Ben Lazarov of Zenefits: Human Capital Management Should Improve Experiences for Employees and SMBs

Salesforce held their Small Business Basecamp event here in Atlanta attended by hundreds of entrepreneurs, startups and small business owners. It was a day filled with lots of great panels, sessions and networking opportunities – all focused on helping SMBs efficiently move their businesses forward.

One of the partners of the event is Zenefits, a cloud-based human resource software provider for small and midsize companies. With human capital management becoming more prominent in companies of all sizes, I had the opportunity to speak with Ben Lazarov, Senior Enterprise Account Executive for Zenefits, to better understand what HCM has to offer growing small businesses.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. You can see the whole conversation in the embedded video. And let me send a special thank you to Monique Johnson of Live Video Lab and Corey Webb of Webb Consulting Company for producing this video.

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Ben Lazarov of Zenefits: Human Capital Management Should Improve Experiences for Employees and SMBsSmall Business Trends: Before we talk about human capital management (HCM), particularly, tell us a little bit about Zenefits.

Ben Lazarov: Zenefits is the number one all-in-one HR platform. We help companies from two employees to a thousand employees manage their back office, connect payroll, benefits and HR all in one place.

Small Business Trends: The term human capital management. Tell us what that is.

Ben Lazarov: I think of it more as an employee’s experience from hire to fire. I say employee’s experience. It’s also the company’s experience, too. Being able to manage everything from new hire paperwork, to benefits enrollment, to setting somebody up on payroll, and since we’re at the Salesforce conference, being able to connect a lot of back office business systems as well.

Small Business Trends: Where does HCM fit in for smaller businesses?

Ben Lazarov: I think it’s trending towards being able to implement something quicker at a more cost effective rate. If you mentioned human capital management to somebody today, they’d probably think of a company like an Oracle or a Workday. Typically small businesses have always managed those things on paper or Excel, and they always talk about the file cabinet they have in their office. Companies are now trending towards being able to use something that’s easier for them, easier for their employees, that’s mobile, to help with their employee experience.

Small Business Trends: Maybe give us an example or two of how small business would use HCM.

Ben Lazarov: Let’s say you start work tomorrow. First day, you come into a business, typically people are always plagued with a stack of paperwork. That’s your first experience. You come in, you fill out your name and your address 15 times before you get to do anything new. I think with Zenefits, or with any modern human capital management today, we’re streamlining that process. We’re educating the employees up front and allowing them to have a better experience on day one.

Small Business Trends: When is a time that a small company should start thinking about implementing a HCM solution?

Ben Lazarov: I’ve talked to companies that have two employees and they want to be able to prepare themselves for growth. I don’t think there’s ever a time that’s too soon. At each stage of a business, one to 50, 50 to 100, 100 to plus, you’re going to have different issues that face the business from a HR, compliance and benefits standpoint, but it’s better to get started early than wait around.

Small Business Trends: Are there certain aspects that are more relevant to small businesses when it comes to HCM versus what big enterprises are faced with?

Ben Lazarov: I think what’s interesting is small businesses today are trying to stay cutting edge. They’re looking for the next best thing to propel their business and to grow their business. A lot of these small businesses look at Zenefits as a thought leader and a space to help them determine what they should be doing from an HR standpoint, from a benefits standpoint, and even from a CRM standpoint. You look to Salesforce at their AppExchange, a lot of companies go to them to see what their integrations are. I think the same thing is for Zenefits. They come to our app exchange to see what we think are the best applicant tracking systems, or the best performance management systems. Then they’re able to integrate it into our platform.

Small Business Trends: Very cool. When you think about small businesses today, there’s a lot of technology talk that’s coming at them. What’s the best way for them to look at using HCM, implementing it?

Ben Lazarov: I talk to so many companies on a monthly basis and the biggest problem that these small businesses have is they have a lot of different systems. They have one system for time tracking. They have one system for pay role. They have one system for insurance, and from a business standpoint, they need somebody to help them manage it. That’s where they turn to us and, obviously, stay compliant while doing it.

Small Business Trends: What are the pieces of the platform that they should be aware of?

Ben Lazarov: Payroll, time and attendance tracking, time off tracking. Our mobile app allows employees to manage work flows, but mainly, just helping get their employees on-boarded. There’s so much that goes into that, like I said, the documents and filling out paperwork for the employee, first of all, and then obviously for the administrator on the back end. They always have to set people up on payroll and then obviously set them up on insurance. With Zenefits, it’s just one place and everything else is updated.

Small Business Trends: Last think I want to ask you about is Zenefits recently did a benefit study around SMBs. Will you talk a little bit about that? What were some of the key findings from it?

Ben Lazarov: Yeah, we had about 8,000 companies respond to that survey. It was really great benefits benchmarking. I’d say one common theme that I hear when I talk to most companies, they always want to know what other businesses are doing, always. One key component of that is benefits, and so some key findings were that companies are actually contributing over 25% more than what they actually need to from a benefits contribution standpoint. I think they use Zenefits to stay competitive in the market. From a benefit standpoint, we also help them manage things like commuter benefits, and 401K, and flexible spending accounts. It was interesting to see all of the data around each segment of the United States from those small businesses. They’re investing in their employees. They want to be an employer of choice.

Small Business Trends: I want to make sure the people know where they can go to learn more about Zenefits and also learn more about the study.

Ben Lazarov: Go ahead and request a demo if you want to see the technology. You fill out a request demo form and we’ll get in touch with you.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.