CEOs should increase the frequency of their communication to improve the workplace culture. That’s the top advice from Paylocity CEO Steve Beauchamp, who has led the HR and online payroll company since 2007 as it has grown from 100 employees to more than 4,100 today.
It’s a strategy with which Beauchamp himself has found success: He has been named a Glassdoor Top CEO for five consecutive years, with a 92% approval rating from employees.
Beauchamp shared his thoughts on leading during that period of extensive growth in the March 2022 episode of the 21st Century Business Forum. The webcast features monthly one-on-one interviews with some of the nation’s most prominent business minds.
The Business Forum is presented by Arkansas Business and sponsored by CHI St. Vincent.
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Beauchamp discussed how he has been able to replicate the company’s culture and utilize technology to keep employees engaged while working remotely over the past two years.
“Short, authentic, frequent bursts of communication,” he says. “That’s what I would really focus on as a leader.”
Prior to the pandemic, Beauchamp says he spent a considerable amount of time preparing for quarterly meetings with staff using tools like PowerPoint. Today, he hosts a 30-minute question and answer session with employees once every two weeks. “It’s less of my time, it’s way more appreciated by employees, and I can pick topics that help drive the culture and reinforce what the key initiatives are,” he says.
Beauchamp got the idea during the pandemic. He started recording two-minute videos on his phone to address questions from employees about what was happening within the organization, including COVID-related challenges and how those challenges were being addressed. He used the company’s software to send the videos out, and employees were able to react, comment and ask questions. They could digest the information at their convenience, and the videos helped manage employee stress.
“It creates more connection when you’ve got a group of 4,000 people,” Beauchamp says.
Employees working from home has increased efficiency, Beauchamp says. But he does worry about the unintended consequences such as employees not having as much personal connection with their team and their manager. “You see people being more comfortable moving jobs,” Beauchamp says. “As they really getting connected to what the company is really about?”
He says he believes the changes in the workplace will be a net positive for society from a productivity standpoint and the overall satisfaction of employees. To combat “Zoom fatigue,” his company has tried to recreate some of the same team-building activities online that used to take place in-person at the office. For example, the company hosted a virtual pumpkin carving contest at Halloween, a decorating contest at Christmas and a virtual talent show.
“We tried to get the creativity of employees going, and find ways to be able to connect,” he says. “If you think of the things you would normally do in the office, you’ve got to think of a way to recreate those things online. You create events. You give prizes.”
The workplace has changed permanently, Beauchamp says. Many of those changes were going to happen regardless as Generation Z—the demographic succeeding Millennials—enters the workforce in greater numbers. This generation grew up using the Internet and portable digital technology from a young age, and CEOs must find different ways to share information.
“All of these things were going to change, but COVID really accelerated that trend,” Beauchamp says. “The challenge is most companies weren’t ready for that.”
Beauchamp says his advice is for CEOs to just jump in and try something new. “Everybody is in the same situation,” Beauchamp says. “Dive into it. Try not to be afraid. Get employees who are really comfortable to be able to champion a new way of being able to communicate and connect with each other.”