Right about now in a San Francisco hotel, Zenefits is unveiling its reimagined, redesigned HR platform for the SMB market. From what I saw during the briefing the company conducted last week, the new version is a winner in every way.
Z2, as the company calls it, is, to borrow a description from the company blog, an HR operating system. If that strikes you as marketing hype, it is, but just a little. Like Zenefits v.1, Z2 has a core set of features every company can use, and, like the original Zenefits, they’re free. But, like an OS, Z2 interacts in convenient and efficient ways with outside applications.
So do lots of HR systems you might be thinking, which is certainly true. What sets Z2 apart is that it functions more like your phone. As part of the launch this morning, Zenefits is introducing an apps marketplace with 17 partners offering tools such as Quickbooks for payroll accounting, Slack for communications and productivity, Office 360, and Greenhouse for recruiting. Adding one is as easy as adding one to your phone. Find what you want, click it, and there is it on your Zenefits dashboard.
As a cloud-based HRIS, Zenefits easily passes through all the information required by your new service; no data entry required. When you make a change to an employee required, Zenefits automatically updates all the services.
Here’s an example from the demo: An employee asks for time off via Slack (a paid service in the App Directory). A bot passes the request to the appropriate channels and when approved, it talks to payroll and changes the PTO accounting all without the need for HR to do any data entry.
Beyond the apps marketplace, the basic Zenefits platform has become more employee friendly. Benefits administration has been turned into a more, pardon the use of the word, “fun” process. Administrators can compare cost and benefits of something like 10,000 plans. Now that might be a daunting task, but handy filters make it far more manageable than you might expect.
And now here’s an employee friendly aspect to choosing a plan: Ask it to show you the in-network providers for a plan and it will map them — and your employees — so you can see what kind of access your workers will have and the convenience of getting to a provider.
Did I mention this is all free? Zenefits makes it money by selling premium services — time and attendance and some others including payroll processing, which will launch first in the company’s home state of California. It also makes money by acting as the broker for the medical, dental and vision plans Zenefits’ users select.
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This is the area where Zenefits ran into trouble last year when it was discovered the company was brokering insurance without the required licenses. Several states began investigating the company, and in February founder and CEO Parker Conrad was forced out.
In showing off the new Z2 platform, the company didn’t discuss the earlier problems, but the accompanying press release did note Zenefits’ “more than 250 licensed benefits brokers.”
With the legal problems largely behind, today’s Z2 launch is the kind of event that could again lift the company’s outlook, again making it one of Silicon Valley’s success stories.
More than that, for human resource professionals looking to become more efficient and productive at a price that will make your CFO smile, Z2 should be at the top of your list. In the press release announcing Z2, CEO David Sacks, said, “This is the future of this industry.” He just might be right.