It’s no secret that podcasts are booming. And also, employee podcasts have been one of the biggest trends in internal communications over the last few months. Why? Podcasts are easy to create, highly engaging, and build strong emotional bonds. And, like a Snickers — easy to consume. Especially big companies such as Shopify, Atlassian, or Booking.com use the potential of internal podcasting to reach the hearts and minds of their employees. But also, smaller brands like Buffer keep their remote teams feel connected with audio storytelling.

How Podcast are different from other communication formats

Podcasts can add depth and dimension to your stories, touch listeners differently, dive deeper into relevant topics, and reach employees whenever it suits them. Internal podcasting provides a unique way of communicating and building culture that written formats just can’t. Ever tried to tell a joke or amusing story via email? Chances are it fell flat. Using voice, you can spice up your conversations with humour, entertaining anecdotes, or a little soundtrack. And if you think about it: Storytelling with our voice is the original way of communicating. It existed long before other forms of communications, and our brains still work that way.

Emotional: Compared to reading, audio provides greater identification, emotional engagement, creation of mental images, and involvement which is vital for messages that stick.

Async: Unlike real-time video meetings, employees can consume audio stories while doing other things: working out, running errands, commuting, or doing the dishes at home.

Personal: There is the ability to have deeper explorations or in-depth conversations about a specific topic that holds everyone’s attention for longer.

Informal: Podcasting is an opportunity to ditch the scripts, have authentic conversations, and hear directly from the people involved, which builds trust faster.

Screen-free: Audio storytelling allows office workers to consume content without sitting in front of a screen. And audio also includes non-desk workers (they make 80% of our workforce globally).

Four ways companies use internal podcasts

Podcasts don’t necessarily need a fixed format; they are your playground. But here are four ways companies use internal podcasts to engage, inspire and inform their employees:

  1. Leadership Podcasts A widely used format in companies, big and small: Hearing directly from leaders (instead of reading an email written by the IC team). For leaders, it’s an opportunity to be accessible and personal and build empathy across departments. When done well, it feels like one-on-one time with the CEO or other members of leadership teams.

  2. Employee Podcasts Another popular way to use podcasts inside an organization? Giving employees a voice, making them part of the brand. Especially in fast-growing companies, it’s a chance to get to know teammates better and learn from each other. An internal podcast gives employees a platform to talk about their accomplishments, motivations, goals, failures, and personal stories.

  3. News Podcasts This is the most common way companies get into internal podcasting: Making announcements and news more personal, fun, and easier to digest. Another plus? It stimulates a sense of transparency and fosters a shared understanding of what’s happening in a team, function, or the whole company.

  4. Onboarding Podcasts Using podcasts to onboard new hires is still relatively new but on the rise, with remote work taking over significant parts of the working world. As onboarding is the honeymoon period of any employee experience, it’s an ideal time to put a human voice to it and enable talents to hit the floor running.

    Obviously, there will be many other formats that could work in your organisation – it also depends on the company culture. If you think about what topics you could focus on, I will leave you with the reflections from Monika Heaton whom I interviewed during my research on how organisations use internal podcasts:

“I would lean toward work-related. That can cover so many topics in itself from personal development stories, individual roles, department visions, upcoming marketing campaigns, employee resource groups, sustainability efforts, DE&I company initiatives… I believe that a battle companies are losing is employee’s connection to the company, especially as they grow. Internal comms should be an opportunity to work on that connection in ways that resonate with the employees. Non-work themes might seem fun at first but I believe will lose listeners as they start wondering why they’re listening to their colleagues discuss topics that experts are covering a lot better in their own podcasts. But if the topics are engaging and to do with internally relevant happenings, then at least they will know that they can’t get this information anywhere else. It will make the content unique.”

Monika Heaton, former Internal comms at N26 & Klarna

Are you wondering whether you should try a podcast, where to start, and how to do it? Or are you already producing an internal show but want to take it to the next level? Join our workshop on October 6, where we will explore how audio storytelling can give internal comms a new spin.