Thinking Differently: Innovation Day at Paycor
Paycor recently hosted its second Innovation Day, a two-day event where IT associates have the opportunity to work on special projects outside of their normal, everyday work. They could work on new ideas for Paycor products, ways to improve an internal process, or even how to boost their personal productivity.
CIO Vinay Mehta and Enterprise Program Manager Kim Fehring were inspired to create Innovation Day after attending the Front End of Innovation Conference last year. “It was eye-opening,” Kim said. “I came back with pages and pages of notes and new ideas.” And so Paycor’s quarterly Innovation Day was born. According to Vinay, the focus of each Innovation Day is “tapping into the combined creativity and insight of our employees to identify new opportunities for success or find different ways to solve old problems.” Kim sees it as an opportunity to “feed and fuel creativity outside of the normal, daily grind.”
The event is informally structured, with few rules and a laid-back, grassroots approach. As Vinay put it, “Our approach is to give our associates the time and space to collaborate, investigate and explore thoughts and ideas in an informal way, without the pressure of deadlines and formal oversight.” Innovation Day is spread over two days, so IT associates can devote time to their projects but also ensure their work responsibilities are taken care of.
At the conclusion of the event, each associate or group of associates gets three minutes to present their concept to a cross-functional panel of judges, who rank them on a variety of factors. The top ideas move on to a second round where they can make a pitch to gain support from the executive team.
But even for the groups that do not move onto the next round, Innovation Day is a valuable exercise: it sparks new ideas and challenges associates to think differently. As a result, innovation becomes ingrained in the culture and associates are more empowered to take initiative. “As an entrepreneurial company that is challenging the old-school thinking in our industry,” Vinay said, “it is imperative that we move our technology forward in ways that are new and unique in solving the issues facing our clients.” Goals for future Innovation Days include driving even more participation and engagement, and infusing innovation more broadly throughout the company. The end result is technology that better serves our clients’ needs.