Published March 20, 2012
Volume 20, Number 3

Employee Benefit Specialists Enjoys Expansion   

Joan Rhodes has seen EBS expand dramatically since the introduction
of Workterra.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Celebrating a quarter-century in business this year, Employee Benefit Specialists (EBS) has moved to bigger offices roughly a dozen times in its history, a few of them since arriving in Hacienda in 2000. The latest entails an expansion into a spacious suite downstairs at its current address, 5935 Gibraltar Drive.

In large part the growth can be attributed to the success of EBS's proprietary product, Workterra, an Internet-based employee benefit enrollment system that connects directly to carriers. Introduced in 2006, Workterra “utilizes the newest technology to bring together online enrollment, laptop enrollment, decision support, Human Resources, and Payroll integration into one application.” It requires a single implementation and is available through a simple Internet connection 24/7, explains EBS President Joan Rhodes.

“We were right on target when we thought that employers, whether big or small, would want an online solution,” Rhodes comments. It offers many efficiencies that really help in a tight economy, such as ready access to benefit costs for preparing budgets and reports. Employers can focus their HR staff on planning and other important issues, rather than paperwork.

Another wise choice was developing the system in-house. “We had leased software before and ran into limitations,” Rhodes notes. “Building our own system gave us the opportunity to use our expertise as benefits administrators to incorporate the features we know our clients need. For instance, the online system provides the flexibility for employers to customize employee benefit eligibility based on divisions or bargaining units. Creating a proprietary system allowed us to build an environment to handle the most complex clients.

“We’re very happy we chose to create an online system,” she continues. “We felt it would be a good direction, but you are never totally certain. It has turned out to be one of the best decisions we have made within the company.”

The benefits administration side of the company also continues to be a strong performer. EBS's longevity and emphasis on customer service have kept client attrition rates low, while Workterra has brought in new business. Clients who come onboard for online services quickly realize that with the company’s other offerings they can enjoy “a one-stop-shop for bill reconciliation, Flex, COBRA, Retirees, call center functions, etc.,” Rhodes points out.

The open, airy environment created in the refurbished space downstairs has had a positive impact on the EBS workforce. “This is a different kind of workplace for our company,” she comments. As a service provider, she readily acknowledges that her employees are the company's biggest asset—and not just because three of her four children have opted to work in the business.

“Now we are all more integrated and able to talk to each other more easily,” she says. Lower-height workstations promote visibility and foster communication. Two large conference rooms, equipped with high-tech 70-inch screens, provide a comfortable setting for product demonstrations.

“I love innovation,” Rhodes notes. “It's energizing for everyone.”

For more information, visit www.ebsbenefits.com.

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