Mark: Welcome to PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. I’m Mark Feffer. This week my guest is Steve Beauchamp, chief executive of Paylocity. The company was long known for its payroll tools, but lately it’s been moving into HCM.
We’ll talk about that, the impact of COVID-19 and what to look out for in 2021, all in this edition of PeopleTech brought to you by NetSuite. If you’re a business owner, you already know that running a business is tough, but you might be making it more difficult on yourself than you have to. Don’t let QuickBooks and spreadsheets slow you down anymore. It’s time to upgrade to NetSuite. Let NetSuite show you how they’ll benefit your business with a free product tour at netsuite.com/HCM.
And now, Steve Beauchamp, welcome. Well first, can I ask you how’s the pandemic been treating you and been treating Paylocity?
Steve: Yeah, definitely been a challenge, I think, for all of us at Paylocity and our more than 3000 employees and then our 25,000 plus customers. I think internally we have a large part of our workforce that was already remote prior to the pandemic, so that’s almost 50% of our folks. And then a lot of those other 50% do work with flexible schedules and have experience working from home. So that part of the transition was probably less challenging, still challenging.
We did that very early in March. I think what we see from our employees is just the stress from obviously having potential loved ones impacted with COVID, but also having kids out of school and trying to manage working from home and kids. And so I think for us just being there for our employees allows us to then be there for our customers. And I’m really proud of how we’ve kind of weathered the storm and kind of got into this new normal and still been able to kind of produce great results for our customers during a difficult time.
Mark: And how has the pandemic impacted the business? Are you hearing different things and different needs from customers?
Steve: So I think first and foremost, the obvious thing is the customers on average have less employees, right, unfortunately, particularly in impacted industries like restaurant, retail, hospitality in general is certainly down in terms of the number of employees. And so that’s a big challenge for our customers. And then sometimes that creates strain on those HR departments. So they might be either under-resourced or all of a sudden have new initiatives and projects that they’re trying to manage. And they’re trying to manage all their employees’ nervousness and angst as well. And so as they come to us, they are looking for solutions for communication and connecting with their employees, particularly now that some of those are going to be remote. So we have a product called Community that we’ve seen usage really increased significantly over the last six months.
So think about that as kind of a social collaboration capabilities within the platform where our clients are doing announcements and they’re sending out documents and videos and really trying to connect with their employees. And then we’ve also seen them leverage a lot more learning management. So some of this training that you would do onsite and you have a classroom setting and some of it’s compliance-oriented training, but some of it’s skill-based training. And so we’ve seen increases over the last, call it, six plus months in utilization of Community, which is a free product, as all of our customers have, but we’ve also seen signups and utilization for our learning management increase significantly.
Mark: Okay, now we’re recording this in early December and there’s beginning to be signs that there may be a vaccine soon and distribution beginning soon. And so talk about reopening has started up again, but realistically, how do you think reopening is going to play out if you consider the work involved in manufacturing the vaccine, distributing the vaccine, making sure everybody in the workforce is accounted for in some way or another? What are the challenges do you think employers going to face with that and what is Paylocity going to do to help its customers?
Steve: Yeah, so I think some of the challenges that we’re going to see over the next year are unfortunately fairly similar to the ones that we have now. So when you’ve got a lot of uncertainty, which is what we’re going to have, even around the vaccine, when are people going to get vaccinated, what impact that’s going to have. So I think you’re going to see a lot of uncertainty in your employee base.
And so one of the challenges we saw that came really evident early in March is you’ve got to over-communicate with employees, find ways to listen to them, whether you’re surveying them, whether you’re having round table sessions, whether you’re doing Zoom calls, but this idea of trying to continue to connect with employees, because they’ve got a lot of questions and they’re uncertain themselves. They don’t know when their kids are going to be back in school. They don’t know if they go back to school, are they going to then end up being back online and now I’m working virtually.
And so that’s the number one thing that I think we’ve really tried to help our clients with using our survey products, our learning products, our Community is get more connection points with your customers and make sure that not all those connection points are live Zoom meetings, where they’re worried about what’s happening in their background and they don’t have flexibility in their schedule. They have to be on a specific time. Use asynchronous tools.
So a lot of our video product that we’ve launched allows you to record and share video content, as well as maybe your screen at the same time versus maybe having an hour meeting or taking that hour meeting down to 30 minutes or having a meeting free Friday morning or something like that. And so I think this idea of flexible schedules and communication, which has been a big point of conversation over the last now almost eight months, will continue to be throughout 2021.
Mark: I wanted to, I’m curious about one of those tools that you talked about, your video messaging, which had just launched not too long ago. What’s the reaction been to that? It’s seems kind of interesting that you’ve got something where a user can record a message and then send it almost like a video email. So it’s about sending a more dynamic message as opposed to having a conversation.
Mark: Are people adopting that or?
Steve: Yeah, they are and in different ways. I would say the most common use case that people are adopting for is HR and the leaders at the company. And so for me, for me as the CEO of Paylocity, I do send video messages rather than maybe having an all-company town hall to supplement the all company town hall. And then I’m seeing leaders across the organization try to communicate and make that more personal connection because that’s one of the things that we all miss when we’re spending time remotely is you don’t see people enough and video isn’t a replacement for it, for sure, but you can supplement some of those connection points with asynchronous video. And the real part that people enjoy is they can then digest that information on their schedule. So it just automatically creates flexibility for them. And so we see a lot of announcements, various different initiatives.
We see people actually using it now, and this is probably early stage, but as an addition to a one-on-one meeting. So we have a journal product in Performance where you can do kind of ongoing Performance conversations, but you can also send a video message maybe before I’m having a one-on-one with my leader about the topics that I want to be able to cover and maybe some initial thoughts. And you can maybe take that hour one-on-one session and maybe kind of get it down to half hour by having this connection points ahead of time.
So we’ve seen people start to adopt it that way. And then we’ve also seen people kind of create their own training. So I’m going to use this video capability and I’m going to show you a product demonstration, or I’m going to show you physically how to store products. And then I’m going to share that with people across the organization.
And so this idea of being able to create these asynchronous videos and give people the flexibility to digest them, we’re starting to see that in a few different use cases. I think the last one I would mention is a newer one that we’re kind of working on is the video job description idea. And so, when I go to a company’s kind of website and I’m seeing a job, I can maybe hear it from somebody who’s in that job what it’s like to be in that job, or maybe the leader that’s going to be hiring for that job, some of the criteria that they’re looking for. And so we really started to insert a lot in the way we work at Paylocity.
So one of our philosophies is let’s use our products first, figure out what the most useful use cases are, roll them out to our customers, watch what our customers actually do, and then continue to iterate. And so I think we’re still early in seeing how our customers are using it, but that’s what some of the most common use cases so far.