13 March 2020
Companies are increasingly turning to podcasts to transform the usual, boring weekly objectives meeting into something a little more entertaining, and a great deal more accessible. Now, instead of turning up at 10am to get a message passed down like Chinese whispers from the executive leadership, an internal communications podcast allows staff to hear the news from the leaders themselves. This is a fantastic idea, but why stop there?
You wouldn’t want to put that podcast on iTunes of course, but you could use your new-found knowledge to create a show which would be appropriate for the masses. Last year, we created a series called Bad PR – which is obviously not about us, the connection to our reputation management practice stopping at the words ‘PR’ of course. At no point have we made it overtly commercial, as that really isn’t the point. Remember, this is for the staff; with the listener in mind, but not to generate cash flow. If that comes as part of the process, then that’s a very welcome added bonus. Having said that, avoid putting out something that’s low quality – you want this podcast to showcase the best of your brand, and a badly recorded, inaudible show will do more harm than good. You can buy decent podcast kit relatively cheaply these days, and if you keep the format simple, editing it is easy. And if you get your staff to host the show, this comes with a wealth of benefits.
For starters, your employees will feel more connected to the business. The CIPD’s UK Working Lives survey identifies seven areas that can lead to positive or negative job satisfaction, and the simple act of asking your staff to create a podcast can provide benefits in at least four of them.
Starting with voice and representation, if you allow your employees to speak to the world and share your company’s message with thousands of people globally, you’re giving them a voice that so few people have in the workplace. Not only are you showing them you trust them to represent your brand, but you’re also giving them a forum to grow by developing their communication skills – skills that can only have a positive effect on their day-to-day work.
Another area is job design and the nature of work. Finding meaning in work that you do well is the holy grail, but for many it’s an elusive goal. One major barrier to finding your work meaningful is feeling disconnected from the company’s brand, but if you’re suddenly a spokesperson for the company, intimately associated with its name, tasked with sharing your thoughts and opinions on its behalf, on its own dedicated podcast, then that emotional connection will grow.
The CIPD also lists relationships at work as a key area for promoting employee satisfaction. In a world of emails, Slack and WhatsApp, colleagues can start to feel alone in even the most cramped offices. We’re all so focused on what we’re doing that we often opt to thank someone over email, despite the fact that they’re sitting right in front of us. But if you gather a team of three or four members of staff, on a set day once a week, and stick them in a room together, they have no option but to actually talk to each other. And we all know, when you get some time away from the screen and allow people to have genuine, in-person conversation, stress fades away, greater trust and empathy develops and stronger personal connections are made.
That leads nicely onto health and wellbeing. If your employees have an hour to look forward to every Wednesday where they can switch off from their work, break away from their screens and have a bit of stress-free fun, it can only be good for mood – and a good mood leads to higher productivity! But if sitting in front of a microphone is your idea of hell, and you can’t imagine how it could be fun, you only need to give it a try – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Something to note though, it’s incredibly important that if you do this, you find something interesting to talk about. Whilst you want your employees to feel as though they’re representing your company, you don’t want the show to be boring, or an obvious sales pitch. Take ‘No Such Thing As A Fish’ for example – the panel of four are all researchers for the TV show QI, but that fact is only ever mentioned on the odd occasion, and they never labour the point. Whether this was created strictly as a tool to promote QI, I don’t know – but it’s certainly got me listening! And as this show proves, it doesn’t have to be a groundbreaking format, you don’t need to employ over-the-top production techniques to produce something great. The reason their show is successful is because of the interesting content and strong personalities, other than that, it’s just four people sitting around a bunch of microphones.