StratEx: A Best Place To Work in Illinois in 2016

StratEx Named 2016 “BEST PLACES TO WORK IN ILLINOIS” for Second Consecutive Year

BPTW_logo2016 (2)CHICAGO – June 9, 2016 – StratEx, a Chicago-based provider of human resources software and service, has been selected as one of the 2016 “Best Places to Work in Illinois” for its second consecutive year by the Daily Herald Business Ledger and the Human Resources Management Association of Chicago (HRMAC).

“Being named to this list for the second year in a row is incredibly humbling,” said Founder & CEO of StratEx, Adam Ochstein. “Since inception, I sought to create a company where employees enjoyed coming to work, and getting recognized with this honor is validation of accomplishing that.”

In partnership with HRMAC, the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Advocacy Council, and MRA –The Management Association, the list identifies and honors the best places of employment in Illinois, benefiting the state’s economy, its workforce and businesses.

StratExians (l to r): Julia Guest, Jaclyn Farrell, Marina Kaplunovsky, & Ben Zats

“From the very beginning, we sought to establish our company as a place where each employee feels like an invaluable member of the team,” said Sami Abualsamid, President of StratEx. “We are very excited about our current growth and are eager for the year to come.”

To be eligible for nomination, companies had to have at least 15 employees working in Illinois, be a for-profit or not-for-profit business or government entity, be a publicly or privately-held business, have a facility in the state of Illinois, and must have been in business for a minimum of one year. Participating companies were assessed through a two-part process. The first part consisted of evaluating each company’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure employee experience in the company.

StratEx was recognized at the 2016 “Best Places to Work in Illinois” awards ceremony on Thursday, May 26, 2016, where it was revealed that they placed third in the small business category.

Winners will also be featured in a special publication on June 27, 2016 that will honor and profile each of the awarded companies. 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 software and service, 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 and NYC. For more information on StratEx, please visit, or call 312-216-2200.

About the Daily Herald Business Ledger
The Business Ledger is the leading provider of business news and information about businesses and the economy in suburban Chicago. The Business Ledger is a sister publication to the Daily Herald and part of the Paddock Publications family.

Jim Vedda Award Winner 2016

On May 4th, 2016, StratEx awarded its annual Jim Vedda Award to Jesse Sherwood, our Client Services Manager. Jesse is a shining example of what it means to be a StratExian. She is kind, hard-working, smart and clearly cares about the success of StratEx’s employees and our commitments to our clients. Congratulations to Jesse- well deserved!

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

George Bernard Shaw

Is that email REALLY from your boss? IRS warns of new phishing scheme

Let’s pretend you work in HR or in the payroll department of your company. Or better yet, you ARE the payroll department at your company.

It’s a typical Friday morning… you’re at your desk, planning your day, ready to tackle the odds and ends of the week so you can head into the weekend with a fresh slate.


Oh. An email from the CEO. That may or may not happen very often, but it definitely catches your attention. The email simply says:

Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review.

Who knows what she wants with that information, or how she’ll use it, but she wouldn’t ask for it if she didn’t have a good reason. Right?


hacker1Well, maybe not. That exact email was an example given by the IRS when they recently released a report describing the newest scheme that is being used by cybercriminals to gain access to employee data. The IRS reports that criminals will “spoof” the email address of an executive level employee at a company and will then use that email address to send a request to Payroll or HR for specific, sensitive employee data, including W-2s and social security numbers.

If you receive a communication of this nature, we believe it is worth your time to double check with that person to ensure the request, in fact, came from them.

At StratEx, we take security very seriously. We have many safeguards in place to keep our clients’ employees’ data secure:

  • Customizable Security Roles: So that the users who access employee data will be able to access only what they should, where they should.
  • Security Tokens at Login: Two-factor authentication is required for any security roles that have access to sensitive employee data. This provides an extra layer of security, and an audit trail showing when the user logged in, and whether or not they were successful.
  • Security Audit Trails: When accessing employees’ most sensitive data, like social security numbers, there is another audit trail, showing who accessed it and when.

These security features allow our clients to determine the level of access for each person in their company, and give them the tools to understand who has accessed sensitive data.

We believe keeping sensitive employee data in the database and out of email Inboxes is a best practice for the highest-level of security. So think twice when you get that ping! and a request for a bunch of sensitive data. No matter WHO is asking for it.

7 Steps to a Happy (for HR) Holiday Party

It’s the holiday season, which means your company may be hosting a party. Add some alcohol, and HR goes on high alert! With the input of Laner Muchin, our labor law partners, we’ve put together some quick tips on how to have a safe and happy holiday party that protects your company from the unexpected.

Step 1

Have someone else take responsibility for alcohol. If possible, hold the event at a restaurant, bar or, if at work, catered with bartenders. In each of these cases, the restaurant, bar, or catering company serving the alcohol is responsible for monitoring consumption, not the employer. Make sure to confirm that the venue or catering company has insurance.


Step 2

Protect the Company. Ask employees to sign a waiver acknowledging that they are consuming alcoholic beverages at their own risk and will not hold the company responsible for reckless behavior or unwelcome actions.

Step 3

Set expectations. Send a company-wide email prior to the party with a reminder about the sexual harassment and drug/alcohol policies in the employee handbook. Make sure to point out that explicit behavior will result in discipline up to and including termination.

Step 4

Minimize driving if possible. Arrange for ground transportation like a van or bus to take employees to/from the party.

officeparty3Step 5

Incentivize. Offer to pay a “safety bonus” to employees who volunteer to be designated drivers.

Step 6

Provide information for a back-up plan. Distribute a list of hotels in the area with contact information so employees can easily book a room to avoid drinking and driving.

Step 7

Purchase extra protection. If it’s going to be a large event, secure an insurance policy specifically for the event to avoid excess liability.

Implementing all seven steps may be going a bit overboard, but think about your company, your employees and the kind of holiday party you plan to throw. And then consider implementing the steps that will not only make your holiday party a safety success, but one that would make an HR professional relax and enjoy the party too.

StratEx Webinar: ACA Reporting Requirements and our ACA Module

Did you know: failure to comply with the requirements of the ACA will result in tax penalties, which will be up to $500 per 1095C not filed.

If you are not sure how your company will handle the ACA requirements, we encourage you to attend our webinar at 1pm CST on November 17th. The webinar will cover the most important and challenging parts of the ACA, as well as what our software can do to make your company’s process as friction free as possible.

The webinar will serve two purposes:

  1. To help you understand the vital sections of the ACA that need your attention. We will cover in some detail:
    • The Employer Mandate
    • ACA reporting elements for applicable large employers (ALEs)
    • The Look-back Method
  2. To show you the ACA module in eStratEx and how it can provide you the tools you need to handle all of the requirements of the ACA. This includes:
    • A tool to help you determine if your company is an applicable large employer (ALE)
    • A tool to help you apply the ‘look back’ methodology for tracking variable hour employees’ hours
    • Reporting and filing services included with the module. This includes annual reports that must be filed with the IRS, and annual statements that must be provided to employees


Date: Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
Time: 1:00pm- 2:00pm CST

Who should attend: Management, HR professionals

To learn more about the ACA, and how we can help you navigate the requirements with our ACA module, please join our webinar by registering here:

StratEx HR Webinar: Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

unnamedAre you currently running Background Checks for your applicants or employees?

Do you run credit checks?

Do you ever decide not to hire an applicant based on the results of his/her background check or credit check?

As part of its Human Resources Management Training Series, StratEx is hosting a free webinar on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 from 1pmCT to 2pmCT to help give clear answers to questions like those.

There recently has been an increase in the number of lawsuits regarding background checks, and this webinar is designed to help human resources professionals decrease the risk associated with running background or credit checks, focusing on the FCRA.

“We hope to arm human resources professionals and managers with insight that allows them to address the latest challenges facing the industry with confidence,” said Gretchen Van Vlymen, Human Resources Practice Leader at StratEx.

This webinar will also discuss Disclosure and Authorization Forms, Ban the Box, and the Adverse Action process.

To register for the webinar, go to:

eStratEx Updates Coming!

This weekend, great new updates will be released to eStratEx. Here are some highlights of a few items that will be improved.

The New Hire module will be improved in a couple of ways.

First, if you have employees “stuck” on your New Hire Dashboard for any reason, there will be a new button available to HR+ users so they can mark the New Hire as complete, and take them off of the Dashboard.

Second, some newly-hired employees have reached out to us recently because they were having trouble logging into the system. This was due to miscommunication with their manager, so a couple of enhancements will be released to help make this process as friction free as possible.

Improvements are also coming to the Status Change Dashboard. The complete history of an employee’s statuses within your company will display with clear dates and lengths of time.

Many more updates will be included in this release. If you are a StratEx client, stay tuned for the full release notes which will hit your inbox sometime later today. If you have any questions before or after the release, don’t hesitate to reach out to your awesome Service Team.

Best and Brightest 2015

StratEx Awarded Chicago’s 2015 “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®

Chicago, IL., June 11, 2015 – StratEx, a Chicago-based provider of human resource services and software, was honored as one of the “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® in Chicago” by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR).

Chicago101BBWin15_RGB“It is an honor to be recognized amongst some of the top organizations in the Chicagoland area,” said Adam Ochstein, Founder and CEO of StratEx. “We commit ourselves to providing our employees with the best work environment to build a better business and grow stronger as a team. This award truly validates the growth that we as a company have accomplished over the years.”

Sponsored by the NABR, this award identifies organizations throughout Chicago that display a commitment to excellence in human resource practices and employee enrichment.

“Living on the bleeding edge of technology is a way of life for us,” said Sami Abualsamid, President of StratEx. “In today’s world, if you are not at the forefront of technical innovation you cannot attract the best and brightest.”

Of the hundreds of nominees, 152 businesses were chosen based on key progressions in employee solutions, engagement and retention, employee development and enrichment, selection and orientation, community initiatives, and strategic company performance.

“These companies have created impressive organizational value and business results through their policies and best practices in human resource management,” said Jennifer Kludge, NABR president.

“This award is a powerful recruitment tool in the drive to attract and retain exceptional employees in the Chicagoland area.”

The 2015 Best and Brightest awards ceremony will be held on Friday, July 10, 2015 at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook, located at 1401 W. 22nd St., Oak Brook, IL 60523 from 8amCT to 1:30pmCT. 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, Denver, and Phoenix. For more information on StratEx, please visit, or call 312-216-2200.