With a fully remote and growing team, this professional learning start-up outgrew their limited HR solution.
TriNet was able to flex with their needs by providing access to a wide range of benefits, specialized HR expertise and technology platform for their remote employees across the country.
It didn’t take a global pandemic for three education experts to recognize that schools are at a difficult inflection point as they try to evolve with students’ and teachers’ needs. As a result, they co-founded LINC, The Learning Innovation Catalyst, with a mission to create classrooms that work for every learner by supporting blended, project-based, remote and hybrid learning.
“Blended learning is leveraging technology to provide a more personalized experience for students—a combination of in-person and digital experiences,” explained Kate Schuster, Client Services Manager at LINC. “It’s leveraging technology to free up the teacher from in front of the classroom in order to have one-on-one or small group instruction with their students.” This training is conducted through their professional development platform, LINCspring, which is designed to transform schools to take a student-centered approach where they have more independence in their learning. The LINC solution is valued by school districts located in 13 countries and 32 US states, supporting 40,000 teachers and 1 million students.
When LINC was half their current size, they worked with a smaller professional employer organization (PEO) that specialized in a niche industry and market. The learning innovation company may have been just starting up, but their employment-related issues proved too complex for their small PEO to efficiently assist with LINC employees dispersed across the country. LINC also had to administer their own 401(k) plan while working with the smaller PEO, which Kate describes as “a behemoth task for small companies to take on and can end up being very costly in many different ways.” Even with the long list of plan responsibilities and risks, many similar small companies think they can do the heavy lifting only to face significant compliance issues.
As LINC continued to grow their remote team, the need for more robust HR technology and alleviation of 401(k) plan administration warranted a switch to a larger HR solution. Kate acknowledges that she had a remarkable experience when working with TriNet at a prior company. After analyzing several PEOs, she “felt that TriNet was one of the biggest PEOs in the space” and could deliver on providing access to a wide range of benefits, specialized HR expertise and technology to sync functions such as access to a multiple employer 401(k) plan , expense report management, and more with their payroll.
According to Kate, LINC benefits from numerous HR services and solutions provided by TriNet. A component of particular value to them is the payroll solution. TriNet helps them navigate the maze of regulations across 11 states including wages, benefits, paid leave and unemployment insurance claims, to name a few. “Between the combination of the payroll service, payroll tax administration, plus the employment regulation compliance, we needed someone who can keep us up to date and has the ability to file taxes in all of those states. So TriNet has been a huge benefit for us,” said Kate.
Prior to working with TriNet, accessing payroll and HR reports was a manual and cumbersome process. With Workforce Analytics, TriNet’s reporting tool, Kate can now run many reports, including the valuable check register report, whenever she needs them to help guide decisions with the most up-to-date information.
The LINC operations team is no longer bogged down with contribution and data submission, compliance testing, form 5500 filing, investment monitoring and other plan requirements. That’s because offering a TriNet 401(k) multiple employer plan to US based employees helps alleviate these administrative, compliance and fiduciary responsibilities. “The fact that it takes most of the fiduciary responsibility from us is huge,” said Kate. “What's also great about switching to TriNet is that the fee structure is based on the employee and it's very small. It's helpful to take that burden off of us as a growing startup.” Since the fees are paid out of participant accounts, there’s no out-of-pocket cost to LINC. Plus, plan fees are lower than the industry average which makes it easier for their team to save for retirement.
“TriNet allows us to grow easily,” said Kate. In less than the span of a year, the LINC team has added at least seven new employees with ambitious plans to continue to grow. “The ability to very easily scale and add employees no matter where they live, to be able to offer access to big company benefits as a fairly small organization is going to continue to be a value add for us.” LINC leadership appreciates that they can offer access to a range of health benefits in every state, even rural areas where few healthcare plans are available.
Kate proudly acknowledges that they’re still “scrappy in their start-up mode” but many of their employees who support their clients have established careers in education and are accustomed to having a high-caliber range of benefits. “It is really great that we're able to still provide those same level of benefits to employees, even though we're a private company that's a startup,” said Kate. Through the TriNet platform, LINC employees can easily compare and enroll in a variety of benefits that go beyond health and dental, such as commuter benefits, pet insurance, auto and home policies, and more. “When you log in to TriNet, it's a very professional platform. Everything is very clear, easy and it really empowers employees. If they have a question about their benefits, a tech question about the platform, they can call or chat with TriNet experts,” said Kate. “I think that is really why it's been so useful to have TriNet.”
While many small businesses have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, LINC has proven to be uniquely suited to address a dire challenge during the crisis and has become one of the most sought-after professional development providers for educators. School districts have realized that they need LINC’s platform to help their teachers successfully transition to remote learning by meaningfully integrating technology to create student-centered classrooms. LINC is able to stay committed to training teachers so they can help students thrive regardless of the classroom setting, while TriNet helps them expand and manage crucial HR functions. “The ease of scale is really helpful. Outsourcing HR functions to TriNet clears the lane for the bigger stuff that we're up to, the real work of our organization,” concluded Kate.