Update and Iterate: How Refreshing Our Digital Workplace Reinvigorated Our Company Culture
When your company is experiencing rapid growth, there is a mindset to do more, and to do it fast. And often, when you move fast and things break, the instinct is to scrap what’s broken in favor of installing something new and more robust in its place. Or, to continue to build on existing infrastructure, ignoring the problems or trying to fix them with new, unnecessary features.
We do things differently at Paycor.
We’re never satisfied with “good enough,” which is why we’re one of the top payroll and HR SaaS companies, serving medium- to small-sized organizations. We have 1,600 employees countrywide with about 900 located in two office buildings in Cincinnati—one of which is our headquarters. The rest of our team is remote or in satellite offices around the US. We recently outgrew our first building and are still experiencing rapid growth.
To support this rapid growth, we implemented a digital workplace with Igloo in 2012. We wanted to create a central destination where everyone could communicate and interact with one another, see each other's photos, and feel like all employees are part of the same family. This hub was intended to build a cohesive sense of community as more Paycor offices popped up around the country.
Yet, something as vital as a digital workplace can easily get set on a backburner when the company is focused on growing and building out its own products and services. But we realized a platform like Igloo could support our company’s growth, help create a robust company culture, reinforce our branding, and share and organize company documentation. While we were hitting the mark on some of our goals, engagement wasn’t where we wanted it to be.
Leveraging Our Frustration as a Catalyst for Change
I started at Paycor in a different department, and it was frustrating to use our workspace within that role. I couldn't find the documents or tools I needed to get my job done. But when I stepped into my current role, I knew I could finally do something about it.
I realized our digital workplace needed to become more of an employee experience platform; a central destination that would connect a variety of applications and enable employees to interact with their colleagues, share updates, and avoid blasting emails. It would be a place you can post that celebratory retirement photo of your colleague, or advertise and recruit volunteers for community events. It would also be a place where you can recognize your colleagues and get informed about upcoming product updates. With those goals in mind, we decided to take action.
We started with a full company survey, where we asked for people’s feedback on the workspace. More than half of the company responded, which proved to us that people used the site and saw the potential in our workspace and cared about improving it. We heard complaints, so our goal was to find the root of the problem. We wanted to know whether it was the search functionality, the appearance, the site structure, or even a mixture of these issues.
We then explored the key, repetitive messages even further in focus groups, asking whether this was indeed the best platform for us. We heard it looked somewhat “clunky” and didn't match the clean, modern look we had built in our headquarters.
We learned if we altered the layout, enhanced some of the search functionality by properly tagging files as well as cleaning up outdated files, it could feel like a new site. So, the design and the search functionality became our two main objectives.
With our goals in hand, we needed to decide if we would refresh our existing workspace or start from scratch with a different technology and vendor. But as we looked around at the other options in the market, switching to another vendor just didn’t make sense. Our issues were not with the platform, but how we were using it. Igloo’s capabilities were strong, and we’d built an incredible partnership with the company over the years.
We took the feedback and decided to refresh our Igloo digital workplace. From there, we kicked off a refresh project with Igloo in July 2017. We met with Igloo to do a walk-through of the Community Workbook, where they asked about the feedback we gathered, our key objectives, and our brand assets and guidelines to define the look and feel. Then, we got to work and put it all together.
Modern and Functional: The Finished Product
In January 2018, we launched, and our refreshed workspace has never looked more exciting. The finished product matches our headquarters, with the same colors and modernized appearance. It mirrors our brand and connects with new developments we've done. We're working to keep that consistent as we move forward. The company's language has also changed slightly, so we also addressed that in the refresh. For example, we used to simply call our departments “departments” and now we call them “business units.”
Organization-wise, the employee resource group pages were inconsistent and disorganized. Now, they're properly labelled in what we call “the social zone,” which is much more accessible. It's also easy to add new pages to this area of the portal, which will ensure we stay organized.
The Outcome: Fresh and Organic
Once we launched the refreshed digital workplace we immediately saw a strong uptick of users going to the site. They spent increased time on the pages and interacted more with the content. The new layout empowered employees to post on their own, which was something I think they were afraid to do before.
I now see different names ranking as the most active members, instead of just my name. People are giving recognition to their peers and posting about their community events and initiatives going on in their business units. We have more traffic than we ever did before.
While most of the increased engagement has been organic, we’ve also paired it with a weekly e-newsletter, where we highlight top posts in an email that drives employees back to the site to learn more. We want people to seek out the great activity and information, and remind them of what’s been posted.
The new workspace has even improved new-hire training. We’ve created a course about how to use the site so new hires are empowered to log on, change their profile, and share something. It cultivates that interest and buy-in early on. I’m also coaching others to post their own updates instead of just doing it for them, like we did in the past. Nurturing an empowered and engaged workforce means that the posts will be more natural, helpful, and meaningful.
Our new workspace has also become a great place for people to read notes from our leaders. They'll comment on posts too, so it's opening up two-way communication channels, especially for those who work in locations away from the leaders.
Everyone is encouraged to post when they see someone doing a great job and to share that with the Paycor community. Our workspace now helps foster that behavior because they can see it makes a difference to the recipient.
As we get bigger, it’s important that peers offer feedback. It helps to reinvigorate our company culture within the platform, which is becoming more and more critical as Paycor continues to grow.
Igloo: A Responsive Partner During a Streamlined Process
Igloo was a great partner throughout the entire refresh process. They were there when we needed checkpoints and were always available to answer questions. They worked closely with our design team to help us nail the new aesthetic which was an incredibly important part of our refresh. I was blown away by what they can do, and their help was greatly appreciated. We even added a couple extra design elements right before the launch date, and Igloo quickly helped us get them up and running. Even when we needed a few adjustments right after launch, they took care of that in less than 48 hours.
The Igloo team was always available. They remind me a lot of what we do here, since they’re also very customer focused. They want to take our ideas and make them happen, so they always listen to our feedback and incorporate that into future product updates. The partnership side was a major factor in our decision to continue with the Igloo platform, and it’s nice to see it paying off.
The Must-Haves Mindset
Looking back on the refresh, there are definitely some best practices I’ve uncovered. For starters, you need to have patience—expect change and roadblocks during the process. Don't get frazzled if your plan alters course, because that will happen. But once the process is done, it’ll be refreshing to see the difference. It will pay off in the long run.
A refresh of your digital workplace or intranet is important to demonstrate you're continuing to improve and grow internally, because that's what your company is likely doing, too. Everyone is aware that we're going through a rapid growth period, and it’s important internal policies and resources match that action.
You also have to keep the environment fresh to keep people’s attention. The exciting updates capture people’s attention alongside the important information. The biggest lesson I learned was to start small and grow big. There's only two of us at Paycor who manage this project, and it’s only one facet of our jobs. Starting small allowed us to better understand and implement our must-haves. There’s always time to make our digital workplace bigger and better because it's a living system.
Small Actions, Big Growth, Strong Community
Our new digital workspace certainly isn’t finished, but we’ve made an incredible turnaround. Everyone is more energized and enthusiastic about the possibilities of our new setup. As Paycor continues to grow with our dispersed staff, we know we will be able to scale to keep everyone connected. Communication and collaboration won’t need to suffer while we flourish as an organization.
Starting small and working with the right partner allowed us to transform a vital piece of our organization. We could have just let things be, but we knew our employees deserved better. We’re just in the beginning of our transformation, but our future has never looked brighter.