Thriveworks saves thousands of dollars per year by switching to PeopleKeep.

Industry Health care
Location Austin, TX

Unable to offer traditional group benefits, Thriveworks was paying employees an informal taxable stipend for benefits, which required the company and employees to pay thousands of dollars in unnecessary taxes. Now, with PeopleKeep’s personalized benefits automation software, they’re able to offer tax-free monthly benefit allowances to all employees as a formal benefits program.


Thriveworks saves thousands of dollars per year by switching to PeopleKeep.
“Traditional group benefits weren’t even remotely affordable. PeopleKeep is perfect for our company and perfect for our bottom line.”

Kelly Pfeiffer

Thriveworks in Austin, TX


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projected annual tax savings


employee participation

“PeopleKeep was a revelation … It was like, finally, there’s a way to do this!”

The company

Thriveworks is the country’s fastest-growing brand of counseling centers and offers well-qualified mental health professionals a therapy practice with ongoing training, operations, and administration support. The Austin and Georgetown, Texas franchises—registered as Three Oaks Counseling Group—operate under the Thriveworks name.

The challenge

Kelly Pfeiffer knew firsthand the power of benefits to make employees feel motivated and valued. Before she became the owner of two Thriveworks franchises in the Austin, Texas, area, she worked as an IT professional and received benefits that gave her peace of mind. That experience made offering benefits an important goal for her business.

But traditional group benefits “weren’t even remotely affordable for a company our size,” she said. Insurance companies were looking for larger groups to enroll, and all of her options were too expensive.

Frustrated, Pfeiffer compromised by giving employees an informal taxable stipend to cover the cost of benefits. Her employees appreciated the extra money, but it was far from a perfect solution. Thriveworks had to pay 7.65 percent in payroll taxes on top of the stipends, and employees faced an average of nearly 30 percent in income and payroll taxes on every dollar.

“The stipend made everyone feel better, but it’s all taxed, so nobody wins,” Pfeiffer said. “It was so frustrating—I felt my hands were tied.”

The solution

Thriveworks continued with its taxable stipends until an email from another franchise owner changed everything. The owner told Pfeiffer it was possible to reimburse employees for their personal health insurance while receiving all the tax advantages of traditional group benefits.

Pfeiffer was excited. She went online and quickly found PeopleKeep. After learning that PeopleKeep let her set her own budget and give employees tax-free money—while also automating the administrative busywork and compliance—Pfeiffer knew she’d found a solution that worked for Thriveworks.

“PeopleKeep was a revelation,” Pfeiffer said. “I got a demo of the software and was really impressed with how simple it was. Then I explained it to my employees and they were gung-ho. It was like, finally, there’s a way to do this!”

The results

Today, Thriveworks employees are taking advantage of personalized benefits with PeopleKeep. This solution allows the company and its employees to save an average of 35 percent in taxes compared with the previously offered taxable stipends.

Thriveworks has also had success using PeopleKeep to hire and keep its people. Pfeiffer reported that since adopting PeopleKeep, she’s had better success hiring new employees, while existing employees are motivated to gain more clients in order to reach full-time status and qualify for benefits.

“Everybody loves PeopleKeep,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s perfect for our company and perfect for our bottom line.”