Zenefits — the startup benefits company valued at $4.5 billion after its last round of fundraising — is rolling out two more potential industry disruptors in the form of Zenefits for Managers and Zenefits Business Intelligence.
The two products will be available for free, like much of the Zenefits software platform. The company makes money by acting as a benefits broker, a new model of middle entity between health insurance and payroll providers and employers.
“This is by far the biggest change to our product since we launched two years ago,” Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad said. “We’ve only had employee-level users, who have access to their own information, and administrators, who sort of have godlike power over everything. And in most organizations, authority is more widely distributed than that. This product adds a third role, or third group of people — the managers of the company.”
Conrad noted that Workday software is at the core of the new product, and that it’s designed to act like enterprise-grade human resources software — but it’s free to use, which he believes will make it more accessible to small and medium businesses.
“We didn’t want any complex implementation,” Conrad said. “The way it’s set up, anyone who is a manager in the company can request any change in Zenefits that they want, whether it’s hiring an employee, firing an employee, increasing compensation or arranging a transfer.”
Managers’ requests are just that — requests — and a company administrator must approve them.
“It lets me crowdsource all my work as an administrator into the organization, into the line managers in the company, without me having to give up any control,” Conrad explained.
He’s been testing the software himself, alongside a beta group that includes Redapt, a Washington-based data infrastructure and cloud solutions company; Redapt CFO Spencer Leu said that because he wanted to connect his Zenefits with his ADP payroll account, implementation took “a couple of weeks,” but said that the implementation period “was in line with what they gave us for expectations, and I don’t think a couple of weeks is anything out of the ordinary. It’s a pretty big deal to get your health insurance, life insurance, payroll and onboarding process loaded in.”
Another tweak to the software involves business intelligence analytics that any manager can access.
“I can look up turnover, head count; there are really nice visualizations, and I can drill down really easily. There’s a lot of information at my fingertips, and my managers have complete visibility into their own reports,” Leu said.
“When my company hit about 300 employees, I felt like I lost all of this sensibility into what the hell was going on,” Conrad said. “I saw this ‘New York Times’ profile where I was like, ‘Running this business is the scariest thing I’ve ever done.’ Zenefits for Managers has restored a lot of my visibility into what’s happening and given me a lot of tools I need to see what’s going on at a really granular level in the organization.”