microphone and headphones
PHOTO: Jonathan Farber on Unsplash.

Employee engagement remains a challenge for many organizations. While engagement has continued to rise since Gallup began reporting the national figure in 2000, there are still on average only two engaged U.S. workers for every actively disengaged employee.

The challenge is even more acute with the rapid explosion of remote work in recent months. That’s why some companies are turning to internal podcasts to share critical information and keep employees engaged. They're finding podcasts can help unify the organization and foster a sense of community in a way an office environment normally would.

With this in mind, we’ve asked experienced podcasters why internal podcasting is becoming so popular, how these podcasts can increase employee engagement and what makes a great podcast.

The Growth of Internal Podcasts

The work-from-home movement, which may be the new norm, is pushing companies toward internal podcasts, said Rafael Sweary, co-founder and president of San Francisco, Calif.-based WalkMe. “Having an internal podcast where employees can come, hear about the company updates, hear success stories and feel generally connected to everyone else is crucial,” he said.

Unlike emails, podcast content is more likely to appeal to employees’ emotions and is a more engaging way to spread information. Podcasting is also a cheaper, faster and easier way to distribute information internally than many other distribution methods.

“For years, companies have relied on memos, binders of print-outs, emails, slide decks, global live calls, even mass voicemails from executives to disseminate information internally,” said Lindsay Tjepkema, co-founder and CEO of Indianapolis, Ind.-based Casted.

Related Article: How to Build Company Culture With Remote Teams

How Can Podcasts Engage Employees?

While podcasting is a channel for spreading critical company news, it also potentially fills another void that many work-from-home employees have: a sense of community. “Bringing together employees when everyone can’t meet, to make employees have a connection is why I think a lot of companies are turning to internal podcasts now,” Sweary said. 

Sweary’s company has three primary use cases for its internal podcast:

  1. COVID-19 updates: The global pandemic is a unique situation that is rapidly changed from minute to minute. Keeping employees informed during difficult times is crucial for showing that they’re a valuable part of the organization. “The podcast provided a place to find company updates on the near-daily changes that were happening with COVID-19,” Sweary said.
  2. Encouraging understanding: Sweary also said his company’s podcast offers “a chance to dive deeper into our company and learn about new departments and teams.” That way, employees have more well-rounded knowledge about the company and how everyone’s individual roles fit into the bigger picture.
  3. Motivate individual employees: Internal podcasts are a way to clarify business goals and motivate employees to achieve them. “We had to shift some of our business goals and projects during COVID-19 and we really thrived thanks to the hard work of our employees,” Sweary said. Giving individual employees a chance to speak about their successes on the podcast encourages others to strive for greater results as well.

Related Article: 8 Employee Engagement Ideas for a Changing Workforce

Producing a Great Podcast

Highlighting big wins within the company can help unite remote workers around the organization’s core values and foster a collaborative company culture. That’s why Sweary believes in letting the voice of individual employees be heard through active involvement in an internal podcast. 

As with any content shared internally, there needs to be a firm grasp of the purpose and audience, said Tjepkema. For example, a sales team may be interested in product-related news from a product manager but this may not be relevant for new hires or employees in back-office roles. “Taking a moment to think about the audience and what you want them to get out of the podcast is foundational to achieving engagement,” she said. “That is true of any podcast internally or externally.”

It’s also important that an internal podcast doesn’t drag on and waste everyone’s time. “Get right to the point,” said Tjepkema. “Make it quick and informative and relevant and get out.” A short podcast episode is more engaging and entertaining for employees which means they’re more likely to consume the content and derive value from it.

“The ability to deliver information in a way that is both informative and engaging and can also be consumed while doing other things is a novel possibility offered exclusively with podcasting,” Tjepkema said. That’s one reason why internal podcasts are a trend that may keep growing well into the future.