Last updated 4th of May 2018
Author Lisa Hartwell
Developing Podcasts for Non-Desk Employees
Research consistently shows that there is significantly lower engagement with non-desk workers within businesses and organisations. This “title” encompasses a wide range of employees from engineers to nurses, independent contractors to field sales, retail and hospitality staff to warehouse operatives. Often, these are frontline workers who have more contact with your customers than most and should be ambassadors for your brand, yet 58% only “hear from corporate a few times a year or ‘hardly ever’” (The Tribe*).
In 5 Benefits of Using Podcasts for Internal Communications, we looked at the value of podcasts especially for communicating and engaging with remote workers, and those benefits are just as relevant to your non-desk workers too.
Obstacles to Communicating with Non-Desk Employees
In general, non-desk employees have limited or no access to a computer and the organisation’s intranet, they cannot easily access company information while on the move, they may not even have a company mobile device or email. They find it difficult to stay in the loop with company news or to feel connected with the rest of the organisation. They often work shifts or at a distance.
Podcasts are an ideal channel for communicating with these employees. They can listen in their own time and feel informed and connected with what’s happening within the organisation. But, before you dive in, you need to give some thought to these questions:
Who are you creating the podcast for?
This will determine tone, content and even the presenter/speakers on the podcast
What do you want to achieve?
Is this a regular internal news round-up to make employees feel they are being kept up-to-date, a leadership podcast to cover higher level topics (such as financial reports, organisational changes) or do you want to stick to topics that directly affect these workers (such as health & safety, policy changes, employee benefits, wellness programmes)?
How will it be delivered?
The more options you give non-desk workers the better (see the point below on making it easy to access). Some possible options are telephone, internet (streaming or download), and smartphone or tablet app.
5 Key Elements to Developing Podcasts for Non-Desk Employees
Keep it on-topic
Many years ago, when I worked in radio, I had a programme controller who would constantly say “one thought, one link.” This meant that when the microphone went up, I needed to have one thing in mind to communicate and stick to that one thing – not ramble off at a tangent on other subjects.
Podcasts for non-desk employees should be the same. Decide the focus of the podcast and stick to that topic.
Keep it brief
You may feel that this is the same as keeping it on-topic, and it’s certainly linked. However, give someone a topic they know a lot about and they could probably talk about it for hours…and believe everything they are saying is totally relevant to the topic.
The aim of a podcast is not to verbalise a manual but to give an overview. In most cases, employees simply want to know “how does this affect me and my work?” So, don’t ramble about inconsequential elements. If the employee wants to know more, they can reach out to their line manager or you can offer them another route for more information.
Podcast Structure Example:
Let’s say you wanted to share information on a new health and safety policy. Your podcasts would cover these main points:
- What is the new policy?
- Why was it important to create/change this policy?
- How does it affect the listener? Will they need to make changes?
- What should the listener do next? Do they need to speak to someone, collect new equipment, update customers/clients?
- How can they ask questions or find out more?
Each of these questions could be answered in a sentence – or a paragraph at most. Try to stick to that. Most employees will find the time to listen to a podcast that is less than 5 minutes if the information is always relevant, easy to listen to and makes them feel informed on the organisation. They will be less inclined to listen if it becomes 10/15/20 minutes of having to listen to the Health & Safety manager drone on about things that don’t relate to them directly. So, think Cliff Notes rather than the whole novel!
Keep it interesting
This goes back to the previous point of keeping the information simple, concise and to-the-point, but you also need to consider who is going to deliver the information and how. Not everybody is a good, natural speaker, especially when put in front of a microphone or asked to talk on a topic without other input.
One option is to have a podcast presenter who remains the same. This encourages familiarity for listeners, as well as someone who can ask the right questions, break up the information, provide variety in the voice (making it easier to listen to) and put the main speaker at ease.
Whoever you choose as presenter or to provide the core content, they need to sound relaxed, approachable and deliver the information in an interesting, jargon-free way. This means the person who knows the most about a topic may not be the best person to deliver it. It also means that they should not work from a full script as it encourages them to read it out loud (which rarely sounds natural). Ask them to jot down bullet points of what they want to cover instead.
Make it a habit
In order to have a better chance of your communications being heard, your podcast needs to become a habit in your non-desk employees’ lives. This means delivering it on a regular basis and when you say you will. If employees know they are getting a new podcast each week, they will make accessing it part of their week. But, if a new one doesn’t appear when it should, they’ll soon lose the habit. Don’t expect them to check regularly to see if there’s a new podcast…they won’t. If your podcast loses momentum, their listening habits will too.
Make it easy to access
As mentioned earlier, the more options you can offer non-desk employees for accessing the podcast, the more likely they are to do so. Any obstacle to accessing it is almost certain to reduce the number of listeners.
Even if your non-desk workers don’t have a business smartphone, they’re sure to have their own, so make it possible for them to have access to the podcast via a phone call, the internet or your organisation’s app (if you have one). Make it downloadable, so those who may incur roaming charges can still listen on their commute or while walking the dog. If your field workers carry handheld devices (e.g. meter readers, delivery drivers, field sales), find a way to have the podcast sent directly to the device so they can listen when they have some free time.
While the majority of your non-desk employees will be familiar with the concept of downloading or streaming audio, introducing a new podcast may require some technical education, especially for older workers. This is something to factor into your pre-promotion.
Here to Help
Podcasts are one of the most cost-effective and convenient channels for reaching your employees, wherever they may be and whatever their role, and can make a big difference to their engagement with the organisation or brand.
If you’d like to know more about creating podcasts for internal comms and how Fresh Air Group can help you get your podcast up-and-running (or should that be up-and-streaming?) call us on +44 (0)20 7100 7986.