Zenefits on Tuesday unveiled a new line of product offerings, including HR app integration capabilities with 17 partner companies, a wide release of its payroll app in California and HR guidance and services, among others.

Everything in the company’s past has been a prelude to Z2, as the new product offerings are called, said David Sacks, Zenefits’ CEO in a media call previewing the new tools. “Small business has been left behind in terms of HR tools available to them, until quite recently,” Sacks said. “We want to fix that.”

The suite of apps, which will work across functions — including expense, performance management, employee engagement and productivity — includes such brands as Google for Work, Slack, Salesforce, Lever, QuickBooks, Expensify, Lattice, eShares and Bonsuly, and will be fully integrated on the backend.

Until now, there has not been a program that allows small businesses to manage all their systems together in one place, Sacks says, as systems didn’t talk to one another. That’s what the company hopes to overcome with Z2 and this app store. “We redesigned Zenefits to be an app store for HR,” he explains. “That is the best way to provide truly all-in-one” services.

The future of HR technology
Even as Zenefits is defining this new product in press materials as the “world’s first fully integrated HR app directory,” Rhonda Marcucci, principal of Chicago-based HR tech consultancy Gruppo Marcucci, says the concept of an app store for HR has been around for a few years, such as existing offerings with ADP.

“The thing that is interesting about [Z2] is the companies [in the app store] are more like vendors to help start up really small businesses,” she says. “They are not vendors to help with HR/benefits.”

Overall, the concept of building an app store is the future of all technology, not just HR tech, Marcucci adds. “In that, instead of everyone focusing on bringing a single system that does a lot of stuff, people are focusing on building or maintaining one thing that does really well and integrates with others.”

This Zenefits Z2 product launch is similar to how the company was founded, in that none of its technology is inherently new, but rather novel in its presentation and packaging, says Michael Lujan, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Limelight Health in San Francisco. “It was hardly an invention, but rather a well marketed and well packaged solution for small business,” Lujan adds. “[Z2] is similar.”

Jessica Hoffman, Zenefits’ VP of communications, says that this release is the “culmination of everything the company has been building for the last three years. This is the future of this industry … and the rebirth of the company.”

All applications within the Zenefits app store will talk with one another, with Zenefits having all data as the system of record. “Zenefits is at the eco-system of the data and provides apps we think are core for HR, benefits and payroll,” Sacks says.

As an example, when someone is hired, they will just need to enter their information once into Zenefits, and that data will flow to any of the apps their HR department decides to use. “We want to make [hiring] as easy as ordering an Uber,” says Itai Turbhan, Zenefits’ director of product management.

The app store will be free for application providers to have a benefits app listed and Zenefits will not be taking a commission on any of those products. For example, an employer would still use their Salesforce account, but use Zenefits to exchange the data, Sacks explains.

Zenefits also announced a wide release of Zenefits Payroll, starting in California, which will have integration across time and attendance, time off, benefits, HRIS and partner apps. Zenefits Payroll launched in limited release to more than 500 companies in November 2015.

The payroll product will cost $35 per month, plus $5 monthly per employee, says Chen Fang, Zenefits’ director of product. Time and attendance will cost an additional $5 per employee, per month.

Fang adds that there are 4,000 companies on a waiting list for the product in California and beyond. “We know running payroll is tedious because a majority of the work is collecting information [with] so many changes each pay period,” Fang says.

Hoffman adds that “a handful” of states will be rolled out later in 2016, with others to follow in 2017.

HR Advisor App
Another new product Zenefits announced is the HR Advisor App, which will provide small business owners and HR administrators’ guidance in creating policies and materials for their businesses.

The product includes a library of articles and tools related to hiring, employee compensation, benefits benchmarking, compliance and more. The app will include a further functionality that provides access to certified experts who can help companies address common and uncommon HR issues specific to their company.

Access for further help can be requested directly through the app. Pricing for Zenefits HR Advisor is $5 per month, per employee. Background checks through the tool will cost $25-$35 per check.

The app is a “new revenue channel for Zenefits” and geared toward small business owners, says Arisa Amano, Zenefits’ vice president of product.

“We heard from a lot of customers and small business owners that they need HR expertise,” Amano says. “Many don’t have HR experts, …. so they don’t know all the details and don’t have the experience that is required to really run HR for their business.

More changes
Among other changes the company announced Tuesday were:

  • A redesign of its core HR platform, including redesigns of the employee and admin dashboards, more comprehensive employee profiles and new overview pages for administrators.
  • A new android and upgraded iPhone app.

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