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ATD Blog

How to Improve Your Employee Development Program With Podcasting

Friday, December 11, 2020

Although it has been a uniquely challenging time for all of us around the globe, many of the challenges for employee development are nothing new. How do you stay relevant and fresh? How do you engage and motivate employees? Do our programs have meaningful outcomes or do people quickly forget what they learn or struggle to apply it? And, as we think about the changing nature of work, how will we adapt?

At Podbean, we have seen significant growth (230 percent year-over-year) in companies using podcasts internally. We’ve learned that while this may have some roots in podcasts being a “hot thing,” it is also in answer to many of the issues mentioned above. Most importantly, the companies using this medium are seeing healthy returns on their investments into podcasting.

How Can Your Program Benefit From Podcasts?

Convenience and Mobility
Podcasts can be consumed on-demand and on-the-go, making them an especially convenient medium for communications, training, leadership, and more. We’ve worked with many companies that turned to podcasts based on employee surveys. When employees prefer a particular medium, that alone is reason to investigate the option. Podcasts are easy to consume anytime and anywhere, and they are easy to create and distribute. Thus, companies can be nimble with timely updates and keeping everyone connected without added inconvenience, scheduling issues, and so on. Podcasts can be a great fit for remote teams, whether distributed around the globe or working from home.

Reduced Screen Fatigue
Audio is an intimate form of communication; podcasts can use storytelling principals and conversations to reach employees who have a variety of development goals. “Zoom fatigue” is one of 2020’s most popular search terms. We all know the feeling of strained eyes from looking at screens all day. Listening to a podcast can give our eyes a break while our brains take in knowledge.

Increased Understanding
Unfortunately, when we read text, we only decode about 7 percent of meaning. That increases to 38 percent when listening, so switching a piece of content from email or a written guide to a podcast could lead to 500 percent better understanding. Data from podcast advertising studies also indicates high retention and action resulting from what people hear in podcasts.


Better Engagement
For all these reasons and a general interest in podcasts, they can provide a boost to employee engagement.

How Can You Use Podcasts?

  • Training
  • Sales enablement
  • Onboarding
  • CEO updates or leadership fireside chats
  • Team, product, or service updates
  • Employee or customer interviews and stories
  • Role plays
  • Industry or subject matter knowledge: interviews with experts in the field (internal and external, partners, vendors, and so on), recordings of events, webinars, talks
  • Repurposing or replays of meetings, webinars, and other existing content (or taking select pieces to reinforce key learnings)
  • In almost every conceivable way, if it makes sense, and serves a purpose

Considerations for Success

1. What is the benefit to the company? What is the benefit to the employee?
2. Who needs to be involved in planning and decision making?
3. What format(s) will you use? What content?
4. Who will be handling what roles and responsibilities? How can internal strengths be used to produce the best podcast(s) most efficiently?
5. ROI measurement

What Do You Need to Create a Successful Company Podcast?

  • Equipment/Technology: This can be as simple as recording from a mobile phone, but most times you will want to invest in (or repurpose from other uses) a microphone and headphones and some basic editing software. Check out “How to Record a Podcast” to learn more.
  • Platform: A podcast hosting platform designed for businesses, like Podbean, has all the built-in capabilities you’ll need to securely and conveniently deliver podcasts to your employees.
  • Content Plan: A plan for what you want to podcast about and how you plan to meet your goals with this podcast is needed. This may be just a plan for one pilot series or an editorial calendar for your weekly podcasts for the year or the overall strategy for your employee development content.

Join me at ATD TechKnowledge to delve further into this topic.

About the Author

Shannon Martin has been working in marketing and communications for over 15 years, helping businesses communicate their messages and build community. She is Podbean’s director of communications, serving as a liaison to Podbean’s podcaster community. Shannon has extensive experience in blogging, digital marketing, writing, editing, and public relations. When she's not connected to the keyboard, Shannon's likely off exploring some new destination or taking a long walk in the company of a favorite podcast.

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