How Electric Saved 20+ Hours per Leave by Transitioning Away From Spreadsheets

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Sparrow x Electric

When Electric needed backend and employee-facing support, the IT management company came to Sparrow for employee leave management.

Electric is an IT management company dedicated to building up small businesses. Using a single platform to manage people, applications, and devices, Electric helps companies streamline IT management and enhance security—while cutting IT spending in half.

Electric’s mission is to make IT easier for small businesses—and they’re following through on their promise. Founded in 2016, Electric fulfills over 44,000 IT tickets every month, powering IT for more than 900 companies and 50,000+ users.

Behind the company’s user-friendly tools and excellent customer service are 400 innovative, passionate employees around the globe. To support those employees, Electric uses Sparrow for full-service employee leave management.

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Caring above all else

Electric hasn’t just made a splash in the IT industry—the company has also developed a reputation as an amazing place to work. In addition to earning the coveted Certified Great Place to Work title, Electric also made Great Place to Work’s 2021 list of Best Workplaces for Parents, Forbes’ 2022 list of America’s Best Startup Employers, and Fortune’s 2021 list of Best Workplaces in New York.

“One of our core values at Electric is caring above all else,” said Lourdes Rivera, the Vice-President of People at Electric. “Everyone—from our leadership team to our employees—tries to demonstrate that value every day.”

For Electric, caring above all else means creating a sense of community in the workplace and prioritizing employee well-being and happiness over employee output. To do that, Electric offers a wide range of medical, financial, and lifestyle benefits, including: medical, vision, dental, and orthodontia coverage; 401(k) and stock options; mental wellness days; volunteer days; flexible paid time off; family planning assistance; paid medical, family, and military leave; paid parental leave; and career development programs.

Electric also regularly reevaluates their benefits package and looks for opportunities to improve their offerings. One of the ways they did that was by partnering with Sparrow for simpler employee leave management.

"Sparrow saves us money by saving us time. Using Sparrow eliminated the stress and confusion of tracking paperwork."

Lourdes Rivera Headshot Lourdes Rivera
Vice-President of People

The challenge: Managing employee leaves with spreadsheets and unreliable data

Before reaching out to Sparrow in 2022, Electric handled employee leave administration internally. “All our leave details were in spreadsheets,” Rivera said. “We tried to capture as much information as possible regarding leave types and start dates and eligibility, but it was clunky and unreliable. We were missing information and leaves would get added to the sheet incomplete.”

One of the primary challenges with Electric’s manual leave system was compliance. “It was frustrating not being able to rely on accurate data from a compliance perspective,” explained Rivera. Reconciling Electric’s company leave policies with individual state leave laws and federal FMLA requirements proved tricky, especially with limited insight into each unique leave case.

Another obstacle Electric faced was adjusting payroll for people on leave. “Payroll was a huge pain point,” Rivera added. “We used a template payroll schedule, but it was never filled in properly, which made it confusing trying to determine what our employees should be paid by Electric versus our benefits carriers.”

"Sparrow saves our employees from spending hours filling out paperwork or calling insurance providers and doctors."

Lourdes Rivera Headshot Lourdes Rivera
Vice-President of People

It was easy to miscalculate payroll and risk overpaying employees, especially because nearly half of Electric’s workforce was hourly. “It’s hard to go back and correct overpayments,” she explained. “That cost us a lot in terms of money and time lost.”

Electric’s people team ended up spending a significant chunk of their week managing employee leaves. “Between educating employees on what they’re eligible for, maintaining employee communication, filling out paperwork back and forth, following up, calculating what employees should be paid, and connecting with the vendors, we usually spent 20 to 24 hours per leave—and those were just the straightforward leaves,” Rivera said. More complex leave cases ate up even more hours.

After about six months of managing leaves internally, Rivera decided Electric needed to outsource leaves to a competent provider. “I’ve seen a lot of products in the leave admin market throughout my career, especially those from major medical insurance and disability insurance carriers, but I found that they didn’t meet our needs,” she explained.

Rivera wanted to bring white glove service into the leave process—and that led her to Sparrow. “When I learned about Sparrow having this third arm of employee support in their services, on top of handling paperwork and payroll, that really attracted me to want to learn more,” she said.

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The solution: Partnering with an end-to-end leave provider

Rivera had a few goals when searching for a leave provider: simplify compliance, tighten up payroll, and give Electric employees a more positive leave experience.

“Leaves can be really complicated, especially for employees trying to navigate a stressful or sensitive time in their lives,” Rivera explained. “So to hear that Sparrow had three distinct areas of support—for HR, payroll, and employees on leave—really sold me.”

Rivera no longer has to fill out leave paperwork and deal with lengthy back-and-forth email threads with employees. Sparrow downloads, completes, and submits the correct forms for Electric’s people team and Electric employees preparing for leave.

“There was so much chasing on our part before,” she added. “But Sparrow has removed the stress and confusion of tracking paperwork, and also ramped up our efficiency.”

Sparrow communicates directly with employees, vendors, and healthcare providers to streamline the entire paperwork process and reduce response times. “We had a mental health medical leave request that was approved within 24 hours, just one business day, thanks to Sparrow,” Rivera said.

Sparrow also takes compliance off of the people team’s plate. Electric employees live and work in 27 different states, and Sparrow Leave Specialists keep track of every applicable state law to ensure compliance.

Rivera loves having access to Electric’s leave and compliance information at a glance. “I can go into the Sparrow dashboard at any time and run a report that shows which leaves are active, pending, or complete, what types of leaves we have, and the length of leaves,” she explained. “Having such a large volume of current, accurate data is really valuable to me as a people leader and really important for us as a fast-growing company.”

Electric also saves time with Sparrow’s automatic payroll calculations and payroll reports. “Our payroll professional loves Sparrow’s accuracy with payroll and the visibility she gets into the payment breakdown,” said Rivera. Last-minute leave date changes and unique circumstances can all complicate payroll calculations, but with Sparrow, Electric doesn’t have to worry.

"Sparrow is not just helping us stay compliant and maintain payroll accuracy, they're providing our employees with a positive experience in a stressful time."

Lourdes Rivera Headshot Lourdes Rivera
Vice-President of People

“Our payroll manager can see who’s responsible for which payments and if an adjustment needs to be made,” Rivera added. “For her to feel like she can rely on Sparrow to handle the calculations and ensure accuracy with our vendors has been really valuable from a time and efficiency perspective.”

With Sparrow’s support, Electric went from spending over 20 hours on average for each leave case to just four hours. “Sparrow saves us money by saving us time,” said Rivera. “And they save our employees from having to spend hours during their workday filling out paperwork or calling their insurance providers and doctors.”

More significant than the time, however, is the stress Electric has saved employees going on leave. “We’ve received a lot of great feedback from employees about Sparrow,” Rivera said. “Leave can be so scary and hard, and what we found was that employees were trying to avoid taking leave to care for themselves because they didn’t want to deal with the additional paperwork stress.”

When Electric employees realized how seamless the process was with Sparrow, more employees started taking advantage of leave. In addition to explaining the leave steps to Electric employees, Sparrow Leave Specialists also fill out paperwork on their behalf, coordinate with healthcare providers, and keep Electric’s people team in the loop.

“We recently had an employee who was dealing with severe postpartum medical and health issues, and needed to extend her parental leave,” Rivera said. “Sparrow came in and told our employee, ‘Let me work with you and Electric to navigate the paperwork and figure out how we can support you in recovering and bonding with your newborn.’”

Sparrow advocated for a new medical leave for the employee in question, and took the time to interface with the appropriate insurance and disability vendors to make it happen. “That’s a prime example of why we partner with Sparrow,” explained Rivera. “They’re not just helping us stay compliant with HR laws and maintain payroll accuracy, but they’re giving our employees a positive experience in a stressful time.”

Sparrow’s white glove customer service and dedication is what Electric appreciates most about working with them. “Sparrow is an extension of our team. Because caring above all else is one of our core values, we never want leave of absences to feel like a ‘check the box’ process,” said Rivera. “We want our employees to feel like the service they’re getting from our partner is what they would receive from our people team—and Sparrow makes our employees feel completely taken care of.”

"I've been in HR for 20 years. This is the first time I've worked with a vendor who is doing what we need both operationally and strategically."

Lourdes Rivera Headshot Lourdes Rivera
Vice-President of People

The result: More time to invest in employees and improve company benefits

Partnering with Sparrow has been a win for Electric on every level, starting with HR admin and extending all the way into employee care. “I’ve been in HR for 20 years overseeing benefits,” Rivera said. “This is the first time I’ve worked with a vendor who’s actually doing what we need from a day-to-day operational tasks perspective, and also covering the strategic, relational component that was missing from the market.”

For Electric, Sparrow’s leave expertise has been crucial to improving their overall leave policies and employee experience. “When we first partnered with Sparrow, we started to talk about our leave benefits and compare them to the market. And Sparrow’s benchmarks and market data showed us that we were slightly behind in terms of what we offered,” Rivera explained.

“We took the information from Sparrow and presented it to our executive leadership team and said, ‘Based on our core values and what the market shows, we should be making improvements,’” she said.

Not only did Sparrow help Electric make the language in their employee handbook clearer and more digestible, they also suggested actionable changes to make Electric’s leave offerings more compassionate and competitive. “We added paid military leave and paid family leave to care for a family member. And we increased our parental leave benefits,” Rivera said.

For Electric, these changes are just part of their ongoing pursuit of excellent employee care. “We want to support all employees going through life changes,” she added, “and it’s important to make sure our policies and benefits reflect that.”

Sparrow’s high-touch leave services cover every area of leave management, from HR administration and payroll to compliance and employee well-being. If you’re ready to streamline leave management and save valuable time, explore our offerings or book a demo today.