When our company was a startup, as the founder, I managed benefits, HR, personnel support, finance…the chief cook and bottle washer syndrome. As we grew, I was surprised at how much benefits management requirements expanded.

The demands on our time came from competitive shopping medical benefits, workers comp benefits, short-term and long-term disability and 401k benefits, among others. Before we knew it we had 3 vendors to manage on different payment schedules with different filing requirements. And just because we aspired to be a paperless office, that didn’t stop the ‘documentation requirements’ for distributing safe harbor paperwork and quarterly reports and managing annual renewals.

People want choices you may not be able to offer.

As our headcount eclipsed 15 people and we had different profiles of employees that were motivated by different benefits, it got even harder. It’s one thing to manage the transactional realities and costs of benefits, it’s another thing to take the time to understand what your team wants and offer them options.

We participate every year in the Best Places to Work survey, and for the past 5 years we only got dinged in one category—benefits. No matter how many new benefits we added, no matter that we covered more of the premiums, we still couldn’t keep up with the reality (or the perception) of choice that our growing team wanted. People work for more than a mission, culture or salary, they work for their entire package. Benefits is a serious consideration and factor in job selection and satisfaction.

HR & Payroll Management have gotten a little testy of late

I started talking to other entrepreneurs and more than a few had brought in a strategic benefits management companies. You’ve likely heard commercials forunicorn superstar Benefits, although they’ve been getting some bad press in their battle with ADP. There are some valid points raised about who owns data on employees, how that data is used and who is benefiting from the value of that data.

For most startups that want to stay out of the mud flinging, you are just seeking help, more competitive options, more tech-savvy benefits administration and happier employees as a result.