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With 800 companies exhibiting at the SHRM National Conference, it’s a challenge determining which vendors are simply repackaging a product that’s virtually identical to what others sell and which offer something innovative, unique, and valuable to the employer. I visited with many of the companies and 10 caught my eye. Their product or service stands out from the others I spoke with in their respective industries.  They offer significant value and innovation compared to their competitors.  Now, these aren’t endorsements or recommendations, and no one’s comping me (not even a squishy stress ball exchanged hands).

This Is Alice (ThisIsAlice.com)
Alice is software that manages your employees’ utilization of your FSA and HSA program. The employee enters their credit card (or other) account information into the system and the AI algorithm (that’s Alice) monitors their accounts for expenditures that are likely covered by the employee’s FSA or HSA. As an example, if she sees a $20 charge for commuting, she automatically texts the employee and asks if the commute was work related. If the employee replies “yes”, Alice automatically pulls $20 from the employee’s FSA and updates the employer’s payroll system so the next paycheck displays the reimbursement from the FSA. There’s no cost to the employee and the employer generally sees an 8% savings from the use of these pre-tax dollars, of which Alice takes 4%. This Is Alice is paid from the money the employer saves on tax payroll tax liability. Slick!

DailyPay (DailyPay.com)
DailyPay ports with your HRIS/payroll system and allows employees to cash-out their earned wages anytime. While there are a few companies in this pay-on-demand industry, DailyPay has some cost and functionality advantages. Funds requested by the employee are either immediately deposited ($2.99 per transaction) into the employee’s bank account or are deposited the next business day ($1.99 per transaction). By default, the employee pays the fee, but some employers reimburse up to a specific number of transfers quarterly or annually. When the employee gets paid by the employer, DailyPay automatically takes the total of the advance from the employee’s paycheck and the employee gets your current payroll system’s pay stub. There’s no implementation costs or set-up fees–zilch!  It’s all covered by the transaction fee.

Social Intelligence (SocialIntel.com)
Careerbuilder did a survey in 2017 discovering that over 70% of employers admit to screening candidates based, in part, on their social media posts. While this is an ever-evolving area of employment law, Social Intelligence offers a social media background check. Their software scans the candidate’s social media profiles (yikes, I know) specifically looking for potentially violent behavior, occurrences of racism or intolerance (per Social Intelligence’s definition of each), and other undesirable behavior. Then the employer receives a report similar to an old background check result–a thumbs up or thumbs down. In the event the software identifies issues, screenshots of the issues are provided to HR. Now, I know my HR colleagues are wincing as they read this, but the issue remains that hiring managers are reviewing these sites regardless of whether we’re trilled with the behavior. This software alleviates the need/impulse for a hiring manager to troll a candidate’s social media, preventing them from stumbling into who-knows-what non-permissible content on the candidate’s profiles. If your managers are looking at social media, this may be a better, safer, more formal approach.

[email protected] (Care.com/CareAtWork)
As you know, employees are focused on family-oriented benefits, often becoming part of recruiting and retention discussions. [email protected] provides access to back-up child care, full-service adult care, and senior planning. For example, if an employee’s child needs day care for a day or more (i.e. school break, ill nannie, etc.), [email protected] directs the employee to an appropriate, credentialed daycare center or, depending on the circumstance, they have employees ready to step-in and watch the child in-home. Additionally, if the employee needs senior planning, a behavioral counselor (MSW) works with the employee, assisting with the senior planning needs but also assisting the employee emotionally. [email protected] contracts with facilities close to the employer and the employer only pays when care takes place. They have a comprehensive dashboard allowing the employer to see utilization rates, costs, extrapolate attendance savings, and so on.

Spark Hire (SparkHire.com)
This is a service some may be familiar with, but this is version 2.0. Spark Hire ports with your ATS to allow you to require candidates to record videos of them answering interview questions. Then the recruiter or hiring manager can access the recorded answers, rate the answers, and make comments in the system. This is a significant time savings for the company but candidates, historically, do not like this experience. Spark Hire, however, focuses heavily on the candidate experience. The platform won multiple awards for user (candidate) experience from dominant tech industry magazines and blogs, separating them from other video interview platforms. Spark Hire can be fully accessed on mobile device and significantly streamlines the interview process for hiring managers. …And it’s affordable. “How affordable,” you ask? It apparently depends on the utilization, but you can quote me as having been assured that it’s affordable (given other companies in this industry).

First Advantage (learn.fadv.com/toolkit)
Background check providers struggle to differentiate themselves, often reverting to vague promises of speedy results or commitments to seamless port with your HRIS. First Advantage offers the typical commitments to accuracy, speed, and customer service, but they also maintain an active background check on your employees throughout the duration of their employment. If an employee gets convicted while working for you, First Advantage will notify you timely (presuming the conviction is reasonably related to the job, etc.). This type of ongoing background “recertification” is likely to become more popular as liability for workplace violence continues to climb, and may be useful for employers with specific concerns regarding exposure.

Namely (Namely.com)
Given Namely’s focus on small- to mid-sized business and the number of mid-sized clients I have, I spent some time with Namely to see if they really know mid-sized companies. They really do have a slick HRIS that’s cost effective, innovative, and intelligent, targeted specifically at small- to mid-size companies. I’m generally skeptical of HRIS firms’ claims of functionality and ease of use but, while I’m not endorsing anyone, I liked what I saw. For example, the employee landing page looks like Facebook (i.e. clean, functional, and logical), and employees can make posts just like in social media. Namely becomes a company communication tool, making the HRIS relevant and value-added for the organization. Further, the posts that mention an employee are stored in that employee’s HR profile, allowing the posts (typically accolades) to be reviewed during a review cycle or for any other purpose. Namely has some intelligent, deliberate customizations for their market–a key differentiator in the crowded HRIS space.

Tuition.io (Tuition.io)
There are quite a few well-known benefits companies adding student loan repayment to their offerings, allowing employers to pay employees’ student loans as an benefit or incentive. The predominant issue with many of these well-established firms is pricing. These larger benefits management companies have brought their customary high prices to the tuition repayment space. Enter a disrupter: Tuition.io. Not only is their pricing significantly less shocking (quoted at approximately $.80 per employee per month), but they also enable employees to exchange their accrued PTO time toward their student loan–a win-win innovation I did not see with other tuition repayment providers. Additionally, all employees within the organization have access to Tuition.io’s robust suite of online financial wellness tools.

AxiomMedical (Axiomllc.com)
This long-overdue evolution of workers’ compensation care management has the makings of a hit! AxiomMedical becomes a company’s workers’ compensation care provider versus the predictable chain of pricey clinics. AxiomMedical owns no clinics and is tied to no insurance company–a huge differentiator between them and other injury management companies in the industry. They negotiate rates and relationships with individual providers near each of your company’s locations–wherever those locations are in the U.S.–and will manage each injured employee’s return to work process. They’ll interact with the employee to ensure compliance with treatment plans and restrictions throughout the employee’s light duty period. This model frees the employer to immediately switch clinics in the event of an issue with service, competence, or any other concern. AxiomMedical has the clinics individually competing for your business. While a number of companies perform pieces of the plethora of workers’ compensation tasks, AxiomMedical has combined the services into being the employer’s triage company, source of vetted clinics, and partner in returning the employee to work. This business model typically drives down claims cost and reduces clinics’ frivolous referrals to physical therapy or specialists. Of course, there’s a robust online portal to manage claims and see costs.

Salary Finance (SalaryFinance.com)
Several financial wellness surveys found that slightly less than 75% of employees admit they currently have serious personal financial concerns and that number crosses all employee groups–from the front-line to the C-suite. Wow! Salary Finance offers loans to employees at significantly less than credit card rates and ports to your payroll system, repaying the loans through automatic deductions each payday. There’s no cost to the employer. Additionally, since the loan is with Salary Finance and not the employer, if the employee leaves your organization before the loan is repaid, Salary Finance transitions the loan to their in-house repayment process; there’s no financial risk to the employer. Salary Finance fills a sizable void in an employer’s benefits offering: the ability to get a low-cost loan for those who can’t get one from a traditional bank. This benefit, while costing the employer nothing, may make a huge difference for your employees.

During a full employment market, companies struggle to differentiate themselves when recruiting and retaining talent, and the idea of utilizing technology to alleviate administrative burdens is very attractive. Regardless of your organization’s size, the companies listed above likely offer services that would differentiate you from your employment competitors and add to retention–certainly worth a look!

FinePoint HR provides human resources consulting services to clients throughout the US and Asia.