is successful in large part because it provides value to both customers and employees that goes beyond simple corporate updates. While it does include updates on company happenings and releases, it simultaneously tells a compelling story about Trader Joe’s products and values. Trader Joe’s understood that because employees generally don’t want to spend valuable free time listening to executives talk about their place of work, the podcast needed to provide utility in a unique way.
Whether you’re interested in following Trader Joe’s lead and creating a podcast that applies to your workers andconsumers or think a podcast distributed only to members of your team would suit your organization better, podcasts offer creative and engaging ways to connect with your employees. They’re a great method for efficiently providing all employees with business information and updates, and also help boost employee engagement—which leads to higher productivity, retention, and even profitability.
Weekly or monthly podcasts shouldn’t be deployed as a catch-all tactic to boost employee engagement, as they operate as a form of one-way, top-down communication. It’s also important to recognize that while podcasts can be a powerful tool, they aren’t right for every organization.
How to Determine if Internal Podcasts Are Right for Your Organization
Before launching into the development of a C-suite-led podcast series, evaluate the real value it would provide your employees. Some companies are much better suited to use digital workplace tools as an anchor for more traditional company newsrooms and leadership corners. For others, podcasts are a perfect fit for their young and tech-savvy workforce.
Follow these three pieces of advice as you consider the best methods for engaging with your team:
- Gather feedback from employees. Directly asking your workforce about their communication preferences should be your first step in determining if a podcast would be productive in fostering better company culture and engagement. Anonymous surveys can be a great way to impartially gauge sentiments toward company changes and gather more creative engagement ideas. Plus, asking for feedback sends a message to your employees that you’re open to hearing from front-line workers.
- Assess the current accessibility of leaders. If you often hear from workers that their leadership team is difficult to reach, a podcast approach has potential to make executives more accessible for every employee in the organization. But if upper management is already known for their accessibility, asking them to create podcasts could deduct from time spent interacting with workers personally and have a negative impact on engagement.
- Analyze the structure of your workplace. Podcasts are especially effective for organizations with dispersed workforces. Companies that have multiple offices or rely on remote workers can save time and energy with a podcast, which ensures they get in touch with every individual. In contrast, an office that’s accustomed to face-to-face communication from their leadership team might be turned off by a podcast and feel more disconnected from upper management.
At the end of the day, employees want a simple way to access the people, information, and processes they need to get their jobs done. Before looking into specific channels such as podcasts or videos, consider transitioning to a single digital destination built on a next-generation intranet platform where employees can go to start their day. From there, you can experiment with, and fine-tune, the channels and collaboration tactics that work well for your company culture.
Whether or not podcasts are the right fit for your organization, spend time developing a strategy to meaningfully engage with your workforce. With the number of digital natives entering the workplace and digital tools to boot, it’s critical to implement tools that line up with today’s quickly evolving digital landscape.
Mike Hicks brings 20 years of experience to Igloo Software and leads all marketing efforts, including responsibility for bringing new products and services to market. Hicks is a recognized leader in global enterprise software marketing and his career includes senior roles at integrated communications agencies and global enterprise software companies. Prior to joining Igloo, Hicks led enterprise marketing and global demand generation for the software portfolio at BlackBerry through its shift to being a software-driven company.