Therapeutic Early Intervention Services (TEIS) is an interdisciplinary group of compassionate professionals who help children reach their full potential. “We work with children from birth to three, and their families, in their natural spaces: at home, in childcare facilities, and so on,” says TEIS Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Rafferty. The organization has five office staff and about 70 physical, occupational, speech, developmental, and other therapists.
With that many different therapists—some full-time, some part-time—working in varying locations and being paid different rates, TEIS payroll is complex. Rafferty relies on SentricHR to make sure everyone is paid correctly and on time. With smoother payroll, onboarding, and reporting, Sentric has reduced TEIS administrative tasks, allowing staff to focus on other areas of work.
There’s no way around it: TEIS has complex payroll requirements. “We pay our employees for the work that they do: the hour that they’re in the therapy session, as well as the driving between patients and staff meetings,” says Rafferty. “But there are varying reimbursements depending on if it’s direct treatment or driving or staff meetings or training.” TEIS also has part-time and full-time staff, all of whom are eligible for varying health benefits.
“Then we also have multiple codes because we also report financials to the counties: if a child lives in a county, that county provides funding. We need solid reporting to compare what’s going on in payroll to what we’re billing out to the counties and states and make sure everything cross-checks.”
When Rafferty started working with TEIS, the company had been using Sentric for nearly 15 years and had recently upgraded to SentricHR to manage its payroll and HRIS needs. But, as employee benefits costs continued to rise, TEIS decided to try a new vendor in 2019, one that used the Professional Employer Organization (PEO) model. “They were supposed to take on the payroll reliability, as well as the HR piece—they advertised it as meeting all of our needs at once,” she says.
It didn’t work out that way. “It ended up being piecemeal. I had a payroll rep, I had an HR rep, and a benefits rep. They weren’t allowed to tell me information about employees so I couldn’t really assist our people. Our employees would need to call the customer service line themselves. Often, they’d be number 10 in the queue. But our therapists don’t have time to wait on hold in between sessions.”
Frustratingly, the new vendor was only set up to offer benefits to full-time employees. “And we offer fringe benefits to part-time employees,” Rafferty says. “There also seemed to be a lot of hidden costs, once we got into it.”
By the end of 2021, TEIS realized it was time to change HR solutions again. “This vendor was supposed to solve our problems, but we ended up with more headaches and more fees and we were continuously trying to figure out who to go to for help.”
On January 1, 2022, TEIS officially became a Sentric client again. And Rafferty couldn’t be happier with the decision. Sentric’s all-in-one HRIS not only streamlines the company’s complex payroll and tax filing needs, but has simplified employee onboarding and reduced overall costs. All that is backed by always available and helpful support.
With its previous vendor, TEIS health insurance costs increased significantly each year, even though the vendor was not meeting the needs of all employees. “Employees weren’t happy. Every time they’d have a question we’d have to direct them to call the vendor. We’d say, ‘Oh, they’ll be able to help you.’ But they didn’t. We needed to find better customer support as well as cost savings.”
Sentric proved more flexible. While the previous vendor required TEIS to switch providers and would only offer full-time staff benefits, Sentric worked with TEIS to ensure all employees would get the benefits they signed up for, from a single provider. Benefits management was simplified thanks to Sentric’s employee self-service portal. As a result, costs stabilized and even decreased.
Rafferty sums up her payroll experience with SentricHR versus the previous vendor: “SentricHR is more straightforward and better.” And that has meant fewer errors. “Previously, we kept running into issues with payroll codes not being linked to the same rate for the same people,” she says. “We used to have so many payroll errors, and now we don’t.”
As well, TEIS employees can log into the SentricHR self-serve portal to request vacation and other paid time off (PTO). “And then that automatically passes into payroll. That’s been nice because our employees can now see their time-off balance instead of having to wait for their pay stub,” Rafferty says. “Because of course we have a complicated PTO plan where employees earn it as they work hours—and they don’t work 40 hours every week. They can work maybe 40, 38, 30, or just five.” Employees have visibility into their available time off, and supervisors can also check when their team members are away via the Sentric platform. “And then they don’t have to ask me for that information,” laughs Rafferty.
SentricHR has also transformed the TEIS onboarding process. Multiple emails with attached checklists and documents have been replaced by an online repository holding the company handbook, benefits forms, and other resources. New hires can log in, read the material, complete and sign forms, and note when each step has been completed.
“Having our onboarding materials in SentricHR has cut down a lot of admin time, and it’s a lot easier for new hires,” says Rafferty. “Fewer steps get missed by us or them.”
Rafferty also uses SentricHR to streamline the company’s recruiting process. “Again, instead of piecemealing—emailing back and forth word documents and PDF documents—the supervisors of potential candidates can go into the portal and view the resume and application and then send messages through SentricHR,” she says. “Having that all in one place and the fact that we can post ads easily to ZipRecruiter and other job boards has been great.”
Given her past experiences switching HR service providers, Rafferty was wary about the SentricHR implementation process. Although she had used the platform before, the user interface had a significant upgrade over three years. On top of that, TEIS planned to access more features this time.
“We had two implementation specialists, who I met with every other week, which I appreciated,” says Rafferty. “We went over the import template, and how to get all our data in and double-check it. They taught me how to use different features. Our previous vendor basically gave us a book that I don’t think I ever read.”
“I really enjoyed the Sentric onboarding process. I had people who would answer me right away. And they recorded the training—I always like to go back and review things again. It was just a much better process of learning the system.”
Overall, coming back to Sentric “has been a huge financial savings, even healthcare costs aside,” says Rafferty. “Our actual payroll costs have gone down as well. We’ve also decreased our admin costs because we’ve been able to move some administrators on to other things.”
While Rafferty hasn’t done an official financial analysis of switching HR solutions, “it’s been hours and hours and significant money saved,” she says.
Just as significant to Rafferty’s overall efficiency has been the improvement in customer support from their previous vendor. Even after the implementation process was complete, Rafferty says it was easy to connect with a Sentric expert. “Sentric has the option to call, email, or open a support case.”
Looking ahead, Rafferty plans to use more of SentricHR’s financial analysis capabilities, as well as its performance review features. “I am very thankful for the change to Sentric,” she says.