eStratEx Manager FAQ Video

Our new software release occurred successfully as planned this last weekend, and our new user interface is up and ready to help our clients manage their employees. We sent full release notes to all clients on Thursday, which included details of each change.

As an added tool, we have created a quick video covering the major changes for managers in the interface. Check it out!



StratEx Serves: United Way

“We rise by lifting others” – Robert Ingersoll

Whew. We made it. The “most wonderful time of the year” is behind us. Also known as: “The busiest and most stressful time of the year.” It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness. Gifts to buy, ship and wrap. Special food that needs to be bought, prepared and baked. Parties and get-togethers with friends and family. B.U.S.Y.

Then, there’s our work at StratEx. HR. Payroll. Benefits. This time of year defines “busy” for this kind of work. In fact, there can be a feeling of initiation for first-timers and a lasting camaraderie of “surviving” Year-End at StratEx. We simply wouldn’t be successful without every StratExian pitching in and working hard to get everything ready for our clients’ new years.

It’d be understandable if we just kept our heads down, focused on the work, and pushed through.

And yet… we choose to take the time to look up and out. We choose to break through the busyness and focus in a way that puts things into perspective.

StratEx Serves: United Way

In honor of the holiday season, our StratEx Serves program was lead by one of our Shared Resource Specialists, Kira Gavigan, to team up with the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago for their annual holiday gift drive. Through the United Way, we were given the opportunity to participate in their Adopt-a-Family program to help a family in need this holiday season.

We were honored to gather winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves for the two adults and three children in our adopted family. We also included gift cards for the adults, clothes, books, and crayons for the children, and a doll for our family’s 6 year-old girl.


Once all of the items were gathered, Kira, Alyssa Garza (Benefits Administrator) and Madeline McDonnell (HR Account Manager), dropped them off at United Way. In mid-December, our adopted family was one of 400 families that United Way was able to provide with gifts.

Kira Gavigan and Madeline McDonnell dropping off gifts for our adopted family.

According to the United Way:

“Our Adopt-a-Family program supports families in need in Brighton Park, Cicero and Robbins/Blue Island. This year, 2,016 individuals received gifts ranging from clothing, to kitchen wear to bicycles. We distributed the gifts to families in each neighborhood during festive holiday parties.”

Kira shared this about the experience:

“Adopt-a-family has been a cause that’s near and dear to my heart since I was child helping pick out gifts for others in my hometown. I can’t imagine anything as sad a little boy or girl waking up on Christmas with no presents, through no fault of their own.

I was really touched by the generosity of so many people at StratEx. It made me proud to work for a company with so many people who genuinely care about making a positive impact in the world around us, and taking action to follow through. There’s a line from Robert Ingersoll that has been repeated over and over in my house growing up, “We rise by lifting others.” I am excited to work at a company that clearly exemplifies this.”

Me too, Kira.

Cheers to a prosperous New Year from StratEx!

Get to Know a StratExian: Alyssa Garza

Name: Alyssa Garza

alyssa1History at StratEx:
I started in June of 2014 as a Benefit Administrator and have continued to grow within this position. I help clients administer and maintain all benefit offerings for their employees, throughout the entire employee lifecycle — from new hire to COBRA.

How have you helped a client solve an HR or Benefit problem?
Our restaurant clients often have the same challenges: they have multiple benefit tiers (employees that are eligible vs. not eligible), multiple plan offerings (which can be location-based), and multiple locations with multiple location managers — all of which can make things a little chaotic at times.

However, we help them track it all. We are the one-stop shop for all locations and all employees when it comes to benefits — we take the headache away from them. Restaurants don’t necessarily have the time for this stuff, nor do they have people who truly understand the benefit/COBRA administration. I think that is why we are so helpful to them.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals!

What’s on your bucket list this year?
I don’t know about this year, but definitely want to make my way to Thailand! Have always loved elephants and would love to go to an elephant sanctuary out there.

Which Benefit topic is your Patronus?
It’s hard to just pick one when you deal with all of the different benefits on a daily basis, but COBRA administration has always kinda been my baby!

Are you an ice cream, or cookie/cake person?
Ice Cream — favorite is chocolate chip cookie dough.

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
“Doesn’t always have a filter when speaking…” or, “Major OCD.” (Joe can speak to how much he loves my OCD!)

Favorite thing about working at StratEx:
The people, hands down!

Advice to new StratExians:
If you ever get overwhelmed — which I know none of us ever do — eat some candy and ask Emily Quinn to tell you a funny story 🙂


Get to Know a StratExian: Katie Samuelson

Name: Katie Samuelson

ks1History at StratEx:
I started at StratEx in March of 2015 as a Service Specialist and have since been promoted to a Project Specialist. In this role, I help clients implement our HR software, eStratEx, and I train them on the system modules they will use. I like that I continue to be on my client’s Service Team even after implementation, helping resolve any questions or issues that may arise! I have also recently taken on the title of StratEx’s Social Media Ambassador.

How have you helped a client solve an HR or Payroll problem?
I think our software specifically helps our clients’ payroll and HR needs because its a one-stop shop for all things HR/payroll related. eStratEx gives our clients the ability to manage everything in one place – payroll, recruitment, timekeeping, etc. I’ve seen a lot of our clients that have transitioned from a paper process to our paperless process, which is always a cool transition to see. On the StratEx Service Team, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback in the sense that our software gives our clients that ability to manage everything in one place without feeling overwhelmed. As a team, we help with that transition to ensure the client feels educated and confident in their ability to utilize eStratEx in the best way possible. 

What’s on your bucket list this year?
The year is almost over, which is crazy! But, I definitely want to relearn Spanish, go bungee jumping and head to Asia in 2017!

If you could travel, would you travel to the past or the future?
Past for sure! There have been so many cool eras and decades. I’d love to go back to the 20’s, 60’s and witness some of the major events that have occurred.

Which HR/Payroll topic is your Patronus?
I’d probably say learning and development because I absolutely love training!

Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Kate Hudson – she’s so bubbly and easy going.

Backpacking or Luxury Hotel?
I think a mix of both is the way to do it. It’s fun to be outdoorsy, but also feel like you can relax in a nice hotel for a few nights.

Favorite thing about working at StratEx:
The people! I love that I have the opportunity to work with smart, encouraging and fun (funny – cough Eric) people each day!

Advice to new StratExians:
I think my biggest piece of advice would be to assert yourself as someone who is ready to hit the ground running. But, I’d also say it’s okay to not know the answers to everything. You won’t have all the answers in one day, and we are working in the software/tech industry so there will always be new advancements in technology. It’s good to turn to others for help and guidance. If you have the expectation to just kind of constantly be learning and asking questions, you’ll be in a good spot. That, and having a positive attitude really does make a huge difference!


New Overtime Regulations: What you need to know

Gretchen-Van-VlymenStratEx’s Gretchen Van Vlymen recently contributed to a SHRM article written by Dana Wilke, The Nuts and Bolts of Complying with the New Overtime Regulations. Click here for the full article, but here are a few highlights:

  • The annual salary threshold for employees exempt from overtime pay will increase from $23,660 to $47,476 on December 1st.
  • Gretchen reports it is taking our HR Account Managers at StratEx from eight to 24 hours with each client to navigate through the new regulations and implement the changes necessary to be compliant with the rule. The DOL estimated it would take one hour per company.
  • Hospitality and restaurant companies can be particularly tricky to figure out, with variable or unpredictable hours, split roles and other considerations.
  • Paycheck deductions tied to benefits may need to be reviewed and updated if benefit offerings are affected based on employee exemption statuses.

If you have questions about the new overtime regulations and how they may affect your employees’ exemption statuses, StratEx can help you navigate this, and other tricky HR and Payroll related topics. Contact us now for more information.

StratEx Serves: Gilda’s Club

Gene Wilder died yesterday. When I saw his name trending on Twitter, I cringed as clicked on it, hoping that wasn’t the news.

WilderRadnerOf course, he was the original (and best) Willy Wonka, but one thing many may not remember or know is that he was once married to the effervescent Gilda Radner. Gilda was one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, well-known for her characters ‘Rosanne Rosannadanna’ and ‘Emily Litella’ among others. She won an Emmy award for her work on SNL, and to this day, remains one of the most beloved cast members of all-time.

Gilda was diagnosed in 1986 with ovarian cancer. She once said that cancer gave her “membership to an elite club I’d rather not belong to”. She died in 1989 at the age of 42, with Gene by her side.

In her honor, Gene co-founded the nonprofit “Gilda’s Club” in 1991, which provides free support for those affected by cancer– both those with cancer, and those that love and care for someone with cancer. Support groups, counseling, education and a sense of community are provided, “so that no one has to face cancer alone”.

StratEx Serves

When a new employee starts at StratEx, I create a quick introduction of them and email it out company-wide. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job. To tease out the details for the intro, I ask them some questions and reference their resume. One thing that is present on nearly every resume I receive: volunteer work. Almost every single StratExian has a heart for volunteering.

StratEx ServesWe knew this was an area where our company should follow the lead of our employees. We are proud to announce our new initiative: StratEx Serves.

Gilda’s Club of Chicago was an easy choice for the focus of our first StratEx Serves event.

This nonprofit is especially important to two StratExians, so they knew that one service that Gilda’s Club offers is art therapy. For two weeks in July and August, we held a drive for arts and crafts supplies to be donated directly to Gilda’s Club of Chicago. We didn’t know what to expect, so we set an initial goal of 50 items.

Happy to report: Goal exceeded!

GlidasClubAGCWe estimate we gathered more than 175 arts and crafts items. These were dropped of at Gilda’s Club of Chicago by Madeline McDonnell, one of our HR Account Managers and Gretchen Van Vlymen, our VP of Account Management.

We look forward to following the lead of our fellow StratExians again and again to serve our community through StratEx Serves.

Rest in peace, Mr. Wilder, and thank you for your work.

StratEx Awarded Chicago’s 2016 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®


Chicago-based Human Resources Consulting Firm Recognized for Exceptional Workplace Culture For Second Consecutive Year

CHICAGO – June 23, 2016 – StratEx, a Chicago-based provider of human resources software and service, has been recognized as one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® in Chicago by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR). This marks the second year StratEx has won the award.

Chicago101BBlogo4cWwtype-139x300“Our employees are at the core of everything we do,” said Adam Ochstein, Founder and CEO of StratEx. “It’s an honor to be recognized for the culture we have created, and it is truly a testament to all of our hard-working and passionate employees.”

The award, which is sponsored by the NABR, recognizes companies that use an innovative and thoughtful approach to human resources. Through a third-party research firm, companies are evaluated based on compensation and benefits, employee engagement and retention, employee development and training initiatives, work-life balance, community initiatives and corporate strategies.

The 2016 winners were divided into small, medium, and large business categories, StratEx being among the small business category.

“Companies that recognize that their employees are the key to their success achieve staying power,” said Jennifer Kluge, President and CEO of MBPA. “Our 2016 winners create their human resource standards to ensure employee satisfaction and they set standards for every business to aspire toward.”

The 2016 Best and Brightest awards ceremony was held on July 15, 2016 at the Chicago Marriott Southwest at Burr Ridge. For more information on the award, please visit

For more information on StratEx, please visit or contact Heather Youkhana at 312-496-6562 or


About StratEx

Founded in 2003, StratEx is a provider of human resources services and software, helping companies manage the entire employee lifecycle all online, through its proprietary software, eStratEx. From filing resumes and applications, to hiring and onboarding, to time-off requests and payroll processing, to termination, resignation or exit interviews, StratEx helps companies manage the processes so businesses can focus on employee relations StratEx has offices in Chicago, Orlando, NYC, Orange County, and Phoenix. For more information on StratEx, please visit, or call 312-216-2200.

Gretchen Van Vlymen Named 2016 Game Changer by Workforce Magazine

GameChangers_Logo_2Leading human resources and talent management publication, Workforce Magazine, recently announced its recognition of Gretchen Van Vlymen, Vice President of Account Management at StratEx, on its 2016 “Game Changers” list.

This prestigious award recognizes the top 25 innovative rising stars within the human resources industry for their positive impact on the present and future of the human resources profession.  Winners of this accolade are a diverse group representing some of the best human resources practitioners and strategists who are dedicated to pushing the profession forward with innovative people-management practices.

WF_0815_GameChangerLogo“It is incredibly humbling to be listed among this innovative group of professionals,” said Van Vlymen. “At StratEx, we are continually encouraged to seek out and implement cutting edge human resources strategy, and I’m lucky to work for a company that has empowered me to put these tactics into action for our clients.”

Workforce Magazine is a multimedia publication that covers the intersection of people management and business strategy. The content helps human resources professionals approach their jobs from a more strategic, big-picture, business-results perspective.

Van Vlymen joined StratEx as a Human Resources Account Manager in 2010. In her current role, she now oversees the delivery and execution of all human resources consulting and benefit administration services while managing overall client satisfaction. Van Vlymen ensures that each employer is provided with sound advice from her team of dedicated human resources professionals to reduce liability associated with all facets of day-to-day human resources. 

“Gretchen is an invaluable member of our team,” said Founder and CEO of StratEx, Adam Ochstein. “Between helping create our incredible human resources and benefits team, to making unique connections with clients, Gretchen has made, and continues to make, an incredible impact on the company.”

Winners will be profiled in the August 2016 issue of Workforce Magazine.