Zenefits gets out of the brokerage business, opts to collaborate instead
- Zenefits is a turning a new page, getting out of the brokerage business and instead collaborating with brokers as a "backbone" technology provider, according to a release emailed to HR Dive.
- The Zenefits Certified Broker Program's first partner is OneDigital, one of the nation's larger benefits companies. The partnership allows OneDigital to use Zenefits platform while giving Zenefits clients access to local brokers across the country. Zenefits also announced other partnerships, including other vendors and apps on their marketplace.
- This move is the latest by the re-emergent tech company to recover and stabilize after the scandal that wracked the company in late 2015 and early 2016 over the licensing of brokers on the company's platform. "What we need to focus on is being a killer tech platform that is easy use and efficient as possible," Kevin Marasco, Zenefits chief marketing officer, told HR Dive.
Mike Sullivan, chief growth officer for OneDigital, told HR Dive he sees the partnership as a strong sign that the benefits tech field is reaching a stage of greater collaboration and consolidation — something that may make the field a bit easier for HR managers to navigate.
For those that have been watching Zenefits, the pivot makes sense. Zenefits' problems weren't with its technology platform, but with an aspect of the HR benefits field that is heavy in compliance and regulation. The company paid a $7 million fine in California for licensing and training violations after insurance regulators alleged employees at the firm sold insurance without licenses and used software to skip required training.
The entanglement between the benefits-side and technology-side is familiar to those that have been in the bentech space for some time.
"I think there’s a lot of HR tech companies that find themselves pulled into dealing with benefits, or dealing with tech. But almost across the board, whether it is HR tech or benefits, they tend to do one thing very well and other things they don’t do very well," Sullivan said. "A lot of firms are talking about one-stop-shopping. In reality, no one can do that."
Zenefit's goal is to become an HR tech platform akin to Salesforce that serves as the "backbone" other HR tech companies can partner with and integrate into, Marasco said. If anything, the company has learned over the past few years that they "don't have to do it all."
"A lot of people have approached this in silos, but we are trying to have a more people-focused approach and not a process-centric approach," Marasco said. "We want to create a seamless approach for people but still have the flexibility they need."
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