This is the last part of a five-part series. Check out the others here:
- How M.U.D. Improved Performance Appraisals With SuccessFactors
- How CLEARLINK Improved Employee Training With Bridge LMS
- How Kimberton Whole Foods Improved Its Onboarding Process With PeopleMatter
- How FuelCell Energy Improved Compensation Planning and Transparency With Halogen
For the final installment in our employee engagement series, we spoke with Travis Johnson, founder and CEO at foodjunky.com: an order-processing and food concierge service for corporate lunch eaters.
The restrictions of HealthCare.gov caused significant administrative and personal challenges for Johnson. Now, through Zenefits, he can improve benefits that employees receive, and easily explain how those choices affect their bottom line. The result? Fewer administrative headaches for Johnson, and improved employee morale for his workers.
“I have an employee [who] tended to be concerned about their … insurance, and didn’t really understand the whole benefits process. That employee said going through [Zenefits is] simpler, and it took a lot of the worry off of their backs. They can continue to do their job without being concerned about going to the doctor and wondering how it’s all going to be paid for.”
Travis Johnson, CEO, foodjunky.com
Q: How did the idea for foodjunky come about?
[At my previous job,] we had pizza, deep-dish Chicago pizza, catered to the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I did that for 10 years, and I don’t really want to look at or smell deep-dish pizza anymore. So I came up with a group feature … where you select a local restaurant and put everyone’s email address in, which allows all of your employees to select exactly what they want. Even if you choose a pizza place, [someone] can order a sandwich or a salad.
Q: When did you start the company?
In the current iteration, we started in January of last year.
Q: How many employees do you have?
Right around 10.
Q: Do you have anyone dedicated to HR?
We don’t have anyone 100 percent dedicated to human resources, no.
Q: Before you decided to improve benefits with Zenefits software, were you offering benefits to your employees?
Yes, we were. We initially went through HealthCare.gov, and if you want me to go off on a 30-minute tangent on how much I hate HealthCare.gov, I am more than willing to do that.
Q: You didn’t want to go through the exchange?
I wanted to offer insurance, so I tried to call up UnitedHealthcare. I tried to call up Blue Cross Blue Shield to get benefits directly, and I was unable to. I had to go through the exchange.
Q: What was your experience like with HealthCare.gov?
Clicking the logo for HealthCare.gov brings up an “error 404” page, instead of bringing you to the home page. The selection process for trying to select your insurance is totally crazy. When we started, … the insurance package never even made it to Blue Cross Blue Shield [foodjunky’s initial insurance provider]. When you call up HealthCare.gov, they can’t confirm that [they failed to send it], but you can call Blue Cross Blue Shield and they’ll say they didn’t receive it. That was a headache.
I finally did get insurance for the group, but then we changed over from an LLC to an INC for our latest round of financing, and we lost our benefits. We had more employees at that time, but we didn’t have a high enough percentage of people opting-in for insurance, so we did not qualify for insurance anymore from HealthCare.gov.
Q: So what did you do?
If I wasn’t also in the plan, then we wouldn’t have a high enough percentage of people opted-in to qualify—so I had to opt-in just so I could make sure I could offer insurance to my employees. It ended up costing me, personally, more money out of pocket, because I could’ve gotten it cheaper on my own.
Q: You offer health, dental and vision insurance, correct?
Yeah, those are our insurance plans. We also offer a matching health savings account [HSA].
Q: What was your opinion on the choice that was available through HealthCare.gov?
After we converted over to an INC, the only insurance company that would take us, given our percentage [of employees opted-in to insurance], was UnitedHealthcare. Our options were extremely limited [in terms of packages].
Q: What was the employee sentiment at this time about their benefits?
They didn’t understand any of it. You hand them 50 pages of documents and they have no idea what any of it means: “Is this coming out pre-tax or post-tax? What’s it going to mean to my income? How do I do these calculations?”
I had to … sit down with each of my employees and go through one-by-one, saying, “if you do this plan, here’s the calculation, and this is what it’s going to do to your income.”
Q: So they didn’t have any sort of self-service option to check on this information themselves?
No, it had to be relayed through me.
Q: Was there a “straw that broke the camel’s back” that led to the decision to look at software?
It was me spending half of my day on paperwork to onboard a new employee. I was done with it.
Q: What made you decide on Zenefits?
I was looking for a solution that was going to automate the onboarding process and make it so that employees could manage their own insurance. They were the only package that was a full suite that I could find. That was about three months ago. [We went live] in a little over 30 days, with very little interaction from me.
Q: You’re doing payroll, benefits and onboarding through Zenefits, correct? Anything else?
Also personnel time-tracking. So, yeah, pretty much everything.
Q: So what do the onboarding and benefits enrollment processes look like now, through Zenefits?
It’s all completely automated. A candidate gets an email with an offer letter, [then] they create a Zenefits account on a foodjunky portal. If they accept the offer, they go through an entire digital signature workflow to sign our non-disclosure agreement, work-for-hire agreement, drug testing agreement—all of those fun things. Then they get to select whether or not they want insurance, and choose from what we offer. When you do select benefits, you just click on the options that you want, and you’ll see exactly what that’s going to do to your pay.
If you didn’t select benefits when you first got hired, Zenefits automatically emails you to remind you that you have a certain amount of time to select benefits before you’re no longer eligible. [Zenefits] automatically enrolls you, and you’re set on the 31st day of employment.
Q: Now, if employees have questions about their benefits, they can log in to Zenefits and find out for themselves?
Exactly, and they can also make changes. So for HSAs, if they want to update and say, “I want to put away $50 instead of $25 every pay period,” they can do that right in Zenefits. [The software] does a very good job in laying out what everything means, so that you can easily understand what the difference is between different packages.
Q: Have you seen any changes in candidate attraction or engagement as a result of the switch?
I can say that, previous to Zenefits, our acceptance rate for job offers was 50 percent. Post-Zenefits, it has been 100 percent so far.
Q: And you think the change directly affected that?
It’s a combination of the switch, which has automated the system and makes foodjunky a lot more efficient, [and] also having a more full benefits package [through Zenefits].
Q: Would you say employees are happier about their benefits now?
Yes, definitely. I’ve got one story: I have an employee [who] tended to be concerned about their … insurance, and didn’t really understand the whole benefits process. That employee said going through [Zenefits] … took a lot of the worry off of their backs. They can continue to do their job, without being concerned about going to the doctor and wondering how it’s all going to be paid for.