Engaging Employees With Internal Podcasts

Podcasting for an internal audience? If you're not a podcast listener yourself, you might be thinking, "what, what? why would we do that?" If you are a fan of podcasts, you may only think of them as a source of entertainment. But today's forward-thinking employers know that in order to engage employees, you've got to entertain them. The companies we work with look for innovative ways to connect with employees where they already are. Today, podcasts have grown up - the platform itself has been widely accepted for over two decades - and are today more popular than ever before. That's why you may want to take another look at hosting an internal podcast.

Your employees may be far more comfortable getting information in an audio format than you know. Listening while driving, exercising, even doing work around the house has become more and more commonplace. With the workforce continuing to be remote, podcasts are a natural choice to engage, entertain, and inform team members in a personal and intimate way that no other medium can. Ready to learn more? With Projections' own ProjectHR podcast more than a year into production, we've got everything you need to know to understand the platform, develop great content, overcome tech barriers and stay consistent.

What is an Internal Podcast?

This is a simple question to answer. An internal podcast is shared on the business's intranet or delivered to employees via a private link. Employee podcasts offer a great way for your company to connect with employees. Content can include business updates from executives and interviews with outstanding employees who have innovated in the workplace, and great customer success stories. Any event or person that's a point of pride for the company is a great source for content. Got a new benefits rollout coming? Interview your Benefits Coordinator. New safety program? Interview those on the committee. Now that you know what an internal podcast is, let's take a moment to understand why you might want to have one.

The Case for Podcasting in the Workplace

One of the most important qualities of effective communication is communicating with people in a way they appreciate and pay attention to. A recent consumer survey found that more than one-third of the 104 million Americans aged 12 and over consume podcasts regularly. Monthly podcast listening is at 37 percent. Seventy-five percent of Americans over 12 years old are familiar with podcasting. "Audio," said Tom Webster, SVP of Edison Research, "is becoming a bigger part of everyday lives." In fact, the new Clubhouse app is based entirely on listening in to audio rooms.

LinkedIn's research confirmed that younger generations in particular embrace podcasts. Forty-two percent of people under the age of 35 listen to podcasts. Roughly a third of those over 35 are also listening in regularly. Statista found that 75 percent of the population is aware of podcasting. 

If at least a third of the U.S. population is listening to podcasts, your employees want podcasts. Podcasts are on the same path as social media. Social media was first used in personal lives to connect with friends and family. Eventually, businesses took note and realized the value of using enterprise social media to connect the workforce members and external social media as a brand building and recruitment tool. Today, podcasting is offering you the same opportunity. 

Podcasts For HR Professionals

If you're not among those already listening to podcasts, dive in! Our industry has a wide variety of shows offering up advice, resources and more.  The ProjectHR podcast delivers insights on a wide range of topics, from building high-performance teams to differential training and the future of work, to name a few. A podcast dedicated to building better workplaces, each episode of ProjectHR delivers expert advice from a different business professional. 

DriveThruHr delivers 30-minute shows that include discussions on topics like HR technology, recruiting, and organizational culture. HR Happy Hour also focuses on management, human resources, workforce technology, and leadership.


Podcasts For Internal Audiences

There are plenty of examples of internal podcasts in use already. For example, American Airlines publishes the internal podcast Tell Me Why, hosted by the company's Vice President of Global Communications. Interestingly, the podcasts are available publicly and cover topics like why certain decisions were made or the company's approach to various things. 

TD Bank has an internal podcast called The Power of WOW. The podcasts are narrative-style and avoid the typical corporate talk. Instead, they focus on employees telling their stories and expressing emotions. The bank not only wanted to engage employees. It wanted to help employees better understand customers and realize the impact of their experiences to deliver better customer service. 

Most employee communication and engagement platforms include blogs, videos, webinars, email, and internal social media posting. Internal employee podcasts offer an alternative that reflects changing consumer trends. They communicate with people in the way they want to be communicated with, they're easily accessible (think about putting a link to your latest episode into a QR code and printing that on table tents in employee common areas), and they can be absorbed on the go. Employees appreciate the fact that internal podcasts are respectful of their work-life balance by allowing them to listen any time, anywhere.

Plenty of Reasons to Use Internal Podcasts

Internal podcasts are excellent employee engagement tools because of their flexibility and adaptability. Following are some of the reasons they are so effective.

  • They are highly inclusive, reaching remote workers as well as people on site
  • Companies are becoming more and more diverse geographically
  • Adds authenticity in employee communication because hearing company leaders talk is more powerful than an email
  • They contribute to an authentic work culture because employees are better able to align their personal values with organizational values by listening to leadership and peers talk about topics of mutual interest
  • Employees can listen to the podcast whenever it fits their schedule, whether at work, on the treadmill at the gym, driving home, or at home
  • Podcasts appeal to multiple generations of workers but especially the digital groups, like millennials and Gen Z
  • Personalizes the message, which makes it more engaging
  • It makes your executives and senior leaders more "human" and less isolated at the top
  • Delivers metrics that help you identify if your messages are being heard, i.e., number of people who listened, where people listened, etc.
  • Delivers metrics that inform leadership as to which messages are most valuable, i.e., podcasts played most often, played more than once by employees, etc.
  • It gives employees direction as to what the company cares most about
  • Enables storytelling
  • Less time-consuming to develop than videos

Types of Messaging in Internal Podcasts

Internal podcasts are used to deliver various messages, information, and instructions. The following is just a sample.

  • Provide insights from leaders at all levels of the organization
  • Reinforce and explain Human Resources policies
  • Address diversity and inclusion as core values
  • Reinforce the positive corporate culture
  • Deliver skills training
  • Deliver feedback to employees on current issues, challenges, and events 
  • Interview staff members who share their project work, creative ideas, innovations, and successes
  • Post meeting discussions so anyone can listen
  • Assist with onboarding of new hires by helping them understand the workplace norms and values, and organizational culture
  • Share information about the brand and how employees impact the brand's reputation
  • Discuss the reasons the company should stay union-free 
  • Inform employees about deadlines
  • Promote events
  • Share positive, inspiring morale-building messages

Internal Podcasting Guidelines

Experience has taught us that there are some great tips to follow that can make your internal podcast more effective for employee engagement. Each company must decide what works best for their workplace and culture.

  • Make sure the podcasts are high quality by using good production equipment
  • Don't fall into the trap of letting the internal podcasts get boring; keep them entertaining
  • Include information that employees will value, i.e., practical advice that makes work flow better or offers insights into what management is thinking and planning
  • Encourage managers to share personal stories because that helps employees view executives and managers as people rather than bosses and gives insight into management behaviors
  • Include lighthearted topics in the podcast mix because a constant flow of serious messaging will get tiresome
  • Integrate your podcast with a comprehensive employee communication plan that includes videos, social media, etc. 
  • Include in-house and remote employees in podcasts, so they have a voice and take ownership (this can also add a sincere personal element)
  • Keep episodes of your internal podcast brief - make sure employees can listen to them in one sitting 
  • BONUS: Reward your listeners! In each episode, offer up something of value, just for those that listen in. Raffle off lunch with the Company President, tell them to come to HR for a branded premium item... there's no shortage of inexpensive ways to incentivize listenership!

Still not convinced? A great way to determine if your workforce is interested in podcasts is to ask them! Do a quick online survey about how they'd like to hear from their company. 

Getting Started with Your Own Internal Podcast

Where to start? Think of podcast development along the same lines as building a business case. The mission is to engage employees, but you still need to identify the particular audience and how the podcasts will fit within the brand's culture. Organizational culture is quite different from business to business, and your podcasts must support the culture. 

  • The first step is identifying the bottom-line reason you want to start a podcast. What purpose will the podcast serve? The answer drives the content. 
  • Who is the audience? It could be a department, function, or entire organization that includes remote and onsite employees.
  • What specific goals do you want to achieve? How will you achieve goals through podcast content?
  • What will you use as a hosting platform?
  • Will you use password protection for access or an email invite?
  • What strategies will you use for content delivery, i.e., scripted stores, interviews, co-host exchanges, informational podcasts, etc.?
  • How will you find new content and different participants?
  • Where will you create the podcasts?
  • How often do you want to publish a podcast, i.e., weekly, bi-weekly monthly? It's wise to create a publishing schedule to keep the podcasts flowing. 
  • Who will set up and manage the equipment, software, and creation process?

All content should be internally driven, but you can outsource the actual recording, editing, and publication of your podcast. Some companies work with employers on podcast development and delivery as part of the employee engagement strategy. Supporting CastMessy.FMCastos are examples of podcast delivery platforms. 

Creating Powerful, Engaging Communication Tools

Projections  offers companies assistance in developing effective internal podcasts to connect with and engage employees. When leveraged with leadership training on effective communication, the podcasts become doubly powerful tools. Internal podcasts support your position in the marketplace as an employer of choice and can help improve retention rates. Your internal podcast can play a significant role in enhancing your employer brand, helping you recruit and hire the best new talent. 

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