New Survey Uncovers Growing Preference for Audio in Workplace Communications
In the scorching summer heat, it's fair to say almost no one looks forward to doing their yard work. And yet, nearly a third of employees claimed they would rather mow their lawn than read an email from their employer. That’s right – even a simple internal email can be more despised than outdoor manual labor.
A new survey by Protege Market Research and uStudio polled more than a thousand employees at large enterprises across the United States to better understand communication and learning preferences in the workplace. The results highlight a consistent trend: companies that are still dependent on traditional channels such as email and slide presentations are failing to engage a large percentage of their workers.
Emails are common, but not popular
Emails ranked particularly poorly in the survey, despite being one of the most common forms of business communication. For example, 47% of respondents were apathetic or actively disliked reading emails and company newsletters to stay up to date with their company’s news. On top of disliking emails, an even higher number of employees don’t actively engage with company content delivered over email. Nearly 60% of respondents admitted they only skim emails from their employer, compared to the nearly 35% that claimed they read company emails carefully.
Then, there are the employees who simply ignore emails. A quarter of respondents reported "often" skipping over emails from employers. Older millennials, those between the ages of 33 and 44, were the worst offenders of email skipping. Nearly a third (32%) of employees in this age group reported often skipping over emails from employers, the highest out of all age groups surveyed.
But don’t ditch the inbox just yet – employees still enjoy emails for certain kinds of communication. An overwhelming 71% of respondents ranked email as their top preferred channel for receiving non-urgent and routine employer information. However, email was the least preferred when it came to receiving onboarding or training information; a mere 4% of respondents ranked email as their top choice. For training and onboarding information, messaging apps (48%) and conference calls (26%) were the top two choices among employees. These channels allow for a higher level of personalization, ideal for education and engagement.
Employees would rather do chores than sit in a meeting
While employees preferred meetings for training, this preference didn’t carry over to other types of information sharing. In fact, only 14% of respondents ranked virtual meetings/conference calls as their first or second choice for receiving routine company information.
Additionally, nearly 60% of respondents claimed they would rather do laundry than sit in a company-wide meeting or call, demonstrating the lack of value synchronous calls provide. The apathy towards meetings also includes one-on-one calls. When asked whether they would rather meet with their manager or watch a video of what their manager had to say on their own time, 55% of employees chose the latter, declining an opportunity for face time with their boss. Ultimately, calls are time-consuming and require employees to be present at a very specific moment, despite personal conflicts or workload.
Why media streaming works for employees
To effectively communicate with employees, companies must meet their employees where they are with the flexibility they need. When survey respondents were asked to rank and list benefits of an employer-created podcast, flexibility was the top benefit reported, with 34% of respondents agreeing this was the biggest advantage. Media streaming, such as podcasting, supplies the flexibility for employees to consume information on the go, unlike traditional read/write formats.
The ability to re-listen or rewind was the next highest reported benefit, which explains why 73% of respondents would rather listen to a podcast than sit in an hour-long company meeting. Employees value being able to revisit parts they might have missed or reference the information at any time, unlike a typical staff call.
Rather than making your employees wish they were out mowing the lawn, swap out long staff meetings for streamlined podcast episodes that can be listened to on the go. Instead of filling emails with training information that will most likely be skimmed, create episodic videos employees can revisit and rewind. Incorporating media streaming gives your employees the information they want in the format that works best for them, strengthening engagement and retention of employees.
In July 2022, Protege Market Research conducted a survey for uStudio of 1,043 workers from companies with more than 1,000 employees to better understand sentiment surrounding workforce communications and preferences at large companies. All respondents were based in the U.S. and represent a sample that’s closely representative of U.S. census data in terms of age and gender identity.