Over the past 50 years, the workplace has undergone profound transformations driven by technological advancements, shifting societal norms, and evolving employer strategies. As we celebrate the remarkable journey of Innovative Employee Solutions over the last half-century, we reflect on how these changes have shaped the employment landscape and look ahead to the future. From the early days of traditional employment models to the rise of innovative workplace strategies, IES has been at the forefront, guiding businesses through the complexities of contingent workforce management.   

The Journey of IES in Workforce Management Consulting

IES has evolved significantly from our early days as a local staffing company into a leader in Employer of Record and compliance services. Originally founded as TOPS Staffing Services in San Diego, IES initially focused on San Diego-based temporary placement services while also offering payroll services nationwide. The pivotal moment came in 1998 when our founder, Karla Hertzog, sold the staffing division and retained the payrolling services for a long-time client. This shift marked the beginning of a new era for IES as we began to focus solely on EOR services 

Investing in our sales and operations teams, IES set out to compete more aggressively in the EOR space. Today, we’ve proudly partnered with over 25,000 companies to offer cost-savings and risk mitigation with their pre-identified contract talent. We also still maintain that first client from San Diego from 1974, a testament to our enduring commitment, reliability, and customer service.  

IES’s Key Milestones and Turning Points

  • 1974: Karla Hertzog, under the guidance of her father Ted Cobb in Denver, opened the San Diego branch of TOPS Staffing Services based in Denver, Co., marking IES’s inception.
  • 1989: After selling the Denver operations, Karla purchased TOPS from her father in San Diego and became its sole owner, steering the company toward new horizons.
  • 1998: After selling the temporary staffing services as the largest staffing firm in San Diego, the company rebranded to Innovative Employee Solutions, focusing exclusively on Employer of Record (EOR) services.
  • 2008: IES partnered with a long-time client to implement its first Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Vendor Management System (VMS).
  • 2010: We expanded our services to include back-office support for recruitment agencies and independent contractor compliance services.
  • 2015: Extended operations into Canada with international payroll services.
  • 2018: Fulcrum was created through IES innovation. A new standalone company is formed, connecting enterprises with freelance marketplace platforms and adding global EOR services in 150+ countries.
  • 2020: Transitioned to a remote-first company, adapting to modern work trends.
  • 2021: Expanded into the UK.
  • 2022: Further expansion into Ireland. IES makes Inc 5000 List of Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America
  • 2023: Ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Private Company by the San Diego Business Journal
  • 2024: Entered the German market, launched Direct Sourcing Simplified, and celebrated 50 years in business.

Since 2010, IES has consistently been a finalist for San Diego’s Best Places to Work, reflecting our commitment to employee satisfaction and a positive work culture. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we look back on our legacy of workforce innovation. From engaging over 8,000 workers annually to maintaining a 99.8% client audit compliance rating, IES has demonstrated excellence for our clients, our workforce, our community, and the industry as a whole. Our leadership is 70% women, and we continue to champion diversity within our ranks.  

A Legacy of Workforce Innovation

Our journey is marked by our ability to anticipate and adapt to changes in the employment landscape. As a woman-owned staffing company in a predominantly male industry, we had to prove ourselves from the outset. The company’s initial small successes grew into steady growth, building a reputation for strong compliance and exceptional service.  

Despite the changes throughout the years, IES’s core values — People First, Future Forward, Integrity, and Teamwork — have remained constant, guiding our evolution and success. As a privately held, woman-owned, and women-operated company, IES has continually embraced innovation, enabling clients to navigate the complexities of managing a contingent workforce.  

IES’s journey is far from over. We remain dedicated to anticipating and enabling the innovations that clients and their teams demand. As we look forward to the next 50 years, we are poised to continue defining the future of work, helping businesses expand their workforce and navigate the evolving employee landscape 

Broader Shifts in the Employment Landscape Over 50 Years

Drastic Changes in Compliance

Over the past five decades, the world of employment has seen significant shifts, particularly in compliance requirements across different states. Compliance was relatively straightforward until about 10 years ago, with California being the notable exception due to its complex regulations. However, the landscape has since changed dramatically. Many states have adopted more comprehensive worker protection laws, including sick pay requirements and varying overtime laws. Minimum wage rates have become increasingly variable across the country, with exempt minimums also rising.  

Federal laws have also played a significant role in reshaping compliance. The Affordable Care Act, for instance, mandated that all full-time workers receive benefits, significantly impacting how companies manage their workforce. These changes have made compliance a more intricate and essential aspect of employment, requiring businesses to stay constantly updated with new regulations.  

Adaptation to Technological Advancements  

The role of technology in employment has transformed remarkably over the years. Technology has revolutionized how businesses manage their workforce, from the early days of manual record-keeping and paper-based processes to the current era of digital solutions and automation.  

IES has continuously adapted to meet the evolving needs of the workforce and the rapid pace of technological advancements. As technology has enhanced how businesses operate, we have invested heavily in internal and external technologies to streamline employee onboarding services and employment processes. By leveraging technology, IES has made these processes as efficient and seamless as possible for clients and workers.  

Moreover, we have utilized technology to strengthen our compliance processes, ensuring that the company remains current with the latest legislative changes while maintaining a consultative approach with our clients. By integrating advanced technology into our operations, IES has managed to stay ahead of compliance requirements and provide superior service to its clients.  

The Influence of Being a Woman-Owned Business

Being a certified WBENC woman-owned business has significantly shaped IES’s trajectory and impact in the industry. When Karla Hertzog managed the company, she was often one of the few women in a male-dominated industry. Over the years, the presence and influence of women in the industry have grown, leading to an increase in women-owned businesses.  

This aspect of IES’s identity has been at the forefront of our offerings. The ability to provide diversity credits to clients has not only helped those clients win contracts but has also driven IES’s growth. As a woman-owned business, IES has championed diversity and inclusion within the industry, reflecting a broader trend toward greater gender equality in the workplace.  

The employment landscape has evolved significantly over the past 50 years. IES has adapted and thrived by staying ahead of compliance changes, embracing technological advancements, and leveraging its unique position as a woman-owned business. These adaptations have enabled IES to continue providing exceptional service to its clients while contributing to the ongoing evolution of the workforce. 

Innovations That Have Reshaped Employer Strategies

IES has been at the forefront of reshaping employer strategies through our innovative contingent workforce solutions. By pioneering advanced EOR services, IES has enabled companies to bolster their contingent workforce strategies and navigate the complexities of workforce management and compliance more effectively. These innovations have had a profound impact on employer strategies, allowing businesses to focus on core activities while ensuring compliance with local and international regulations.  

IES’s approach to leveraging technology for seamless onboarding and employment processes has streamlined operations for many companies. Our investment in cutting-edge technologies has made it easier for employers to manage contingent workers, thereby reducing administrative burdens and enhancing operational efficiency. Here are just some of the ways we’ve helped our clients over the years:  

  • Regulation Adherence and Workforce Management: A prominent public university in California turned to IES for a compliant W-2 payrolling solution in the face of California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). With IES, the university was shielded from potential legal repercussions and easily upheld compliance with evolving labor laws. Ultimately, IES helped save the university over 40 hours of administrative work each week. Our solution also facilitated seamless management of payroll, time tracking, and benefits administration, enhancing operational efficiency.  
  • Streamlining Flexibility and Scalability in Compliance: A Texas-based technology services and staffing firm needed a compliant solution to manage its large contingent workforce. IES quickly implemented a flexible and scalable EOR solution, ensuring the firm’s compliance with ACA regulations without overhauling its benefits offerings or increasing administrative burdens. This strategic approach eliminated the risks of non-compliance and streamlined reporting and benefits administration.  
  • Science and Technology Solutions Provider: A UK-based gaming company was facing challenges associated with hiring around 45 specialists across more than a dozen countries. IES stepped in to provide a comprehensive EOR solution, enabling the client to hire talent globally without having to establish local entities. IES’s solution streamlined the hiring process, ensuring compliance with local laws, handling onboarding, managing employment contracts, and administering benefits and payroll. The partnership with IES also led to significant cost savings, with an average of 27% saved by optimizing employment through IES’s Global Partner Network.  

The innovations introduced by IES have significantly reshaped employer strategies, offering scalable, compliant, and efficient workforce solutions. Through advanced EOR services and strategic use of technology, IES has helped numerous organizations streamline their operations, achieve compliance, and focus on their core missions. As the employment landscape continues to evolve, IES’s commitment to innovation ensures that businesses can adapt and thrive in a dynamic global market 

How to Prepare for the Future of Work

As we look ahead, several key trends are poised to shape the future of work in the next decade. Direct sourcing, the rise of freelance platforms, and the ongoing revolution of AI are at the forefront of this transformation. Companies will need to adapt to these changes to stay competitive and efficient. IES is already preparing to meet these challenges and opportunities head-on, guided by its core values and commitment to technological advancement.  

  • Direct Sourcing: Direct sourcing will remain a key strategy for hiring employees and independent contractors and will likely grow. It allows companies to maintain a ready talent pool, making hiring faster and more efficient. This approach ensures a steady stream of vetted professionals available to meet business needs.  
  • Freelance Platforms: Freelance platforms are set to grow significantly. With an expected market size of $6.5 billion in 2024, this figure is projected to surpass $14 billion by 2029. This growth highlights the increasing reliance on freelancers and gig economy workers.  
  • Artificial Intelligence: AI will continue to transform employment practices. From automating routine tasks to enhancing recruitment processes, AI’s role in the workplace will expand, driving efficiency and innovation.  

Preparation for Future Challenges and Opportunities

IES is proactively preparing to meet future workplace challenges and opportunities. By continually enhancing its technology, IES ensures a seamless and compliant onboarding experience for workers worldwide. This commitment to technological advancement is crucial for managing the complexities of global employment.  

We are also expanding our ecosystem of global EOR and Agent of Record (AOR) services. By integrating these services with direct sourcing strategies and freelance marketplaces, we provide clients with a versatile, curated talent pool. This holistic approach enables clients to source candidates efficiently through their own efforts or with platform assistance.  

Core Values Guiding Future Strategies  

IES’s core values are the cornerstone of our strategic initiatives as we look forward to the next 50 years. The “People First” philosophy, emphasizing exceptional customer service and employee care, remains central to IES’s approach. This value drives our commitment to fostering strong relationships with clients and employees.  

Our “Future Forward” value is crucial for navigating the rapidly evolving industry landscape. This industry has revolutionized very quickly in the last 10 years and will revolutionize even faster in the next 10 years. Anticipating and embracing change, IES continues to innovate and adapt, ensuring we remain at the forefront of workforce solutions.  

Pioneering the Next 50 Years of Workforce Solutions

Reflecting on IES’s 50-year journey, several key lessons and insights emerge. Starting as a family business in San Diego and transforming into a global company is a testament to the dedication and talent of our team. This transformation wouldn’t be possible without a team to count on — one that is just as excited as you are for the next client or the next way of doing things. 

Additionally, the importance of continuous learning from industry partners, teammates, and professional organizations cannot be overstated in the evolving employee landscape. Any opportunity to learn should be embraced; people are adopting so many creative ways of managing work, and it is important to learn from peers so we can continue to get more people to work faster and more efficiently.   

IES plans to continue its legacy of innovation and commitment to service by staying true to our core values: People First, Teamwork, Integrity, and Future Forward. By fostering an environment that encourages innovation and teamwork, IES aims to remain a top competitor in the industry. Empowering employees to provide exceptional service, as evidenced by an NPS score of 57 compared to the industry standard of 36, will drive our future growth. This dedication ensures that our team continues to lead in providing innovative workforce solutions for the next 50 years.  

Learn more about IES’s 50th anniversary and how we’ve helped enable the world of work.

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IES celebrates 50 years of innovative workforce solutions!