In 2001 Brad Wilson was a broke college student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who didn’t want to part with $2500 for a ThinkPad from the college bookstore. He found a few early ecommerce sites — and his professional calling.
Today, the 90-person Brad’s Deals team reviews, curates and reports on the best deals on the internet. In 2019, they helped consumers save $222 million. And in 2020 they launched both a Loving the Locals and Black-Owned Business programs to help bolster local small businesses.
Brad hired his first people operations leader when he had nine employees. “I was expected to know a little about a lot, so I wanted to be sure I had benefits specialist support,” says Jessica Adams, VP of People at the company. With experience at large Fortune 500 companies, Jessica knew she needed technology to help her optimize her time to build powerful people programming.
In 2017, Jessica selected Zenefits. Both for its market-leading benefits administration support but also for built-in HR and ease of use. “I needed our technology to be easy and user-friendly to ensure adoption and use. Zenefits’ sleek and intuitive user interface was important for our techy team.”
Award-Winning Company and People Operations
Brad’s Deals helps millions of shoppers save money by publishing the best deals from 4,000+ retailers, expert shopping tips, and credit card hacks.
In the process of building a great consumer advantage, they’ve built a great business. The company and its leaders regularly win awards including: Best and Brightest, Best Managers, Workforce Diversity, Wellness, Work-Life Balance, Healthcare Benefits, Recruiting, Vision and Notable Leaders in HR.
Reporting directly to the CEO & Founder, Jessica is responsible for many of those awards based on her fresh thinking about recruiting, development, culture and performance. During her nine-year tenure, the company has grown from 9 to 90 employees and two office locations.
“People Operations has been part of this company from the beginning. We run based on what our employees need. They aren’t afraid to ask —and we are not afraid to listen and pivot.”
For example, Jessica suggested the company use extra office space a few years ago to launch a women in tech accelerator, providing not only space, but access to the Brad’s Deals team for business inputs. From that program, companies ranging from a documentary film-maker to an after hours networking tool to an app for Diversity & Inclusion all came to fruition and are winning accolades in their own right. In return, the company gets to mentor new entrepreneurs and even benefit from their products, like a regular team documentary film screening.
Other smart people operations strategies and results include:
- Holistic wellbeing: The company supports regular ideas and programs across five areas: physical, mental, financial, community and social health. And they’ve continued to prioritize when the company moved from 25% to 100% remote work during the spring of 2020. Programs like: ensuring good home office setups; offering ideas for community involvement; sending healthy care packages; virtual social connection like painting workshops, a Quarantine quiz show, and a virtual Iron Chef competition.
- Diversity and Inclusion: 50% of all employees and half of the management team at Brad’s Deals are women. And the company is currently examining and extending its recruiting philosophy and process to ensure diversity and inclusion efforts are enhanced at every level of the business. Jessica tracks the progress of these diversity and inclusion programs in Zenefits.
- Engagement: Jessica uses the Zenefits check-in functionality to solicit feedback: from every newly onboarded team member, from people who’ve stayed five years and from people who are leaving. She also conducts both quick pulse checks and deeper surveys to review how things are going — including employee wellbeing during COVID-19.
“In people operations, every program has a shelf-life. If you aren’t re-evaluating every 2-3 years, you’re doing yourself, your teams and your business a disservice.”
Building Excellence From an HR Island of One
“When I joined, I was an HR island of one. Now, I have one full-time employee and a few contract team members.
“Without Zenefits, I truly believe we would be to bogged down in the weeds to have successfully launched and advanced the great programs we’ve created in the past few years. I also wouldn’t have had the bandwidth to pursue broader career growth opportunities such as writing for the Forbes HR Council, participating on expert panels, or helping a teammate pass her SHPR accreditation.
“I am naturally curious, which is why I love Zenefits’ ClubZen customer community. It’s great to see hot topics, how others are reacting to them and how Zenefits is thinking about them. For example, thinking through everything required in returning to the office when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. I also like to go there to get input on programs I’m considering or have already created.”
One of those programs, Diversity and Inclusion, earned Jessica a 2020 Zennie Award.
Best Practice: Diversity and Inclusion
To better understand their team and ensure they are building a culture and programs that support them, Brad’s Deals uses Zenefits custom fields to add optional questions in the onboarding process.
“We already love the Zenefits built-in diversity reports, but that doesn’t tell us everything,” says Jessica.
So, we added optional self-identification questions in the hiring flow:
- What is your preferred pronoun?
- Reasonable Accommodations: Do you identify as a person with disabilities? Please provide details on how we can help.
- Do you or anyone in your family have a military background?
- How do you best like to be recognized? Is it with a public shout-out? Is it in a private meeting? Is it through team recognition? Let us know so we can tailor this to you.
“These can be sensitive questions for some, but we are taking baby steps with these questions to begin to build the foundation for a better understanding of what makes each of us so unique and special.
“By asking, we prove that we care about an inclusive environment and supportive managers.
“We have been long-time clients and raving fans of Zenefits.
It’s a product that matches our unique culture and really helps us get a whole picture of our workplace and our diversity, inclusion, and wellness efforts.
VP of People
“From helping us celebrate employees through reminders to prepare for birthday and anniversary festivities to our onboarding of new employees, we’re able to communicate better and grow our company with Zenefits.
“Our partnership with Zenefits aligns with another one of our core values because it supports our culture through constant communication, engagement, and impacts what’s important to us. It complements our tenacious work ethic, competitive spirit, and holistic approach to wellness to produce a fun, innovative, healthy, and rewarding environment.”