For a renowned creative agency with more than 100 employees, staying abreast of employment-related requirements would have taken time and resources away from core business functions.
TriNet’s end-to-end approach to employment-related compliance includes updates from HR experts, technology features, policy support and expertise on best practices to help mitigate risks.
Dubbed as the “the woman behind fashion’s most spectacular sets” by Vogue, Mary Howard has spent 30 years perfecting the discipline of photography set design. In 2003, she founded MHS Artists, a creative talent agency comprised of a family of artists who create editorial and advertising content for iconic brands within the fashion, media and music industries. Her team has worked with some of the most recognized creative professionals and world-renowned photographers including Annie Leibovitz and Steven Meisel. To expand upon the MHS Artist brand, she also founded Hook Studio which includes entities that provide full-service photo studios, fabrication for custom built sets and equipment rentals.
When Jackie Samaniego joined MHS Artists as controller in 2014, she quickly saw the need for an outsourced HR solution to support their team of over 100 employees working in many major metro areas. “There were so many people working for us and we actually didn’t have a payroll solution at that time. When I worked for other companies, I was used to working through payroll and knew it was important to be compliant, access HR and payroll reports and offer health benefits,” acknowledged Jackie.
After assessing several professional employer organizations (PEO) and payroll companies, Mary and Jackie decided to work with TriNet, a proud customer of MHS Artists for photography and creative production, in order to provide access to a variety of benefits to their growing team. “The PEO model made more sense because I was a three-person team and there was a lot going on—it was too much on the HR side to take full responsibility for. To have a company like TriNet help us manage so many of those HR things was what made sense for us,” said Jackie. For Mary, it’s extremely important to cultivate a positive, trusting work environment so their employees feel valued. This is in part demonstrated through providing access to attractive benefits with TriNet that go beyond medical plans including flexible spending accounts, critical accident and illness policies, telemedicine, vision, disability, life insurance and a 401(k) plan, among many more. “Working with TriNet does make us more of a professional, well-run company when we can offer this to employees,” said Mary.
Jackie admits that the comprehensive TriNet platform “has only gotten better over the years and is easy to maneuver.” TriNet technology is continuously enhanced with features to streamline HR functions around payroll processing, access to workforce data and reports, benefits enrollment, and compliance with certain employment-related requirements. With the robust reporting tool, Workforce Analytics, Jackie runs an essential payroll report to help her analyze job costs in order to accurately bill their clients. “It was really hard to access that report with just any payroll company, so TriNet is really helpful in creating these special reports for me. That’s why I wouldn't think of going anywhere else,” said Jackie. She acknowledges that having these custom reports built exactly how she needs them makes her life significantly easier.
She also accessed PPP-specific report templates in Workforce Analytics, one of which provides a detailed breakout of forgiveness-eligible payroll costs for a selected date range as defined by the PPP loan statute. “TriNet had special reports created that made the PPP loan forgiveness process very easy. I put in the dates and I was able to get the numbers I needed to apply for forgiveness,” said Jackie. “I didn't have to go and calculate everything on my own; it was automatically done for me. That's how I was able to submit my applications to the SBA and everything's been accepted, so that was really helpful.”
Mary employs a large, mixed workforce comprised of exempt, non-exempt, full-time and part-time employees who typically don’t work in an office. To help manage their employees’ time in an efficient and accurate manner, they leverage the TriNet Time and Attendance solution which includes features such as timecard management, labor cost tracking, employee scheduling and absence management. Their employees can easily clock in and out for shifts or breaks using an intuitive platform which syncs with the TriNet payroll solution, so time and attendance details are automatically captured for payroll processing.
Rounding out TriNet’s full-service HR solution is access to a team of experts to help MHS Artists stay abreast of employment requirements and navigate employee relations issues. Jackie is keenly aware of the sensitivity and complexity that comes when an HR challenge arises, so she leans on TriNet experts for guidance. “I always call TriNet and they've been very helpful throughout the years to help me with different situations with employees when they have issues going on,” said Jackie. “TriNet experts give me the advice on how to handle it, whether it's putting an email together, writing them up or providing me with templates. Sometimes it's not my favorite thing to do because there’s a lot to it, but TriNet has helped me get through those situations.”
With over 180 federal laws governing workplace activities, and even more that are specific to New York state and cities, businesses like MHS Artists are often confounded with understanding how to comply with requirements around HR, payroll and benefits. By working with TriNet, employment-related risks are mitigated with support of a team of HR experts and robust technology. “TriNet's been really supportive. As right-brained creatives, and even for my CFO, we don't want to have to think about all those employment-related things. New York is not an easy place to have a business—you have to be compliant in all kinds of areas. But TriNet helps make it so easy; we don't have to worry about that stuff,” acknowledged Mary.
The TriNet platform is designed to automatically put certain applicable processes in place for compliance with a particular state or locality’s employment and payroll tax withholding requirements. “There are so many changes all the time that I would need a whole HR person here to stay on top of it. It's just too much, so that's one of the biggest reasons that we value TriNet as well,” said Mary. She also greatly values TriNet experts who conduct on-site assessments at their set shop to help review potential risks with machinery and fabrication, a service that TriNet provides to certain customers based on their industry. While TriNet helps with the administrative HR tasks and maintaining compliance with HR requirements, Jackie and Mary can focus on crucial functions like billing, employee development and designing spectacular sets—not endless internet searches or expensive legal spends to receive accurate HR guidance.
“It's so hard and painful to have a business, but it's so exciting and really incredible. It is like a rollercoaster,” described Mary. “TriNet supports us in a way where they're going to help us move along. I only want to grow, not necessarily bigger, but grow in all kinds of ways, like get our set designers excellent jobs, get more photo studios, build more sets in the fabrication shop and grow the prop house. Growth is just the natural evolution of having a business. You want to see it get bigger, better, stronger, and we definitely need TriNet to help us change and comply along the way.”