Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World® Resort, stresses in his books and keynotes how important it is to communicate with employees and show appreciation for a job well done. As the Senior Operating Executive for ten years Lee led a team of 40,000 Cast Members and was responsible for the operations of 20 resort hotels, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping & entertainment village and the ESPN sports and recreation complex in addition to the ancillary operations which supported the number one vacation destination in the world.
You can imagine that it was difficult for an executive responsible for that many employees and such a huge operation that it was difficult to stay connected with individual employees. Besides making a point of spending time walking the parks daily, Lee created the Main Street Diary, an employee newsletter that he used to build connections with cast members, enhance the Disney culture, and share cast member success stories.
His son Dan, who started right out of college parking cars in the EPCOT parking lot, worked his way up to a front-line food and beverage manager at the Disneyland Resort Paris, and eventually served as VP at Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios, and now the Magic Kingdom, has continued his father’s tradition of building connections with his cast members. Dan however does it with a podcast.
Podcasting is mainstream. In 2017 48 million Americans listened to podcasts weekly. 32% of those listeners are 25 – 54 (with another 31% 12 – 24 and 15% above 55). The average listener subscribes to 6 shows, consumes 7 episodes per week, and 80% of listeners listen to more than half or all of each episode.
And forward thinking companies are using podcasts as a convenient way to connect with their employees. You can count Marriott, GEICO, and Johns Hopkins in this category of businesses using podcasts to communicate with employees through podcasts.
Why it works?
Podcasts showcase authenticity and personality even better than other mediums like video and a blog. Podcasts allow you to get rid of the long emails and scripted speeches. You can just talk and let them hear a more personal side of you.
Leaders and other key members of the staff (the podcast host) are in their ears of the listener a lot longer than someone who’s in a video. They can hear your actual voice unlike some blog they decided to read. And you come across more real and authentic because there isn’t fancy lighting and graphics like you’d have in a produced video.
Podcasts can be consumed on the go. No longer do you need to have as many boring meetings to communicate with all of your employees. Your employees can listen in the car, at the gym, walking to work… wherever they want.
For many employees in a large company, leaders often seem like distant figures. The podcast allows them to connect with employees in a way that builds a personal bond and appreciation between the two. Think about it this way… If you were hanging out with someone, at their house, in their car, at the gym, and while walking around, how long would it take you to build a real bond with them? To know, like, and trust them? Not long at all.
And more importantly, they develop a deeper relationship with the company mission, story, goals, and culture.
Suggested ways to use a podcast.
Several platforms like Libsyn, Podbean, and Blubrry offer enterprise podcast hosting solutions to allow you to securely provide your podcast only to employees. This allows you to include sensitive information in podcasts. Things like…
Messages from leaders
Important company announcements
Employee orientation and onboarding
Corporate Earnings Calls
Companies like Marriott are using podcasts for recruitment… as a way to communicate information about the company that would be helpful to job seekers. It’s a great way to use the authenticity of podcasting to your advantage early on because it builds trust with potential candidates before they even walk in the door for an interview.
Podcasts can help you build connections, enhance culture, and strengthen bonds throughout your company.
If you are using podcasts in your business, I’d love to hear your success stories and challenges.