When they needed more support, Front turned to Sparrow for full-service employee leave management.
A leading customer operations platform, Front helps sales, support, and account management teams provide exceptional service. The company’s mission: make work happier. By combining the efficiency of a help desk with the familiarity of email, Front streamlines customer communication and maximizes operational efficiency for more than 8,000 businesses.
Founded in 2013 by CEO Mathilde Collin, Front has raised over $204 million in venture funding—with no sign of slowing down soon. The company has 270 employees globally, with offices in major metropolitan hubs like San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, and Dublin.
Carrying out their mission requires efficient internal processes and engaged employees. That’s why Front partners with Sparrow for end-to-end leave of absence administration.
Creating an employee-driven culture
Front believes strong relationships are the foundation of successful businesses—and successful, happy people. “Our culture is very employee-driven,” said Jessica Simmons, Senior Manager, People Operations at Front. “We put a lot of intention and effort into listening to our employees and soliciting feedback from them.”
Front’s core values—transparency, care, high standards, collaboration, and low ego—represent the way they treat their employees. “We’re very open and collaborative. We know feedback is a gift. Hearing different perspectives ensures we’re thinking about projects comprehensively and from as many angles as possible,” Simmons explained.
Thanks to their values-driven leadership and inclusive work culture, Front has built a reputation for excellent employee care. Among other impressive rankings, Front is listed in Forbes’ fifth annual list of America’s Best Startup Employers, Inc’s Best Workplaces of 2022, and Business Insider’s compilation of Best Startups to Work For in 2022.
“We aim to give our employees a work experience that’s valuable and meaningful,” Simmons said. That’s one reason Front offers a variety of employee benefits, including fully covered healthcare, flexible time off, retirement savings, paid parental leave, volunteer time, commuter benefits, and wellness programs.
The challenge: Managing leave logistics internally on an efficient timeline
As part of their commitment to employee well-being, Front has always offered generous paid leave to employees—but managing those leaves on the backend was taxing. “We used to manage leave in house. It was primarily an ongoing project between one of our people operation specialists and our payroll manager,” said Simmons.
Figuring out leave logistics was a perpetual scramble, according to Simmons. “With every leave, we’d have to start over, taking a very scrappy approach for every person to identify which programs they’d be eligible for,” she explained.
“It was a constant back and forth of asking, ‘Where is the employee located? What do we need to do to check all the compliance boxes for their leave? Do they meet the specific criteria? Did we get all the paperwork completed? Is the support from our short-term disability provider in line with what we were forecasting?’”
Between double-checking state laws and completing paperwork to talking to insurance providers and interfacing with employees, Simmons and her team had a lot of different plates to keep in the air.
“It was always a challenge making sure employees got their paperwork done. Because not only is an employee dealing with a potentially sensitive life event that requires much more of their attention than paperwork during leave, but the paperwork itself can be very complex for someone who isn’t familiar with it,” she explained.
As a result, Front’s people operations team spent countless hours following up with employees. “There was usually an element of chasing in order to get the employee to either complete their paperwork or update us with what was or wasn’t received,” Simmons said.
Paperwork wasn’t the only obstacle, though—reconciling payroll was also complicated. “We spent a significant amount of time making sure our payroll numbers were accurate. We had to look at what the employees should have been receiving from us and reconcile that with what was received from either state and/or short term disability providers,” explained Simmons.
The leave management process was tedious for both Front employees taking leave and Front’s people operations and payroll teams. “Ultimately, we spent a lot of time invested in each individual leave of absence case,” Simmons said.
The solution: Finding a leave provider who offered end-to-end support
When managing leaves internally proved too inefficient, Simmons sought a better solution. “I worked with Sparrow in the past at a previous company and had both good feedback from an administrative perspective, and also from our employees at that time,” she said.
“Because of my history with Sparrow, I had a lot of confidence that there were more tangible leave admin solutions out there for us that were not only affordable and gave us a great return on our investment, but also improved the quality of life for both the administrators and anyone who was actually going out on a leave of absence,” she explained.
Being at a new company, Simmons still had to do her due diligence on vendors in the leave of absence market. Her extensive research backed up her personal experience with Sparrow, confirming her initial assessment that Sparrow was the best choice for Front.
The primary appeal of Sparrow, Simmons said, is the attention they’re able to provide. “It’s a night and day difference,” she explained. “When we’re managing leaves in house, we’re limited in the experience we can offer because we have so many other priorities that constantly need our attention, whereas Sparrow is able to focus all their attention on just leave of absence, which I think is an incredible thing.”
In addition to staying up to date on state leave laws and ensuring compliance, Sparrow also handles all leave-related paperwork, filling it out for both Front’s people team and employees who take leave.
Front’s internal processing is much more streamlined as a result. “Sparrow gives us updates along the way, like if there are changes to someone’s leave date,” Simmons said. “It makes it so much easier to update our managers and stakeholders, and ensure that the payroll plans we’re creating are correct.”
Sparrow’s automatic payroll calculations and payroll reports also cut down on errors and ensure Front is able to pay their employees promptly and easily. “We spend a lot less time trying to figure out what kind of reconciliation is needed to make sure the employee is receiving what they should have received,” Simmons added.
Partnering with Sparrow has been a time and money saver on multiple fronts. “The amount of time and resources we’re saving from an administrative perspective is huge,” she explained. “You can quantify the number of hours our HR team spends on each specific leave case and the number of hours our payroll team spends on particular cases. You can even quantify the amount of lost productivity from each employee taking leave who’s spending time filling out paperwork instead of working or spending time with their family and bonding.”
Sparrow also offers Front more security and peace of mind when it comes to compliance. “If we end up in a sticky situation because we misclassified something or handled leave paperwork incorrectly, there’s a financial penalty that can also be quantified,” Simmons explained. “With Sparrow, we reduce that risk.”
Another area where Sparrow has supported Front is leave policy consultation. “One thing I really like about Sparrow is that they review your leave policies to see where you can improve,” said Simmons. “They also provide benchmark data, which is really helpful when trying to make decisions about your approach to the policy and its benefits as a whole.”
Simmons also appreciates Sparrow’s expertise in navigating complex leave cases. “We work with an employer of record for some of our employees who live in states we’re not registered in, and Sparrow works with our account manager on that side to help adapt the process,” she explained. “Despite the fact that it requires more effort and intention on Sparrow’s part, our employees are still getting the same level of high-quality service, which is amazing.”
The result: A more cohesive, less stressful employee experience
Partnering with Sparrow has simplified Front’s internal leave administration and massively improved their employee experience. “Employees have more clarity on leave and the experience is a lot more streamlined,” Simmons said.
Front’s people team loves the simplicity of working with Sparrow. “The employee will send a loose request to HR saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got a leave of absence.’ We take a look at their initial details then send an introduction to Sparrow. Sparrow responds and offers a time to set up a call. At that point, the employees learn what they’re eligible for and get an overview of the process,” Simmons explained.
Sparrow doesn’t just correspond directly with Front employees to explain their options and answer questions—Sparrow also fills out paperwork for employees, reaches out to healthcare providers on their behalf, and coordinates their payments on leave.
“Right from the beginning, our employees know they’re in good hands,” said Simmons. “Their experience as a whole is much more consistent. There are a lot fewer questions. And ultimately, there’s a lot more confidence and trust both with Sparrow and with Front as a company.”
That trust has had a profound ripple effect, cementing Front’s reputation as an employee-centered workplace. “From an employment perspective, in terms of maintaining employee well-being and happiness, working with Sparrow is incredibly valuable,” Simmons added. “And our employees know their experience with our company is only going to get better, which is great to see.”
Sparrow makes leave management easier for everyone—from people ops teams and payroll to employees on leave. If you need a high-touch, robust solution to leave of absence administration, consider partnering with Sparrow. Learn more by explore our offerings or book a demo today.