Why podcasts might be crucial retention tools

You need to engage millennial workers, but your traditional communication channels might not be the best option. Here’s why many organizations are turning to podcasts.

Why podcasts are crucial for retention

Young employees love video—but don’t sell audio short.

Much of the talk about how employers can better engage their millennial employees focuses on young people’s affinity for digital interaction, notably social media and online communication platforms, such as Slack, Skype and Zoom. 

Podcasts are a natural ally in communicating with younger people on all sorts of fronts, including workplace memos, product updates, business strategy and employee motivation. If you are looking to make your corporate culture a little more “millennial-friendly,” here are a few reasons to consider private podcasting as a method of business communication.

Millennials are crazy about podcasts

The podcasting boom in recent years can largely be attributed to millennials’ voracious appetite for podcasts of all types. 

A 2016 survey by Linkedin of 2,700 of its users worldwide found that 42% of millennials reported regularly listening to podcasts. They’re accessing podcasts through the same platforms where they get almost all of their music: streaming services such as Spotify and Apple. 

Private podcasts are an effective medium to reach millennials in the workplace because they don’t require any significant behavior change. Younger workers are already familiar with the podcast format because it’s how they consume much of their favorite content already: sports, comedy, entertainment, news and politics. 

The entertainment factor that is associated with podcasts can also make getting key, internal messages to your millennial employees much easier than through other means of communication, such as email. 

Millennials want training

What is the No. 1 thing millennials look for in a job? It’s not ping-pong tables or free beer on tap. 

Training was the top priority cited by a survey of 1,500 millennials in a 2017 survey by Qualtrics and Accel Partners. In a 2018 survey by Bridge, an employee development suite, 86% of young employees said they would stay with an employer if provided the right career development opportunities. However, it is important that training content be delivered in the most appropriate and effective way.

Video and audio podcasts allow businesses to modernize training. Data shows that switching from an email culture to an audio-based culture can increase understanding by 500%. No matter what their learning style, a private podcast medium offers young workers the opportunity to get additional training that will help them advance their careers. 

It’s not often feasible to provide as much onsite training as your millennial employees want or deserve, but podcasts are a great way to provide recorded audio or video content from key team leaders that they can download offline and listen to at their convenience, according to their habits and travel schedule. 

The easy access of a modern podcast tool would allow your employees to download, rewind, pause, and share your learning material, giving them the opportunity to always revisit their training. If you are looking to reinforce formal lesson plans for your employees, enlisting company executives to share updates in a conversational format can help to continually support informal learning across your teams.

Young people are addicted to their phones

A study of 2,000 Americans found that the average person spends 5.4 hours a day on their smartphone. Millennials are even more glued to their screens, interacting with their mobile devices 5.7 hours a day. Extreme users who spend more than 12 hours a day on their phones are much more likely to be millennials: 13% of millennials fall into this category, compared with only 5% of Baby Boomers. 

The popularity of consumer apps helps explain why app-based training is so effective in the workplace. Podcasts are a way to meet young employees where they are already spending much of their day. If they’re devoting hours and hours to consuming audio on their phones, why not make it easy for them to access work-related content in the same way? 

Millennials want flexible schedules and workplaces

Employers are increasingly recognizing the benefits of providing workers flexible schedules and allowing employees to do more work offsite. Flexible schedules and telecommuting can significantly reduce worker stress by making it easier for employees to do their work while meeting important personal commitments, such as picking up kids from school. Millennials are particularly supportive of flexible scheduling; a recent study found 77% believe they are more productive under such a system. 

Private podcasts are one of many communication tools that enable a flexible workplace. A communication medium that enables cross-device consumption allows millennial employees to digest important information, whether they are at home or at work. This enables workers to cut down on time at the office and make better use of their onsite time. 

Livestream podcasts that employees can participate in remotely offer an opportunity for team-building, even among those who may work halfway around the world from each other. If there is a relevant live event in progress, the ability to stream via a live podcast can create watercooler conversations with shared, real-time moments among young employees.

Essentially, private podcasts help businesses connect with employees in a space where they’re already spending much of their time. They’re online, they’re on their phones, and, increasingly, they’re out of the office. 

In many cases, they don’t need or want to devote every one of their senses to the information at hand. They’re perfectly fine simply listening to it while they do something else, whether that’s taking a run, driving home from work or scrolling through Instagram.

Neil Garrett is VP of Marketing with uStudio.

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