Email is easy; newsletters and intranet home page news are par-for-the-course. But communications that that drives employee engagement are truly great. This is the impetus for CEOs, communications and intranet managers that are increasingly employing intranet podcasting as a way to engage employees.
Podcasting is spreading like wildfire (Nielsen, 2018):
- 120 million Americans listened to a podcast last year
- Podcast ‘listens’ are growing by 11% per year
- 49% of listening is done at home; 22% in the car
- 80% listen to all or more of each podcast
“Intranet podcasting offers a low-cost, high-return investment.”
Intranet podcasting represents a natural progression for communicators looking to build employee engagement. Intranet podcasting, as part of a greater employee communications strategy, has many important applications:
- executive interviews
- employee townhalls
- executive speeches
- business updates
- subject matter expert Q&As
- employee profiles
Transparency and More Frequent Updates
Where in the past executives may have had to fly around the world to different offices for company roadshows, this can now be done via podcast. This opens opportunities for more frequent updates and frees up time for CEOs that are already under constant time constraints.
Intranet podcasts also provide an opportunity for storytelling, giving senior management a new way to connect with their employees, communicate strategies and offer a more personal touch than is conveyed through emails. And makes leaders more accessible, personal, and relatable.
For time-pressed employees, intranet podcasts offer an alternative media to learn important information and employee news in a way that is convenient for them. Employees can listen to an intranet podcast at work, in the car or train, or at home while making dinner.
Business efficient communications
We all have meeting fatigue and some are ditching meetings as they are seen as unproductive and inefficient (in one study, as many as 71% of senior managers didn’t think that they were useful). Podcasts offer a more efficient alternative as they can be accessed at any time and do not require meeting rooms or specific schedule availability.
Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, uses podcasts to share his personal thoughts, and interview interesting Chicagoans and city employees. The podcasts run 15-45 minutes (typically 30-40 minutes).
The American Airlines employee podcast, Tell Me Why
American Airlines is pioneering this approach through their podcasts available on iTunes and Soundcloud. The weekly employee podcast, produced by Internal Communications, are 7-10 minutes in length, and discuss broad and hot-button issues, or feature great employee or customer stories. Topics include:
- “Dream big, dream loud” (the strategic plan)
- “Gaining Alignment On Reliability” (Black History Month)
- “Make our guests feel at home” (customer service)
On average, 12000 employees listen to each podcast, entitled “Tell Me Why” (the why behind the news, decisions, and events at American Airlines). AA makes these podcasts available to anyone who wants to listen on Soundcloud.com.
Affordable and Easy Podcasting
Recording and distributing a podcast is easy for executives and intranet managers as the software is easy to understand (Garage Band and Audacity are popular solutions). Podcasting is also cost-effective as it uses existing infrastructure and technology; most intranet platform can easily accommodate audio files (MP3, .WAV) that are far smaller and faster to download than video.
ConocoPhillips, the world’s largest independent energy and power company, uses podcasting for internal communications to their 11,000 employees that is scattered across 17 different countries. ConocoPhillips produces four to six podcasts each month, and the initial cost is minimal.
“To set up our studio and equipment at headquarters cost under $5000, and additional mobile units cost $850 each; and that small investment allows us to connect our speakers with a broader audience,” says Ray Scippa, Director of Publications. “Intranet podcasting offers a low-cost, high-return investment.”
Intranet podcasting for employees at ConocoPhillips
ConocoPhillips intranet podcasts are far more popular with employees than news, and the results are impressive:
- Average podcast has 2,500 to 3,500 “listens” (20-30% of all employees)
- Written stories typically average 1,500 to 2,000 “reads” (15-20% of all employees)
- One podcast featuring an employee survivor of cancer received more than 4000 listens (26 minutes in length)
“We were amazed by the reaction and metrics,” says Scippa. “But if it’s a good enough story, people are going to listen.”
Examining the underlying employee engagement, one can safely conclude that engagement with podcasts are perhaps 10x or greater than engagement than news stories. Twice as many employees, on average, hit a podcast versus the average news story (and the average employee spends 15-20 seconds on a news story, versus 20 minutes on a podcast).
ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance even records a regular, quarterly podcast.
If there’s one lesson to learn, print is good, but podcasting can be great.
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