As Zenefits turns the page from dark times to days which it hopes will be more prosperous, it has launched two new applications designed to benefit the workforce. In addition to announcing its app marketplace, Zenefits also introduced a native payroll product and a service to facilitate benefits shopping and enrollment.

Having a payroll offering isn’t new to Zenefits; it was announced last year and became available in beta in January. Chen Fang, the company’s director of product, told VentureBeat, “Payroll has always been a part of Zenefits’ DNA. We had payroll integrations that allowed companies to connect existing payroll systems with Zenefits.” However, the firm opted to shift its focus to rebuild the offering from the ground up in order to “deliver a better customer experience.”

Previously, Zenefits had outsourced its payroll features to third-party services, including ADP, but after the payroll giant severed the connection, the HR software platform opted to build its own. More than 500 companies have had access to the new Zenefits Payroll beta product, with more than 4,000 still on the waitlist. It’s now opening up to the masses, starting in California with additional states “coming shortly.”

Zenefits Payroll dashboard showing time off for an employee.

Above: Zenefits Payroll dashboard showing time off for an employee.

Image Credit: Zenefits

Zenefits Payroll does exactly what it sounds like — it processes a company’s payroll. Administrators are shown an overview page when logged in, showing reminders on when to run payroll, do taxes, and more. There’s also a calendar that lists important dates as well as a list of pay runs.

One feature that Fang claimed Zenefits customers enjoyed is the “timeline” feature, which can be thought of as a news feed for every single payroll change across the entire company. “Payroll is tedious because every pay period, administrators have to go around and collect a lot of information — promotions, employees that have prorated hours, vacation time, overtime, 401(k) changes, handle deductions, etc,” he said. The timeline shows all the information that has changed with all employees, like an activity feed on social media. This feature is currently only available within Zenefits Payroll because “everything will eventually flow into payroll — it’s used to compute your paycheck.” Fang said that over time, it will become standard across all of Zenefits’ apps.

Zenefits Payroll dashboard

Above: Zenefits Payroll dashboard.

Image Credit: Zenefits

“It’s not about delight, it’s about how much less work you have to do,” he remarked, highlighting that Zenefits will take care of the the payroll distribution process and liaising with banks and the IRS, freeing up more time for administrators.

In addition to its payroll offering, the company has also rebuilt its time-off and time and attendance apps. The former has a redesigned dashboard for administrators while also including a new overview page for time off. Paid time off (PTO) hours are also now categorized (e.g. vacation, sick leave, and personal leave). The latter is geared towards hourly rate employees, such as those who work in coffee shops, design studios, and gyms. Zenefits has added several new features, including project codes, meal breaks, time entry auto-save, and the ability to clock in and out using the Zenefits mobile app.

Zenefits Payroll costs $35 per month and $5 per month per employee.

But payroll isn’t the only thing that Zenefits is releasing, as there’s now a product customers can use to intelligently select benefits for their employees. Following on the heels of Gusto’s launch of health benefits, Zenefits now offers a option to sort through medical, dental, disability, and life insurance plans. Caspar Yen, director of product management, explained that it’s a “very complicated industry, one that’s slow, hard, and manual. It’s not a very good experience for employees and administrators. When you file the actual insurance application, it’s manual and paper based.”

Zenefits now lets administrators create benefit packages without needing to go through brokers.

Above: Zenefits now lets administrators create benefit packages without needing to go through brokers.

Image Credit: Zenefits

We’ve heard this story before: Administrators go through brokers who in turn provide paper documents that benefit administrators need to parse through to determine which choices are best for their colleagues. Zenefits’ product cuts through the middleman, working with 250 licensed brokers in 48 states and 250 carriers to make life easier. The company says that it’s bringing a modern shopping experience to looking for benefits.

Through this benefits product, administrators can establish filters to determine the right plan for their company. Plans can be chosen based on premium, deductible limits, plan type, and other criteria. Once an initial plan is chosen, Zenefits will filter out those options that aren’t compatible due to regulatory and other rules — this is something most administrators may not know to do. Clicking on the respective plan will display attributes along with any definitions, if needed. Recognizing the complexity of the benefits game, Zenefits said that it’s structured the data in a way that makes it easy to compare different policies.

To ensure that it has the best selection of plans, Yen stated that all groups and plans are vetted by local brokers to provide the best information for companies in individual states and regions.

Zenefits includes a network coverage map so administrators can see whether employees are covered by benefit plans.

Above: Zenefits includes a network coverage map so administrators can see whether employees are covered by benefit plans.

Image Credit: Zenefits

But selecting benefits isn’t enough if you’re not sure that there’s a provider near your employees. Zenefits also includes a coverage map using data gleaned from networks, doctors, and other sources. The map highlights where employees live based on data from — where else? — Zenefits, and the saturation of health care professionals, hospitals, clinics, and specialists near them. Yen said that this data is refreshed on a daily basis.

“Similar to how services like Zillow and Trulia revolutionized the search and discovery of homes, Zenefits is revolutionizing how small businesses shop for benefits, bringing greater choice, speed and transparency to the process,” said Arisa Amano, the company’s vice president of product. “Our new benefits shopping and enrollment experience is a great example of what is only possible when everything is part of an all-in-one, online system.”

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