Employee development is crucial for any organization as it is a sure way of moving forward, getting better results, and maintaining a good market share. Corporate training has come a long way from its beginnings, mimicking traditional classrooms with a facilitator in front and everyone taking notes.
The modern learner wants the benefits of the latest technology, the possibility to learn on their own time, and choose the subjects instead of being assigned an immobile learning path.
There are numerous options for learning designers, various platforms, apps and templates — all aimed at making corporate education both engaging and effective. The option I’ll discuss today is podcasting: a learning facilitation method that is convenient and non-invasive.
Some of you may wonder why learning specialists would opt for this method rather than e-learning or educational videos. While those are obviously highly efficient, there are instances when a voice-only rendering will work best.
For one, today’s employees (whether they are working remotely or not) suffer from visual overload. With so much time spent in front of screens to complete the tasks, they relish the opportunity to learn in a different way – on their porches, in a park, or simply on their couches without having to follow any digitalized succession of images.
Furthermore, podcasting employs storytelling techniques that have the capacity to engage the listener and activate different regions of the brain to ensure information retention.
How to start?
Like with any new project, setting up a podcasting infrastructure for employee development requires preparation. The first thing to do is put up a team that will be responsible for the creation and implementation of corporate podcasting.
There have to be clear benefits for the company as well as for the employees (in written, organized form) so that when there is a need to make the case for budgeting resources and employee time, it will be easier to support.
The issues of format and content also need to be discussed at this point, as well as the responsibility of each team member and the KPIs by which both individual performance and the results of podcasting as a learning tool will be measured.
Where to stream from?
If the organization has a top-level LMS with podcasting capabilities and an internet connection with enough bandwidth to accommodate audio streaming for numerous users, the question above is quickly answered. However, when that is not the case, a professional podcast hosting platform needs to be picked, and there are a few things to consider when making the selection.
The basics are storage capacity, user-friendliness, and offered bandwidth. Apart from that, the decision should be influenced by:
- Accessibility (you ought to go for an SSO) but also security of information since you might be sharing sensitive inside information.
- Mobility – opt for a platform that has a mobile app functioning on all operating systems.
- Multiple channels and multiple admins – even if the project starts small, it needs to have the right infrastructure to grow.
- The analytics made available by the provider – as it is with all learning intervention, L&D specialists will need to monitor and report.
What are the analytics available for podcasting?
One of the main concerns upon selecting this as a learning solution is the apparent lack of control and information. Since podcasts are rarely downloaded, being mostly streamed, L&D specialists worry that there will be no telling how many people listened to them and if people went through the whole episode or gave up at a certain point.
Professional platforms are prepared to offer several highly relevant statistics, including the number of listeners and even the days and times of day when there was a more intense activity.
Furthermore, highly performing platforms go deeper and gather data concerning user engagement, looking at what pieces of content were re-played, what was skipped, and when the podcast was stopped.
All this can then help figure out what needs to be optimized, what episodes are too long or what pieces of information are not sufficiently clear.
What logistics are necessary for podcasting?
Everyone with an internet connection and a laptop with a working microphone can record a podcast. However, making it sound good requires a bit more equipment and the knowledge of how to operate it.
With corporate learning, everything should be flawless. This requires the utmost professionalism and state of the art technology. With modern organizations having their departments geographically scattered, it’s counter-intuitive to invest in high-quality technology that will be transported continuously where it is required.
The more flexible way to do it is to pay for professional studio time when and where it is necessary. Having this option opens the door to having various SMEs as guests regardless of where they are situated. It also saves a lot of time with tweaking the settings because studios have professionals who can get them right fast and painless.
The popularity of podcasts is mainly due to the fact that they allow for multi-tasking. People like to feel like they are doing something constructive when they are stuck in traffic or sitting on their daily commute. In the shelter in place context, podcasts also offer a welcome break from too much screen time. It’s both convenient and engaging (due to its storytelling mechanics) and thus a perfect way of delivering information and building up skills.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.