Filling a Gap

By Douglas Shuit

Jun. 3, 2005

Payroll, open enrollment and benefits administration can be a nightmare for a company like Dallas-based Atrium Cos., a window and door manufacturer. Over the past eight years, Atrium has gone from 900 employees to 6,700, creating enough payroll and workforce management issues to outgrow two software systems.

    Nancy Hartmann, corporate human resources director for Atrium, says she thinks the third system, from Employease Inc., will have more staying power. After shopping around, she signed up Employease in 2003 and just renewed for another two years. But she is keeping her options open.

    “You never know where you will be tomorrow,” she says.

    Small and midsize employers like Atrium, while they have the same administrative requirements as much larger companies, often don’t have the budget for a full enterprise-wide HRMS application or the desire to dramatically boost their IT and human resources departments to handle the extra work.

    Enter Employease, one of a number of growing software service providers that fill the gap between blue-chip HRMS applications with all the bells and whistles and outdated legacy systems that date back to the dawn of software.

    Employease, which has won awards for its Web technology, has 1,000 small to midsize clients. It markets its technology, which offers nearly all the traditional HRMS services with the exception of payroll, for its ease of use.

    “People don’t want scary, very hard to do, something you approach with trepidation,” says Jeff Beinke, Employease’s vice president of product strategy. “Every application must be easy to use, easy to implement and easy to learn. If a feature doesn’t conform to that, we send it back to the drawing board.”

    Employease offers a variety of services, such as benefits administration, self-service for both managers and employees and performance management. Clients are allowed to pick and choose the services they want rather than having to sign up for a complete suite.

    What makes it go are more than 3,000 connections with medical, dental, life insurance and 401(k) providers outside the company, as well as agreements with enterprise-level software providers like PeopleSoft, Lawson Software and SAP, Beinke says. As for not providing payroll, Beinke says Employease finds it easier to outsource to one of the major players, like Ceridian, ADP or Millenium.

    Employease can implement its system in four to eight weeks, in contrast to months and sometimes years for larger systems. Charges range from $4 to $8 per employee per month.

    Atrium outsources its payroll to ADP. It uses Employease for benefit communications, open enrollment and as the connection between the company and its leading health care provider, Cigna.

    Employease does the health insurance billing and reconciliation of monthly premiums. If employees have a problem, they call Employease directly, rather than someone at Atrium.

    “The whole process saves us a lot of time and fixes a lot of mistakes,” Hartmann says. She doesn’t like to think what it would take to do it in-house. “You get past the additional people, and then there are issues like adding cubicles and filing systems and computers. The list of things is never ending.”

Workforce Management, June 2005, pp. 60-62Subscribe Now!

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