Paychex: Employee engagement from internal events — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Evette Tan of Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

4:30 —'s Kurt Vanderah introduces Paychex's Joe Schaeffer.

4:31 — Joe starts off by saying the original title of his presentation was “How I learned to stop worrying and embrace the crushing certainty of change”.

4:32 — Joe says the story starts on September 3, 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden, when they stopped driving on the left, and started driving on the right. His change wasn't that bad, but it felt similar. It started when he got a call about socializing the sales conference. No big deal — you just push the “socialize” button, right?

4:33 — For some context, the sales conference is a heavy part of the corporate culture. It's an intensely private event — the only way to get there is to sell well. It's as much a reward as anything as well. It's a behavioral driver within the organization.

4:35 — Joe: But there is something we can work with here. The play here can be on Paychex as an employment brand. That this is a great event and a great place to work.

4:37 — Joe outlines their plan as follows:
1. Planning & Communication
2. Event Coverage
3. Follow-up

4:39 — Under Planning & Communication they identified goals early. They decided to keep it safe — which means their travel and event team implemented an event app that let people share content where filters can be applied if necessary — and keep it simple. They ran a daily photo challenge where they could win $200 if they were randomly drawn.

4:40 — Joe also had to work on the messaging — keeping it consistent and being clear about what was expected. He created an exclusive group on Chatter and used targeted email. He also looked for champions to talk to. Champions aren't always executives.

4:41 — Joe didn't have a budget, so he looked for low-tech, low-cost solutions. They used ad hoc services.

4:43 — Joe repurposed plenty of the content from the low-cost apps to feed their Instagram and Twitter profiles. To get to the executives and champions, because Joe knew he had to reach them to get participation throughout, his first posted challenge was to get a selfie with a Paychex VP. He might have done better warning the VPs first, but they loved it.

4:45 — Leading by example was also important. Joe used low-budget props and posed with them to encourage others.

4:47 — Joe says they had 2.5million impressions for the hashtag, a high velocity engagement, 1400 posts, and doubling their Instagram followers (full disclosure: as a B2B brand, Paychex did not have millions of Instagram followers).

4:49 — Going back to September 3, 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden: the switch, what appears to be chaos, resulted in a 30% drop in accidents. The confusion of switching was what they'd intended to do all along.


Q: Was there any concern from senior VPs that confidential information would get disclosed?

A: Fortunately for us, this being an incentive meeting was actually light on business content. We wouldn't do this for internal operations meetings, so it wasn't an issue.

Q: Did that success translate over the long term?

A: Absolutely. The #bestconferenceever hashtag is still being used and one of my colleagues said someone following the conference online is now referring their son to apply for us.

Q: How do you encourage your employees to talk about how great your company is while making sure they know not to step over into inappropriate content?

A: I still try to lead by example. When I communicate with them I'm trying to also do what I am telling them to do. I'm not trying to convert everybody — I make it clear that they don't have to be there if they don't feel comfortable about that.