The pandemic, hybrid working and ‘quiet quitting’ frustrations all mean that employee engagement has taken a hit in recent years. In fact, whilst 86% of employees feel connected to their direct co-workers, only 14% say they feel connected to their business headquarters. More worryingly, just 3% feel connected to their C-Suite executives.*
That connection is critical to business success and profitability. We don’t need research to tell us that people who like their bosses are more productive but if we want the stats then take a look at LSE’s analysis of 339 independent studies on the topic. It clearly shows the relationship between employee satisfaction and stock market returns.
Funnily enough, organisations with higher employee satisfaction had between 2 and 4% higher returns than the industry average.**
So just how do you create and crucially DEEPEN that engagement between employees and senior leaders, particularly if most people in your organisation never even get to meet the CEO and senior leadership team?
Well, if you’ve been alive recently you can’t have failed to notice the growth of podcasts.
In the UK alone, 6 million more of us listened in during the last three years. That’s about 15 million Brits each year tuning into a podcast. Everyone’s got one, from Michelle Obama to Ru Paul Charles, even my dog sitter has one. And if you don’t know who Ru Paul Charles is, stop reading this article and go listen to his podcast IMMEDIATELY. Then come back!
Now we’re seeing the rising trend of the internal corporate podcast. We’re working with all sorts of organisations that are using the unique benefits of podcasts to better connect with their workforce, drive retention and ultimately make more money.
Here’s six ways you can use internal podcasts in your organisation to drive engagement, retention and profit:
1. Promote internal career opportunities and talent initiatives
Podcasts create connection and are convenient for employees to listen to so they are perfect platforms to share non-urgent but critical information that can combat the great resignation, for example, by highlighting the awesome career opportunities in your business.
Interviewing people in key functional areas humanises their career stories and brings career paths to life - much more engaging than the ‘flow diagrams’ that most organisations share on how you get from A to Z!
Corporate podcasts are also great ways to showcase the diversity of roles in your business and a fantastic way to showcase talent and celebrate success - motivating and inspiring others to progress so that retention increases and the costs of new hires are reduced.
Learning & Development teams can also use podcasts to share updates on their latest training initiatives in an engaging and accessible way so their visibility increases and employees buy into new initiatives from the start.
In fact, podcasts are a great way to actually deliver learning and training. Some organisations have specific courses as podcasts and some have ALL their learning as bite-sized podcast episodes - saving time and money whilst increasing that all-important engagement.
2. Reach dispersed, busy sales teams (e.g. recruitment, estate agency, car retailers)
Podcasts are so successful at creating connection because of something called ‘parasocial empathy’. Scientists have found that podcasts enhance perceived intimacy with hosts by well, err, changing our brains! I’m paraphrasing but in essence this is what’s happening.
When we factor in that most people listen to podcasts with headphones on, the effect is amplified, triggering a greater feeling of closeness according to On Amir, co-author of a study in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
That means podcasts are a brilliant way to reach skeptical people in the organisation, like hard-to-reach, dispersed sales professionals. Ideas, best practice and training can be shared in a non preaching way with top performers who may be missing the detail, or not following the company process.
There's also a chance for the sales director to explain why the company way is important and a greater chance of salespeople actually buying into this purpose and taking willing action. New starters and poorer performers can also learn how to improve, driving higher sales and profitability.
The beauty of podcasts is that time-pressured staff can also listen to podcasts whilst they’re doing something else. In fact, most of us listen to podcasts to ease the pain of unpleasant or boring tasks like doing admin and expenses or when we’re on the move, say doing the school run, driving to work or at the gym.*****
It gives people the choice to engage, when they want to and so drives productivity and engagement. You can even give sales professionals a platform as guests on the podcast to supercharge engagement. AND by getting them to share their top tips, they help the rest of the sales force, making the most of peer-to-peer learning and reducing training costs.
3. Supporting neurodiverse employees
Staff with Aspergers, autism or those with challenges like dyslexia may struggle with traditional learning methods, which typically involve reading copious amounts of text. It’s estimated that 6 million people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, it’s much more common than we think and different learning styles are often a reason why internal communications and training fail to hit the mark. The same goes for our colleagues with visual impairments. It democratises learning and gives everyone a change from the same old ways of doing things.
Podcasts are also great learning mechanisms for the creative brains and other freethinkers in the business from designers and developers to software engineers.
4. Showcasing corporate social responsibility (CSR) / environment, social and governance (ESG) initiatives
Nearly two in five employees responding to a survey by Robert Half said they’d look for a new job if their employer wasn’t doing enough on ESG issues. And ESG is particularly important for younger people, with 22% of 18-34 year-olds putting corporate values above salary.******
The immediacy of podcasts gives us a fighting chance to showcase charitable and ESG type initiatives, building the employer brand and giving employees the sense of purpose they crave from their employer nowadays.
And this is only going to grow in importance. By 2029, Gen Z and Millennials will make up 72% of the world’s workforce. As our employees of the future place greater importance on environmental and social concerns than their predecessors, organisations that can communicate their initiatives effectively, will become employers of choice.
Podcasts motivate and inspire, deepening engagement so employees can dive deeper into these initiatives. And those who want to can get even more involved, taking actions like volunteering, becoming champions to inspire others and ESG focused podcasts are also great ways to promote competitions and new initiatives, for example, inviting employees to take part in charitable trips and events.
As 30 percent of workers will look for a new job unless ESG activity is increased, according to one study******* it’s crucial that such initiatives are communicated well. As if no one knows or engages, it may as well not be happening!
5. CEO / senior leader podcast - how I have built my career, career moments, etc
A job isn’t just a job these days, most people have or want to have an emotional connection to the brand that they work for and their drive and productivity is driven by how they feel about the business and its leaders.
The humanising effect of a well-done podcast makes people feel understood by their leadership team. So a CEO or senior leader podcast is the perfect vehicle for increasing leaders’ visibility and closing the gap between the top of the organisation and its front-line workers.
The CEO can talk about how they built their career, key moments, how employees can own their career, toughest moments, how they deal with conflict and so on. Senior leaders can rotate between podcast episodes and cover the same topics or new issues.
People want a leadership team they understand and respect, that are human, who don’t speak in jargon or corporate language, who can motivate, inspire and convey empathy.
By avoiding the jargon and overly corporate language the podcast is a great way to showcase company culture, making people feel part of that culture, driving retention. I said at the start that just 3% of employees feel connected to their C-Suite executives so a podcast is a great way to close that connection gap.
6. Celebrate new initiatives or awareness days like Stress Awareness, World Diversity Day or Pride
Having a special podcast series can also help celebrate or draw attention to key initiatives such as the upcoming Pride month in June. Celebrating these awareness events using podcasting as a tool really helps employees to engage more actively with the initiative and helps to answer potentially sensitive questions that they might have in a simple and refreshing way. And we can really get to hear those personal stories of why these initiatives really matter to your leaders.
Here are some of the ideas that we created for clients to support better engagement during International Women's Day and beyond to drive retention of key female staff and create a more diverse talent pipeline:
- We interviewed a variety of women in organisations to celebrate their achievements so that newer recruits were able to be inspired by the stories and challenges other women have faced, cultivating a strong sense of community whilst creating a strong talent pipeline
- Podcasting’s mix of immediacy and intimacy means that employees better connect with career stories and by featuring women in nontraditional roles we helped organisations break the bias surrounding male-dominated functions like engineering and manufacturing - so that they can recruit more women into these roles, generate more referrals and work to ensure female talent stays in the organisation.
- We worked with organisations to create podcast series with a clear purpose and strategy so that employees felt their company was doing more than paying lip service to key issues, building trust in the employer brand and increasing employee satisfaction
- Worked with organisations' existing groups, like their women’s network, to use podcasting as a way to conveniently share initiatives and invite inspiring guest speakers so that content had a much longer shelf life, unlike a one-off webinar, which may get lost in the busyness of the working day.
Want help to create an effective awareness day podcast that can inspire, motivate and engage your employees?
Book your podcast for Pride Month in June or other awareness events...
A well-done podcast will get people listening to your message and drive that all-important engagement. Hiring broadcasting specialists to deliver your podcast alleviates the stress on already busy communications teams, without podcasting skills, so that you can quickly get your campaign sorted for International Women’s Day.
If you’d like to set up a professional podcast for Pride, we are running a special offer to set up your entire podcast for you:
You’ll get access to:
- A clear Pride podcast strategy and angle, bespoke to your organisation so that you can build greater community, trust and employee engagement
- A professional, virtual broadcast studio so that you can create a high-quality podcast that employees want to listen to, creating increased buy in, engagement and higher retention
- A professional interviewer so that the right questions are asked, the conversation builds naturally, saving busy executives time in the organisation and production of the podcast
- A complete, done for you podcast, with all production and editing included so that time is saved, meaning you can sit back and enjoy the results.
- The package includes four episodes with four guest speakers from your organisation to celebrate achievements so that newer recruits are able to be inspired by the stories and challenges other's have faced in your organisation, cultivating a strong sense of community whilst creating a strong talent pipeline
- Advice and tips on the best way to get people listening to your podcast and how to communicate its arrival so that you can maximise your investment and achieve your goals of increasing engagement and retention
- Design templates you can personalise for your organisation to advertise your podcast internally
Contact Caroline Watkin at email@example.com to talk about your podcast for Pride or other awareness event.
*******According to Marsh & McLennan Advantage