Ben Mueller

Ben Mueller

Ben Mueller is a Content Writer at Namely, the HR, payroll, and benefits platform built for today's employees. Connect with Ben and the Namely team on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Recent Articles


HR's Post-Open Enrollment Checklist for the New Year

With open enrollment in (or almost in) the rear-view mirror, it may seem like a good time to sit back and relax before the new year ramps up. You’ve sent all of the necessary files to your carrier, and your employees have their ID cards in hand, but the process isn’t over just yet. Seasoned HR professionals know that the end of open enrollment is a critical time to get your benefits strategy in order before the new year.

Take time to look back on your benefits process and ask yourself a few questions. Did employees clearly understand their coverage options during open enrollment? How easy was it for employees to complete the actual enrollment process? Is anything changing this year for new hire enrollment, life events, or COBRA administration? 

It may sound overwhelming, but this process is essential to ensuring ongoing success in the future year and beyond. Follow these five steps to make sure you're prepared for any situations the new year might bring. 

1. Schedule a Debrief With Your Broker

Once the enrollment period is over, set up some time with your broker to talk through what went well and what could have been better. Compare what employee engagement is like with the new plans vs. old ones, and whether each plan's features were communicated clearly in advance. Finally, do a cost analysis of benefits year-over-year ahead of your first bill. 

In tandem, survey employees about the open enrollment process. Half the battle is communicating your offering in an digestible way. Did they understand all of the options presented to them? Did they have enough time to enroll? “Start laying the groundwork for an effective employee engagement strategy around benefits for the new year,” says Rob LaHayne, CEO of TouchCare. Ask them while it's fresh so you can start making plans to revamp your open enrollment guide or offer more resources to fill the gaps.

2. Audit Your First Bill

Once you receive your first carrier bill, it's time to dig into the details. “Take the post-enrollment data file you received from your provider and check that the carrier’s bill is accurate compared to what you submitted,” advises LaHayne. Take the time to go line item by line item and ensure everything is accounted for. While it may seem tedious, digging into your bill is important to ensure that everything is as it should be.

3. Set Quarterly Meetings With Your Broker.

Keep the conversation going all year to stay in tune with trends and utilization. “The goal is that you’re always working towards that next renewal,” LaHayne says. “The first quarterly meeting might just be discussing new ideas on wellness strategies or new regulatory information to be aware of. For subsequent quarterly meetings, dive deeper into the claims data from your carrier.” Once you reach Q3, you should be well prepared to map out the year's open enrollment strategy.


4. Review Process for Qualifying Life Events

Inevitably over the course of the next year, you're bound to see a steady flow of new employees hired, employees who leave the company, and a fair share of weddings. Make sure you're prepared for the full spectrum of qualifying life events.

If you have just completed your first open enrollment with a new broker, it’s especially important to review your process for handling COBRA to temporarily extend employee coverage in the face of a termination or change in employment status. If you are unsure of your process, contact your broker to learn key requirements and deadlines.

In addition, create a solid checklist for new hire enrollment. Be sure new employees have access to all of the information they need, preferably in similar detail and fashion to the company-wide open enrollment experience.

Finally, remind employees of the importance of communicating life events to HR. “Make sure your employees know what the reporting process is for when they get married or have a baby—who to contact and what to expect,” says LaHayne.

5. Continue Communication With Employees

Lastly, employees may not remember some of their benefits changes when the time comes to actually use themsuch as employees newly enrolled in high deductible health plans. Send a reminder to summarize what to expect when it comes to premiums, deductibles, and paycheck deductions.


What Makes for a Good Employee Goal?

How cool would it be if every time an employee goal was met, an enormous cry of “GOOOAAALLL!” erupted through the office? Unfortunately, our offices aren’t stadiums, and not all goals are winners. Goals can be useless to employees—not because they’re poor workers, but because the goals themselves are poorly designed.


The right goals hold your employees accountable, give them direction, and motivate them to meet—and even surpass—expectations. Creating, measuring, and executing on goals must be spot-on for your employees to get the most out of them and to set them up for success. But, how do you create a goal that is challenging, but still attainable? When it comes to putting together great employee objectives, keep these factors in mind.


1. Be Transparent

In order to be effective, goals have to be public. This not only holds every individual accountable, but also let's the entire company know what an employee is reaching for. That way, it’s easier for him or her to feel the weight of responsibility.


The question is how to let the company know. The easiest way is to implement this is with a self-serve online solution that lets employees set their goals and lets the whole company access them. Everyone from the associate level to the C-suite can share what they expect to accomplish in the month/quarter/year and view anyone else's goal.


2. Align with Company Goals

It's important for employees' goals to derive directly from team and organizational goals. Cascading goals help employee's understand how their day-to-day duties contribute to overall business success. This can improve employee job satisfaction and increase understanding of your company's mission and business strategy. 


3. Revisit Goals—Often

Your business and team is constantly evolving. Changing teams, job responsibilities, or business landscapes can make what seemed reasonable three months ago, out of date today. A bi-weekly check-in with peers might be enough for an employees to hit targets, but some teams and individuals might need to revisit them more often to make sure they're on track or to update them to reflect the current workplace climate.

Is it time for a performance review checkup? Check out these 8 tips that will take your performance management process to the next level.


4. Be Specific

The best goals are specific and measurable. Encourage employees to make their goals simple, direct, and smart. Use the acronym "SMART" to help guide your employee's goal creation:


Instead of “improve hiring practices," a better employee goal is “decrease time-to-hire by 20 percent in Q1.” The latter goal is more tangible and your employee will be able to measure the success of their efforts at the end of the goal period. 


5. Aim High

Goals have to be challenging, but attainable. Goals that are too ambitious can actually backfire and dishearten employees. If they believe their goals set the bar too high, they can lose motivation and this can hurt productivity. When setting an employees goals, you need to ensure they are a realistic stretch. Use data from past performance to set realistic expectations. If an employee blew past their goals in a previous period, try setting the bar a little higher this time. Every individual will be different and should be held to their own performance standards. Once healthy goals have been set, that’s when it’s your job to run right beside them and make sure they keep up all that fancy footwork. 



Once your employees have created effective goals, it's your job to support them and ensure they're on track to meet them. The next step? Celebrating success! Be sure to recognize your employees who meet and exceed their goals. Show how much your team and organization appreciates their contributions and keep your top-performers engaged and happy. 


Are You Promoting for the Right Reasons?

Promotions are an upgrade for everyone in your organization—when done right. They’re excellent employee encouragement, the kind that really makes people stick around. They’re also a symbol of upward mobility to all workers. Finally, they save you money on an external hire, both in hiring costs and salary (external hires are paid about 18-20% more than internal workers for the same job).


So, why is it that four out of 10 newly promoted managers and executives fail within the first 18 months of their new positions?


It could be because your company is promoting for the wrong reason. Double check your decision making against these five reasons that should never be the only ones when planning an employee’s next step forward.


1. The employee is a friend

Workplace friendships happen, but they can sometimes cloud your judgement. People are more likely to hire someone they have more in common with—a decision influenced by similar-to-me bias. You’re human, so workplace friends may be top of mind when a new departmental position does open up. But are they really the right fit?


Be aware of this unconscious bias. Always first look for skills before promoting, just as you would when filling any new position. Make sure you promote someone based on their performance and what they bring to the table, not based on what you think of them or who you would want to grab a beer with after work


2. They’re likely to quit otherwise

If an employee has one foot out the door, we all know there are larger issues at play that a raise and more job responsibilities aren’t likely to fix. What’s tricky is that high performers do need opportunities for career development. One of the top reasons employees change jobs is because they see little to no opportunity for growth, development, and advancement within their current roles. 

What you you need to avoid is using a promotion as a last-ditch bargaining chip. Instead, start talking career path early on with your high performers. Train managers to discuss employee goals and their professional interests often, not just during annual reviews. Your HR team can leverage stay interviews to understand if other factors are affecting employee happiness and causing employees to seek opportunities elsewhere. 


The 7 Biggest Promotion Mistakes


3. You need to fill the position quickly

So you needed that open position filled… yesterday. In today’s competitive hiring market, it seems promotions are happening faster and faster. Employee expectations are changing too. A recent survey from InsideOut Development revealed that more than 75 percent of Gen Z respondents believe they should be promoted in their first year and 32 percent believe they deserve a promotion within the first six months of working.


But promoting employees too early can backfire. A premature promotion can set an employee up for failure. Inexperience, lack of leadership training, and gaps in industry knowledge can cause new managers to become overwhelmed, work longer hours, and be more stressed. Wait until an employee has the skills and bandwidth for a new role before moving them to the next level. 


4. They’ve worked at the company for a long time

Jeff Haden of Inc. doesn’t call promoting on seniority a bad idea. He says it’s a terrible solution. Promoting the most senior employee is a simple solve that shortens the decision-making process on your end, he says. But, you also completely avoid telling other employees why they may not have been selected for the role. That’s a recipe for resentment.


Again, skills need to be front and center. Why shouldn’t the more recently hired, eager up-and-comer snag a new role if their work output is better? His or her promotion can encourage all employees to step up their game.


5. They seem bored in their current position

Similar to the likely-to-quit employee, the disengaged employee is a larger company issue. A promotion is likely only a bandaid solution. Worst of all, disengagement can continue in the employee’s more important role.


A disengaged employee doesn't make for a good leader and productive contributor. If your best talent is bored, a chat is in order. If their energy does turn around, then maybe they will soon be the internal leader you’re looking for.



Promotions aren't the only way to keep employees happy and engaged. Learning and development programs, passion projects, cross-departmental collaboration, and flexible scheduling might be all your employees need to spark motivation. While a promotion can help employees feel valued and appreciated, make sure you're promoting for the right reasons at the right time.


Need more help deciding if your employee is ready for the next step in their career? Read our "7 Biggest Promotion Mistakes" guide for even more commonly made mistakes to avoid.


Q&A with Nick Sanchez, Namely's Chief People Officer

Nick Sanchez, the new Chief People Officer at Namely, found an introduction to the power of human resources in a place you might not expect—the Olive Garden Restaurant. During his time studying at UCLA and working there, it was the first time he truly understood that working conditions, career mobility, perks, and so much more were largely influenced by the restaurant’s leaders and HR team. “This was my true introduction to the concepts of occupational psychology and HR,” he says.

It was enough to spawn a lifelong interest in HR—an interest that brought Sanchez to LinkedIn as a Senior HR Business Partner, Trulia as their Director of HR and Talent Acquisition, and then to LendingHome as their VP of People Ops. 17 years into his career in human resources, Sanchez found Namely.

We spoke with the company’s first CPO about his first priorities, what drew him to the company, and technology’s power to make workplaces everywhere more human.


You’ve worked just about every position to be had in HR, from manager to director to business partner. What personal qualities do you think make for a successful HR professional?

I still work every day to be a successful HR professional, but I can definitely share the first two things that come to mind: being present—in the moment and in employees’ day-to-day—and evolving as an HR professional and person.  


What are the biggest challenges in managing human resources for a growing mid-sized company? What strategies are the most important?

One of the biggest challenges is working to achieve operational excellence in the People Operations function—that is, following through on forward-thinking strategies in an efficient way and partnering with leaders to scale their teams and achieve success.  Personally, the strategy I find most important is one I learned from Elizabeth Brown, a mentor and friend: Execute early and communicate often.


What originally attracted you to Namely as a company?

For me, it was the product and the kindness of the team. There is a tremendous need for HR software built in a friendly but powerful way, and I am really happy to be a part of bringing Namely to more teams across the country.  And, the people at Namely are kind—they look out for each other and work together to push for the same goals. That’s important to me.    


What are your first priorities as Namely’s new Chief People Officer?

First and foremost, every HR leader needs to make operational excellence a first priority. Growing up in HR, we often hear that we need to “get a seat at the table” or “be a strategic partner,” etc. But in reality, we first need to be incredibly strong HR operators—nail payroll processing, provide great employee benefits, and hire effectively for our culture.  Building a strong HR foundation provides an opportunity to scale impact across the company.  


What information about a company and its people is most important to gather when first taking on a role like CPO?

I think it’s very important to start with the product along with a deep understanding of the business and strategy. That informs our people practices, and it’s really the first step to understanding how to best support employees across the company.  


Could you speak a little bit about compliance? This year, we’ve seen a historic pace of pro-employee regulation, with a great deal of new compliance requirements for mid-sized companies in particular.

Compliance is about understanding and carrying a curiosity for the laws and regulations which were created to protect employees. While these regulations may have financial impact and administrative impact for companies, the spirit of the regulations often help companies remain accountable for keeping the employee’s best interest in mind when making important employment and business decisions.


In what ways do you like to encourage employee development?

I start by helping set up managers to be effective partners to employees in their professional development. I also ensure there is a Head of Learning and Development who both genuinely cares about employee development and is data-driven.


Where would you like to see Namely in five years?

I would like to see a world where technology decommoditizes, rather than commoditizes, employees—workplaces that are made more human through technology. Namely can do that. It can empower employees everywhere to do their best work, at scale.


2016 Is the Year of HR Compliance—Here’s Why

It’s undeniable: this year is shaping up to be one of the most groundbreaking—even tumultuous—years for new workplace legislation in recent memory. While it feels like there may be too many new laws to count, Namely’s new report, The Pro-Employee Tide: Trends in HR Compliance, collects original research and commentary on the four most important HR compliance trends for professionals to keep abreast of this year, featuring analysis from Namely’s new VP, Legal & Compliance, Manuel Martinez-Herrera.


But don’t take our word for it. Instead, take a look at four statistics from this year:


The DOL estimates that over 70 percent of employers are in violation of the existing overtime rules.


Effective this December, the increase to the threshold for overtime exemption has the potential to impact the wages of 12.5 million workers.


2020 will be the first time in history that any state will have a minimum wage that is double the federal minimum.


The country is seeing an unprecedented rise in state minimum wages. The highest minimum wage is now $11.50—$4.25 higher than the federal minimum.


In the last year alone, a total of 18 states and several dozen major US cities have actively looked to adopt or revise paid leave laws.


After a slow start, paid leave is undoubtedly gaining steam at the state and city level.


Today, over 185 million people—well over half of the entire U.S. population—now live in a jurisdiction where criminal background checks are restricted.


With bipartisan support and momentum from last year, you can expect to see “ban the box” laws continue to pass across the country.


For a closer look at the four major trends every HR professional should be aware of this year, download the full Namely report, The Pro-Employee Tide: Trends in HR Compliance.


Doubling Down on Compliance

It’s never been more important for mid-size companies to partner with an HR platform that helps them stay compliant with every-changing labor laws. As part of Namely’s own continued investment in compliance, we are thrilled to announce the hire of Manuel Martinez-Herrera as VP, Legal & Compliance. In his new role, he’ll be helping to ensure Namely’s technology, operations, and service continue to meet compliance standards as regulations evolve.


Manuel shares his analysis of the most recent workplace legislation in Namely’s new research report. It’s everything HR professionals need to know to navigate this year’s changing regulatory landscape, plus a look ahead to what the future holds.


Namely has also scaled its own organization, and new Chief People Officer Nick Sanchez joins our company as our 300th employee. Nick brings 17 years of experience leading HR teams in technology, retail, and real estate companies. He will build Namely’s internal HR processes to support the next phase of our company’s growth, lead recruiting efforts, and contribute HR expertise to product development. Stay tuned for a Q&A with Nick on the Namely Blog later this week where we take a look at his first priorities as CPO and his strategies on employee development.

With state of the art HR technology and thoughtful professionals to help you get through more than just the day-to-day, HR compliance won’t make 2016 a scary year for your company. Instead, it’ll be the year you and all of your people get to the next level.

For all the key takeaways from 2016's historic rule changes, download our full midyear compliance report today!



How CSD & Namely Are Making Work Better for the Deaf

Many organizations and HR departments consider “diversity and inclusion” a point of improvement in their own workforces—a pillar of strategic HR to be improved and achieved. And then some organizations have diversity and inclusion built right into their products and services, and therefore the DNA of their org.


It’s hard to find a more incredible example of such an organization than Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), the largest nonprofit in the world managed predominantly by deaf and hard of hearing professionals.


Employing about 720 people around the world, the over 40-year-old organization doesn’t look at “inclusion” as a buzzword. It’s a mission they have for HR departments and companies everywhere. We share a similar ethos here at Namely: We’re here to help mid-sized companies build better workplaces for everyone—and communicate better together. We’re proud to be CSD’s HR platform, and we’re even prouder to contribute to their latest initiative: CSD Neighborhood.

Members of CSD share a laugh with a community member at the CSD@40 Expo, hosted last spring in Washington, D.C.

Members of CSD share a laugh with a community member at the CSD@40 Expo, hosted last spring in Washington, D.C. Photo by CSD.


Fighting Misconceptions

70% of the deaf and hard of hearing are unemployed or underemployed—a shocking statistic. “One factor is attitudes and misconceptions,” says Ryan Hutchison, Vice President of CSD Neighborhood. “Not many people have a level of familiarity with deaf people that goes beyond stereotypes.” Additionally, Hutchison mentions the lack of understanding around how to provide accommodations that support the needs of deaf employees. “Taken together, there’s a lot of uncertainty. Employers are unsure what to expect when hiring deaf and hard of hearing employees, and deaf and hard of hearing individuals have grown wary of discrimination and barriers in the workplace.”


It’s those exact barriers that CSD’s services can remove. CSD offers recruiting and hiring support, translation of employee training and onboarding materials into American Sign Language (ASL), and training services for creating more inclusive and accessible workplaces. Thanks to CSD, a deaf employee can easily book a sign language interpreter for a video conference call. Deaf employees can get job-specific training through visual resources. And companies can find out how to better cater to this underserved, highly skilled candidate pool.


“One step for organizations is to recognize that deaf and hard of hearing individuals want to work, and have every ability to become tremendous contributors to the workplace,” says Hutchison. “Deaf individuals are capable of succeeding in virtually every workplace imaginable. There are deaf-owned restaurants and businesses, deaf and hard of hearing attorneys who have been sworn in to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, and deaf actors and actresses who have graced the stage on Broadway.” In fact, Hutchison mentions that half the cast of the recent Tony-nominated Broadway stage play Spring Awakening were deaf or hard of hearing.


CSD’s Brian Jensen presents to the CSD team.

CSD’s Brian Jensen presents to the CSD team. Photo by CSD.

Going National

CSD also has a host of broad and community-based programs and services, so their mission can extend across the country. The nonprofit calls them Neighborhood programs and has recently launched three: CSD Works, CSD Learns, and CSD Unites. “All three blend technology and culturally-competent services to address significant issues facing the national deaf and hard of hearing community today,” says Hutchison.


The organization’s first CSD Unites campaign, #WhoWillAnswer, was the first ever coalition to create a 24-hour ASL-based hotline for deaf survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault (DVSA). One in two deaf women and one in six deaf men will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime—yet only 15 out of over 3,000 DVSA providers in the U.S. deliver services to deaf survivors in ASL.


The campaign has already united 15 deaf DVSA organizations in support of the effort. Namely is among the companies that have donated to the CSD Neighborhood program, and you too can support the creation of amazing projects like #WhoWillAnswer. “We’re already looking towards our next CSD Unites campaign to engage and mobilize our community towards solving critical challenges,” says Hutchison, “but we need the support and partnership of national leaders like Namely who like us believe resilient and sustainable communities make America stronger.”


Putting Communication First

How does CSD’s mission-based work affect the nonprofit’s human resources? “CSD’s hiring philosophy is a bit unique in that we’re an organization of, by, and for the deaf community,” says Jonathan Pecora, Vice President of Talent and Culture at CSD. “We fully engage the deaf community in our recruiting efforts with many of our positions being internal referrals.”


The nonprofit reports that the CSD administrative team is about 50% deaf and 50% hearing, and the executive team is 80% deaf with only one out of five being hearing. Furthermore, CSD’s leadership team is 11 deaf and 6 hearing with most of those who are hearing being fully competent in sign language. Employee engagement is high on CSD’s list of priorities, with a goal of increasing engagement by 15% come June of next year. “Connecting our employees with our mission, vision, values, and goals as a company remains a high priority for us,” says Pecora.


CSD recently implemented Namely as their HR platform to further help their organization communicate better together. This summer, CSD announced plans to transition their administrative team to a virtual workforce to empower employees to work wherever and whenever they want. “It’s became very important for us to choose an HR platform that would not just permit, but enhance our employment experience, particularly when we won’t all be working in the same place,” says Pecora. “Namely does this for us, and given that communication is the first word in our name, it seemed fitting to choose a tool that puts communication first.”


Communication is, in fact, at the heart of everything CSD does. Communicating the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing to the world, enabling companies to better communicate with that population, and creating an organization that is a shining example of how easy workplace communication can be. Now that the message is out, it’s time for companies everywhere to answer.


To contribute to CSD Neighborhood and support workplace inclusion for the deaf, read more on


Our Favorite Moments from #SHRM16

It was an amazing week for the Namely team out in Washington D.C. at this year’s SHRM Annual Conference! A huge thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth—including our clients for chatting about why they love Namely—plus all of the great conference speakers for presenting another excellent year of content.


This year's event offered several insights into the priorities for today's human resources, from defining a solid employer value proposition to putting new employee recognition strategies to work. Of course, like every year, a lot of the conversation occurred off the stage—on Twitter. We’ve collected some of our favorite moments from the conference in the tweets below for your sharing pleasure.


See if we spotted your favorite quote, and if not, send your pick to @NamelyHR!

Day One


The first day of the conference kicked off with a bang with an opening keynote from Alan Mulally, former CEO of the Ford Motor Company, and Mike Rowe, the American TV host. Their positive messages reverberated throughout the day: Great leaders are those who inspire engagement—and don't forget to look for the quiet heroes who are in love with your company.

Day Two

Amy Cuddy, professor at the Harvard Business School and New York Times bestselling author, was certainly a social media favorite for Day Two. Her session on using body language and presence to unlock personal power in your career left many attendees striking their own power poses.

Day Three

#SHRM16's third day brought Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala's political point/counterpoint session to remind us that both sides of the aisle can in fact get along. Remembering to thoughtfully and empathetically approach those with different viewpoints than your own was a great theme for political discourse and the workplace alike.

Day Four

It's always sad to say goodbye, but the final day of #SHRM16 still had Sal Khan's session for everyone to enjoy. Another Twitter favorite, attendees were moved by his story of how the not-for-profit Khan Academy is fulfilling its vision of bringing education to the world. The undeniable power of a meaningful company mission was the perfect morsel to hold HR professionals over until next year. We'll see you then!



How TSheets Empowered Culture With HR Tech

It’s tricky to describe the company culture at TSheets—the fast-growing time tracking software startup—because frankly, it’s pretty unique. The company, now over 120 employees, has doubled business for each of the past three years—but that’s where the Silicon Valley stereotype starts to fade. TSheets is based in the heart of Idaho, and a can of PBR labeled with the TSheets company values awaits every new hire. They’re a tech company with high software standards—who also enjoy heading out to see professional bull riding.


So when it came to choosing an HR software, TSheets needed a partner that would 100% mesh with their culture. “We can’t afford having negative energy permeating the team,” says Amy Bailey, VP of Finance at TSheets. Amy manages Finance, HR and Facilities for TSheets. She explains that TSheets is the kind of company where coworkers have no issue friending each other on Facebook. “It’s not a big deal!” says Amy. “We just felt like we were on the same wavelength with Namely.”


“We have a very collaborative environment, and we love the personal touch from Namely. We love having one contact,” she says. But there was more to TSheets’ decision to go with Namely than cultural alignment. Like many companies, it started with getting sick and tired of too much HR paperwork.

A TSheets 5K fun run this year raised $2,000 for a local charity.

A TSheets 5K fun run this year raised $2,000 for a local charity. Photo by TSheets.

Paperwork Be Gone

TSheets was originally handling HR administration using several point solutions: a PEO, a separate broker, and no central HR technology. “Because of that, absolutely any change we made to payroll was paper-based, and it was painful,” says Amy. Salary changes meant filling out individual paper forms, signing them, and sending them back to the PEO. “When we were a really small company that was okay, but we just really outgrew all that. We hit a point with our employee base where it was time to automate,” says Amy.


Employee benefits was an even bigger pain. All health care applications were filled out manually. “It was a lot of email, a lot of paper, a lot of scans,” says Amy. “A lot of follow-up,” says Aly Steele, Controller at TSheets. Even when it came time to transition, the PEO didn’t even have all employee paperwork on file. “It was so inefficient,” says Amy.

A graph showing the challenge, solution and results of the TSheets HR department.

Above, see how TSheets mapped HR technology to its needs as both a company and a culture. Chart by Namely.

Enough was enough when TSheets decided to work with Namely. Immediately, their benefits administration became easier and automated thanks to a paperless process. “We’re a tech company, so everyone expects everything to be electronic,” says Amy. “Previously, we didn’t really go through any of the benefits information until somebody started. Now they have an online tool to get to benefits information right up front.” Furthermore, as TSheets continues growing their employee population, they now have the opportunity to grow employee benefits, too. “We’re constantly looking to improve benefits. As the business grows, we have more options with Namely.”


TSheets began working with Namely in November, and they were right on time for their first payroll in January. Their benefits deductions are all automatic—no clumsy paper trail necessary—and salary changes are made in a few clicks. “Managers now have an online tool to get to compensation information which they didn’t have before. It’s seamless for employees,” says Amy.

Some sweet treats enjoyed at the TSheets 10-year anniversary celebration.

Some sweet treats enjoyed at the TSheets 10-year anniversary celebration. Photo by TSheets.


Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Given how personable and well-connected the TSheets company culture is, they knew they would need a personable partner. Aly describes the service from Namely in just two words: “Very proactive.” “We love our Namely Support Consultant,” adds Amy. For instance, when the team needed to make improvements to onboarding, they knew exactly who to call. “He knows our business, he’s talked to us 1000 times before,” says Amy. “We’ve had a great experience.”


Once we found ourselves working so well together, Namely and TSheets built an integration, too. In light of the DOL’s new overtime rules, good recordkeeping and time tracking are more important than ever. With Namely and TSheets, you can track hours and manage all your HR with modern, integrated software employees love to use. “It’s really easy for us to export our time out of TSheets and into Namely,” says Amy.


TSheets is a thriving, growing company. They recently celebrated a 10-year anniversary, and they’re getting ready to move into a brand new building within the next year. “We have a very active workforce,” says Amy. A TSheets 5K fun run in April raised $2,000 for a local charity, and a recent all-company golf outing gave everyone the opportunity for healthy competition and good old-fashioned fun. And yes, around the time the company hits 150 employees, you’ll be able to spot the gang at professional bull riding.

It can seem daunting to keep up with the needs of a mid-size company. But with more efficient HR processes, rich benefits plans for a growing employee population, and technology aligned with the company’s core values, Namely is there to support TSheets every step of the way.  “It can be a little overwhelming to keep up with sometimes,” says Amy, “but it’s always fun.”


The Key to Employee Engagement Is Easier Than You Think

Brace yourself: It’s time to discuss one theme in human resources that causes many to shudder—if not from anxiety than perhaps sheer buzzwordyness. Employee engagement.


Wait! Before you navigate away, hear us out. HR still can’t seem to crack the often cited #1 concern and priority of all human resources, and a quick glance at the #SHRM16 concurrent sessions proves that the conversation is still hot. But we’re pleased to announce some new data that suggests engaging employees in a healthy workplace culture is much more straightforward for HR than we all may have thought.


George LaRocque sets out to investigate many questions in his new #HRWINS executive brief, "Where Purpose Meets Performance, Can HR Tech Solve Culture?" sponsored by Namely. Among them: What is the recipe for a healthy company culture? And where does HR technology fit in to that ingredient list? Of course, to quote George, “It’s difficult to research, write about, or discuss culture without the topic of employee engagement entering the picture.” So what role does engagement play?


After surveying 600 employees and HR professionals from companies with fewer than 5,000 employees, it was revealed that:


      54.7% of respondents said that meaningful work with a purpose is the factor that most impacts their feeling of engagement in their work.

      54.3% of respondents chose core benefits—health insurance and PTO—as the perk or benefit that contributes most to the feeling of engagement.


In no uncertain terms, HR needs to go back to basics—providing employees with work they can be passionate about in addition to core benefits—if they want their people to stay engaged. It’s time to step away from the ping-pong table, put down your third free snack for the day, and get back to the core elements of engagement. Because the survey findings have several important implications:


Finance departments are not making employee engagement a top priority—they’re focused instead on core HR technology and benefits.


In order to invest in the core benefits engaged employees actually want, HR needs to work in tandem with their company’s Finance department. But, according to the #HRWins survey, only 37% of respondents characterized Finance’s priority level on measuring employee engagement, satisfaction, or happiness as a priority or significant priority. Furthermore, 58% of respondents said there was no strategy in place for measuring employee engagement with metrics.


It has always been difficult for HR to draw a clear line between employee engagement and business results, so these particular survey findings may not shock many. But as for the takeaway: HR should invest in core HR initiatives—not pulse surveys or more perks—and set aside the proper time and strategy to get Finance onboard. Fortunately, when surveyed, 60% mid-sized employers believe “benefits and paid time off” have the highest ROI of all employee perks, well above rewards programs, team outings, office environment, snacks, and recognition. So it should be easier to sell Finance on a new HSA program than a new arcade cabinet.


Employee engagement isn’t the outcome of a healthy company culture. It’s one factor, like successful talent management and employee experience, that goes into it.


Professionals who gauge the health of company culture by measuring engagement in surveys may end up chasing their tails. “Normally measured on an annual basis,” LaRocque writes, “it represents a point in time measurement. Considering the pace of business cycles today, as well as the myriad factors that can impact one’s ‘feeling’ of engagement, engagement measurement alone has failed to do much more than put a finer point on an already identified problem.”


HR is in need of a refocus. By looking instead to core benefits and the meaning employees find in their work every day, companies can better track direct investments in employee engagement—before they get to the end of tracing it in a pulse survey. Employee engagement is not the end itself: It is the means to your end. The means to a healthy company culture.


Company culture is just as important as it ever was. Unlocking meaning across three levels in your company will result in more employee engagement.


Finally, what can we make of that first statistic involving “meaningful work”? “Engaging company cultures may be just what today’s businesses need to thrive,” writes LaRocque. Data in the report backs up the claim: 53% of survey respondents said they would choose meaningful work with less pay over less meaningful work with higher pay. In some age groups, as many as 63% selected the same.


Then, how can HR impact or invest in each individual employee’s “meaningful work” at a company? It’s useful to look at the meaning employees find in their jobs at three levels: the company level, the department level, and the individual level.


First, the company. “Every organization has meaning and purpose,” writes LaRocque. “However, it’s a well-understood culture that relates this to the team in a way that impacts business performance. Answering how a company’s product or service impacts the customer, consumer, or world in a positive way.” Meaning can first be derived from a clear company mission that puts employee work in the context of how a company interacts with the world.


Second, the department. Employees find meaning in both departmental goals and a working relationship with a manager that helps them advance their career. This is where HR technology can be a major asset. LaRocque investigates the role of HR technology in company culture by means of three company case studies. In one, a cloud-based content marketing and advertising firm used HR technology to tackle core HR initiatives. The result? Employees found better working relationships with their managers.


“In this example, the performance management experience, onboarding, benefits, and payroll process are all contributing to a better employee experience,” writes LaRocque. “The strategic value of the core HR data has increased dramatically, empowering managers to have more insightful and personal conversations with their staff as part of the performance management process.” HR technology helps create better performance management, and that means more meaningful work at the departmental level.


Finally, employees must find their work meaningful on the personal level. Again, we return to the core benefits employees find the most important: health insurance and PTO, arguably the most “personal” of all employee benefits. Is it any surprise that companies also recognize these two benefits as producing the highest ROI of any perk? Employers and employees agree: When work is a direct investment in an employee’s own life—in healthcare and free time earned for herself or her family—the work becomes more meaningful. And that means more engagement.


Oftentimes, HR buzzwords become buzzwords for good reason. They ignite a common theme in the profession that’s immediately recognizable and worthy of discussion (except “synergy.” Let’s all agree on ending “synergy”). “Employee engagement” is so overused that it at times seems void of meaning. But we mustn’t let that happen. By returning to the core of engagement—meaningful work and core benefits—HR can stand to create a healthier company culture that provides even more business impact. And that’s some clarity the whole company can appreciate.

Inside Namely’s First Hackathon: The Winners

This spring, Namely held one of its most exciting company events ever: our very first hackathon, Engage Namely. For 24 hours, 17 teams—each featuring members across all Namely departments—collaborated in a product designing blitz to create our next brand new HR tech tool or feature enhancement. 

“I was really, really impressed with the amount of work and dedication everyone had,” says Ed Burnett, VP of Engineering at Namely and one of the company’s very first hires. What made Namely’s hackathon so unique? Notably, it was not exclusive to our engineering team—employees from sales, marketing, client success, design, HR, and more could all offer their ideas. Says Ed, “A hackathon where people are exchanging roles and working with people they’ve never worked with was super awesome to see. I loved it.”

Matt Straz, Namely founder and CEO, preparing for his hackathon hosting duties.

Matt Straz, Namely founder and CEO, preparing for his hackathon hosting duties. Photo by Andrew Persons.

Alex Boyovich, account executive, and Michael Manne, VP, Sales, ready for some hackathon action.

Alex Boyovich, account executive, and Michael Manne, VP, Sales, ready for some hackathon action. Photo by Andrew Persons.

Our panel of judges included Namely investors, clients, and supporters.

Our panel of judges included Namely investors, clients, and supporters. Photo by Andrew Persons.

93 ideas, five judges, and one sleepless night later, we had four teams selected as winners—with the first place tool already live and awaiting testing. One note for our Namely clients: Like any hackathon, our event was incredibly useful for ideation, but you shouldn’t expect every idea to show up on the near-term product roadmap. “I really, really hope that a lot of people continue to follow up on the projects they put together,” Ed says. “Because there’s a lot of stuff I’d like to see get into product.”


Join us as we take a look inside each of the winning Namely hackathon projects, and speak with Ed Burnett about his team’s first place tool and how it will take Namely to the next level.

Namely Sense - Winner of the Sequoia Capital “Moonshot” Award

The Namely Sense team presents their project centered on temperature, motion, and humidity sensors around the office.

The Namely Sense team presents their project centered on temperature, motion, and humidity sensors around the office. Photo by Andrew Persons.

How many times have you needed to book a conference room at the last minute, only to find they are all taken? Or maybe you head into a conference room and it’s completely freezing but you left your sweater all the way on the other side of the office.


Namely Sense aims to make the office a more tailored, interactive experience with live temperature, motion, and humidity sensors in office conference rooms. The project was the recipient of the Sequoia Capital “Moonshot” award presented by Pat Grady, partner at Sequoia Capital.


The team produced a live webpage featuring nine of the largest Namely conference rooms in our New York office, each complete with their current temperatures, a red or green alert to let you know if the room is occupied, and a “Book Now!” button for available rooms. And that’s only the beginning of how Namely Sense could customize your office experience. Imagine luminosity and temperature sensors in the office to guide you to the most comfortable working environment. Or, what if you could study foot traffic from office sensors to improve layout and cross-departmental communication? The unique potential presented by the clever technology clinched Namely Sense’s win of the Sequoia Capital “Moonshot” award.

Preemptive Benefits Compliance - 3rd Place Winner

The Preemptive Benefits Compliance team accepts their 3rd place award.

The Preemptive Benefits Compliance team accepts their 3rd place award. Photo by Andrew Persons.

Nate McFall, account executive, and Mike MacGilpin, account executive, present their project to Matt Straz.

Nate McFall, account executive, and Mike MacGilpin, account executive, present their project to Matt Straz—with the help of a yellow friend. Photo by Andrew Persons.

Compliance. It’s a frightening word for many an HR professional. With the Affordable Care Act and new overtime legislation, it’s only getting more difficult for human resources to keep up every year. The trick has always been to monitor the precise changes happening in your workforce that trigger new legal requirements for your company. That’s exactly what the Preemptive Benefits Compliance tool, Engage Namely’s third place winner, is designed to help you do.

In addition to the Namely benefits experts that always help keep our clients compliant with local and federal laws, Preemptive Benefits Compliance would keep your company one more step ahead of compliance issues. Picture getting an automated online alert each time your growing workforce will soon be subject to COBRA coverage, FMLA laws, or form 5500 filing. With all of your talent management and benefits data in one place with Namely, it wouldn’t just be possible—it would have countless applications.

Namely Emergency Alert System - 2nd Place Winner

The Namely EAS team accepting their 2nd place award.

The Namely EAS team accepting their 2nd place award. Photo by Andrew Persons.

Nicholas Hehr, front end developer, presents the EAS team's presentation.

Nicholas Hehr, front end developer, presents the EAS team's presentation. Photo by Andrew Persons.

Imagine a bad snowstorm is about to hit your office. Employees are about to commute to work, but the office is closed. What’s HR to do? Probably send a flurry of emails or instant messages and hope for the best—but how can they be sure everyone got the message? The Namely Emergency Alert System is all you would need.


With the click of a button, an HR admin could use Namely to send out a text to the entire company, and everyone would be in the know. And it doesn’t just stop at bad weather and office closures. Area traffic, system outages, evacuations… there are many instances when HR needs to easily and reliably inform the whole company. That’s what Namely EAS is built for.

The Namely EAS team ended their presentation by sending everyone in the Namely office a test SMS—and showing the delivery rate in real time. Fun Fact: Approximately 90 percent of SMS are read within the first three minutes of delivery. That increased reliability—plus an impressive demo—pushed the EAS team into the number two slot.

Project Apollo - 1st Place Winner

The Project Apollo team accepting their 1st place award.

The Project Apollo team accepting their 1st place award. Photo by Andrew Persons.

Hackathons are fun, in part, because of the diversity of the projects. Some are moonshot ideas—big, bold, and outside of a product’s current feature set. Others are tools and efficiencies that make standing products even better. Project Apollo, the winner of Namely’s first hackathon, falls into the latter category. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting—considering it takes 10 Namely payroll administrative tasks and makes them all remarkably faster.


One surefire way to win over hackathon judges is to have a fully built tool ready to implement at a moment’s notice, as was the case with Project Apollo. “So it’s live right now,” says Ed Burnett, VP of Engineering at Namely and leader of the Project Apollo team.  “There’s a road map in place, and the first step is to get it used.” The business value of Project Apollo—and it’s immediate benefit to clients—propelled it to first place.

The Project Apollo team delivers a live product demonstration.

The Project Apollo team delivers a live product demonstration. Photo by Andrew Persons.

While winning the hackathon was certainly rewarding, it wasn’t the only reason Ed loved the whole experience. “This stuff is valuable that people put together,” he says. “There wasn’t a single project that I couldn’t see us building. If people keep pushing on it and keep developing it, they will be.”


With plans for Namely’s second hackathon set for September, there will be even more opportunities for employees to share their ideas. When it comes to pushing a company forward with new and exciting thinking—and bringing your people together in the process—you just never know what kind of passionate ideas everyone can dream up. As we saw with Engage Namely, all you have to do is ask.

Full List of Winners

Project Apollo - 1st Place Winner
Brett Berman
Ed Burnett
Justin Jacques
Ray Walters
Natasha Wasik

Namely Emergency Alert System - 2nd Place Winner
Darren Andes
Danning Ge
Nick Hehr
Sebastien van Heyningen
Marian Mosley
Michael Rothbaum
Rachel Rubackin
Jim Walker

Preemptive Benefits Compliance - 3rd Place Winner
Greg Autuori
Randi Brookes
Jeff Federman
Michael MacGilpin
Nate McFall
Shelly Yip

Namely Sense - Winner of the Sequoia Capital “Moonshot” Award
Jordan Buffaloe
Gregory Delpe
Rich Fernandez
Attila Maczak
Luigi Patruno

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