After working with a less complete LOA provider, Betterment switched to Sparrow for an end-to-end leave management solution.
Betterment is a financial advisory company that provides digital investment, retirement, and cash management services to over 800,000 customers. Betterment’s mission is to improve people’s lives so they can achieve whatever they want with their money—no matter how big or small. Among their offerings are high-yield, cash reserve accounts, automated investing portfolios, and individual retirement accounts.
Headquartered in New York City, Betterment also has hubs in Denver and Washington DC, plus remote employees across dozens of states in the US. To support their employees in and out of the workplace, Betterment uses Sparrow for full-service employee leave administration.
Holistic employee care
Betterment transforms their customers’ lives with innovative ideas and automated investing technology. To do that, they rely on more than 400 talented employees with diverse skills and perspectives.
“We have a holistic approach to caring for our employees,” said Bailee Roces, People Operations Specialist at Betterment. “We know one size doesn’t fit all, so we do our best to cater to every different employee’s needs.”
That’s why Betterment offers a variety of thoughtful employee benefits, including hybrid work options for local employees and a workstation setup stipend and monthly snack boxes for remote employees. Other benefits include comprehensive medical, dental, and vision insurance; flexible time off; 401(k) matching; employee stock options; catered lunches; fertility support; LGBTQIA+ transition support; and three to five months of paid parental leave.
In addition to prioritizing company-wide Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) education, Betterment also supports seven employee resource groups (ERGs) by offering resources and funds for new and ongoing initiatives.
“We pride ourselves on maintaining an open and inclusive workplace culture—we want everyone to feel heard and valued at Betterment,” said Roces.
The challenge: Managing employee leaves with a disjointed system and hands-off provider
One of Betterment’s goals is to give their employees a stress-free leave experience. However, their leave management system was disjointed and inefficient. “The leave management platform we used before Sparrow was not people-centric,” Roces said.
Instead of guiding Betterment employees through the leave process or taking over the paperwork completely, the previous leave administrator simply passed out paperwork with minimal instructions.
“Our employees were confused, and there was a lot of miscommunication and missed steps,” Roces added. Paperwork often wasn’t filled out properly or submitted at all, and Roces had to double-check everything.
“Figuring out payments and streamlining processes was difficult,” she explained. “I would audit a process myself, then develop and implement a more efficient approach, only to discover the process wasn’t being followed. We had to go back to the drawing board a lot to figure out why things weren’t working.”
The previous leave administrator also relied heavily on Roces for input and hand-holding. “When you partner with a vendor, you expect them to be the expert, but our experience was the other way around. I often felt like the specialist, and ended up providing our leave administrator with a lot more information and advice than I expected,” she explained.
That’s why Betterment began looking for new leave management providers. “We have a lean people operations team, and we needed an expert we could trust to take a hands-on approach to the entire process,” said Roces.
They found what they were looking for with Sparrow’s end-to-end leave management.
The solution: Using Sparrow to save time and improve the employee experience
After working with a less complete leave administration provider and dealing with the additional stress caused, Betterment partnered with Sparrow to take over leave management. “What stood out most to us when we were looking at providers was that Sparrow emphasized that they were an extension of the HR team, which is exactly what we were looking for,” Roces said.
Sparrow handles paperwork, compliance, and payroll reconciliation, saving Roces and her team dozens of hours per month. “I used to spend 40% of my time managing leaves and fixing mistakes, but with Sparrow, that is down to less than 10%,” she explained.
Sparrow fills out all of Betterment’s leave paperwork for HR and employees and sends pre-filled forms for signatures. “It saves so much time, and has increased our efficiency tenfold,” Roces added.
She also appreciates the peace of mind Sparrow offers. “I love that Sparrow Leave Specialists are even more capable than I am. Employee leave is their area of expertise, so I trust that I can pass anything onto them and they’ll be able to figure it out.”
Not only that, but Roces can trust Sparrow to consult on Betterment’s leave policies and practices. “I love being able to ask, ‘Have you seen this at other companies? How do you approach these types of problems? What do you see as the best practices?’” she added.
Another area where Betterment has simplified its process thanks to Sparrow is payroll calculations and reconciliations. “The real-time payroll updates Sparrow provides are incredible,” Roces explained. “With our previous vendor, there were a lot of payroll discrepancies and they would change things without alerting us. That made it difficult to explain what went wrong to employees who were confused about their pay.”
Sparrow, on the other hand, updates Betterment’s payroll automatically and regularly gives Roces and the payroll team easy-to-read reports. “If any payroll changes do occur, I trust Sparrow to connect with our employees and explain what happened, and I know that will be a seamless conversation.”
Sparrow’s people-oriented approach to leave management means Sparrow Leave Specialists meet with Betterment employees directly to address paperwork concerns and pay questions, as well as provide educational resources about what leave looks like from an employee perspective.
“Going out on leave can be anxiety-inducing, complex, and confusing. We want to give employees peace of mind during their leave so they can focus on the major life event ahead of them, instead of stressing about paperwork and paychecks,” Roces said. “It’s our responsibility to make sure our employees have what they need to take care of themselves—and Sparrow brings both expertise and personalized support.”
Betterment employees appreciate the ease of working with Sparrow Leave Specialists. “Recently, I met with a non-birthing parent who went on leave—he said the whole process was seamless. In fact, he compared the experience to his partner’s, who went on leave at her company and had a much tougher time coordinating with HR and getting the information she needed,” Roces shared. “It just solidified what a great relationship we have with Sparrow.”
The result: A smoother leave experience for employees and more time for people ops
With Sparrow’s full-service leave management support, Betterment has transformed its leave experience—for all parties involved. Not only do Betterment employees have an easier time preparing for and returning from leave, Roces and her team are able to dedicate themselves to other important endeavors in their day-to-day work.
“Partnering with Sparrow has allowed me the time and space to work on other parts of HR that I find exciting, like system organization and data analysis,” she said.
This content from Betterment LLC is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or investment strategy. The information contained is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to constitute investment or tax advice. Advisory services provided by Betterment LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. Investments in securities and digital assets: Not FDIC Insured • No Bank Guarantee • May Lose Value. © Betterment. All rights reserved. Cash Reserve is only available to clients of Betterment LLC, which is not a bank, and cash transfers to program banks are conducted through the clients’ brokerage accounts at Betterment Securities.