Spokn is the podcasting platform for work. It’s transforming how companies build culture and community in a remote-first world.
There’s no single recipe for a great company culture – especially now as companies work to lay plans for permanent remote or hybrid models. But one thing is certain: to succeed long-term, companies need a fundamentally different approach than the piecemeal, often reactive measures they’ve taken since COVID began. Zoom workshops, virtual craft sessions and Donut matches - all useful stop-gaps - are no longer sufficient. For companies to retain (or build) a great culture, they need to begin with a different mindset – one that acknowledges that as they grow, the vast majority of employees will never experience ongoing, in-office ‘culture.’
We’re lucky to work with some incredible ‘culture-first’ companies like Udemy, Robinhood, Cedar, Podium and Snyk that are leading the curve in reimagining “great culture” in a remote or hybrid world.
Their specific approaches differ, but they share a common thread: a new focus on community. It’s a feeling of fellowship and cooperation with the people around you, who share your values and your pursuit of a goal – regardless of where they are or in what time zone.
When it comes to company culture, one word separates “good” from “great”: community. Here’s what it looks like in action:
Spokn is the workplace podcasting platform for the remote-first world. Fast growing, culture-first companies like Udemy, Robinhood, Cedar and Snyk use Spokn to tap the popularity of podcasting for better internal communication, employee engagement, learning, talent acquisition and more.
It’s a long list! Companies use internal podcasting to support a huge range of business priorities. The common denominator: companies are trying to build community, connection and belonging for employees in a remote world. Most of our customers have felt the intimacy of voice and storytelling listening to podcasts in their personal lives. They realize that the format provides a perfect balance: the richness of voice carries far more meaning than an email or Slack message, and at same time it avoids the Zoom and scheduling fatigue that leads to burnout.
Among the most popular podcasts we’ve seen:
Remote-first models require companies to tackle culture building and interpersonal connectedness in fundamentally different ways. For one, existing means of internal communication are great for synchronous events such as kick-offs or town halls, but not as great for leaders to tell their personal stories and show vulnerability to help build rapport and trust with their teams. Spokn helps them do that in an authentic and personal way.
Second, employees in a remote-first company expect, and often need, work to cater to their personal schedules (ie. caregiving responsibilities, working in different timezones, etc.) Delivering departmental or project updates in an asynchronous podcast format helps teams stay connected to the mission without piling on more Zoom fatigue.
Additionally, without a physical “watercooler” for people to interact around, companies need a new way to codify and showcase company values and culture and help employees get to know the people they work with – without “forced fun.” After all, Slack is noisy, Zoom meetings are transactional, and employees won’t have the opportunity to pick it up through osmosis in the office. Podcasts that highlight and celebrate people’s stories are a great way to build and strengthen that culture. Plus the analytics that Spokn provides help people and culture leaders keep a pulse on what their teams are reacting to in real-time.
Podcasts on Spokn humanize and enrich almost every part of an employee’s experience – even before their first day.
“Pre-boarding” podcasts with welcoming messages from the hiring manager and teammates create a warm bond and excitement in the lead-up to Day One. In their first weeks, onboarding podcasts introduce new hires to the company’s origin story, its values, department leaders, strategic initiatives, and company lore. The result? New hires ramp faster and feel like insiders, even if they’ve never stepped inside the office.
One of the most powerful ways that podcasts enhance employee engagement is through creating a sense of community. Hearing stories – and the act of sharing them, too – reveals areas of common interest and helps employees feel a sense of belonging. Think about it: when you hear someone on a podcast, you instantly have a conversation-starter. It seems small, but it means a lot when you haven’t met a coworker before.
As employees progress at the company, learning and development podcasts enable them to learn from internal company experts and identify potential mentors and coaches. These podcasts offer relatable stories and realistic advice that’s specific to the company culture to guide employees through topics like feedback, performance reviews, setting goals, coaching, and having difficult conversations.
Podcasts from executive leadership help employees see the ‘big picture’ – keeping them aligned to the company strategy and motivated to contribute. Recognition-based podcasts like ‘Kudos’ or ‘Spotlights’ elevate diverse voices within the company and provide extra affirmation for top performers.
Finally, capturing recordings of live events in Spokn’s podcast repository makes it easy for new hires, caregivers or geographically diffuse employees to access the information after the event, so they can stay in the loop.
While less advice and more affirmation, we want to start by stating: way to go! Measurement is so important - especially now, when companies need to become far more sophisticated in their internal communications and employee engagement efforts to support remote work.
A great place to begin is to measure trust and transparency within the organization and retention. A company could easily run a survey through a platform like AllVoices or Culture Amp to dive into Likert-scale questions such as, “I feel like I can trust leaders at my company,” “I feel the company operates in a transparent way with employees,” and, “I feel like I can be myself at work.”
For companies that implement internal podcasting, the ‘gold standard’ is to hold a survey prior to the launch of podcasting, then at the three-month, six-month and year-marks. Because Spokn has its own suite of analytics, customers are able to map their engagement survey data against the data we provide on areas like popular podcast topics and most and least active departments.
We recently had two ‘Ah-ha’ moments.