Serenity Forge

Serenity Forge manages hybrid growth through Gusto’s modern HR tools

“The way we engage with Gusto’s tools has been a measurement of our company’s success over the years, we’ve gone from payroll, to health benefits, adding PTO policies, reimbursements, and now, onboarding HR tools.” – Serenity Forge, Customer since 2018

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Serenity Forge photo


Gusto has enabled Serenity Forge to:

Add Employee ST2

Provide 5x faster onboarding experience

Watch Kale

Save 30+ hours per month to streamline state-tax compliance standards

Calendar Folding Kale

Save CEO 12+ hours on manual tasks with PTO tracking tools

About Serenity Forge

Where: Boulder, CO
Industry: Video Games
Employees: 40+
Joined Gusto: January 2018

Serenity Forge is a video game development and publishing company based out of Boulder, Colorado. The company works with both US-based and international developers, publishers, vendors, and clients to bring impactful and compelling games to the world by creating meaningful experiences that expand people’s horizons.

Since switching to Gusto in 2018, Serenity Forge has gone from processing payroll by hand to driving efficiency with automated Gusto solutions and HR tools. Serenity Forge has been able to onboard employees and contractors in nearly 15 states, provide affordable health benefits, and optimize work using time-saving features. Taken together, the company depends on Gusto to help it scale, build company culture, and attract talent.

How Gusto’s HR tools modernizes Serenity Forge through automation

Custom tools streamlined onboarding process for 5x faster experience

Before the pandemic, Serenity Forge used Gusto for its payroll services with the majority of its employees working out of its Boulder, CO office. In 2020, like many businesses, Serenity Forge pivoted and expanded its hiring strategy across the country to meet business demand. This accelerated their need to adopt a modern onboarding system to support their emerging hybrid work culture. Serenity Forge has grown to rely on Gusto’s onboarding tools including onboarding check-lists, new hire documents, employee handbook, and app integrations with Slack and Google Workspaces to provide a 5x faster onboarding experience per employee.

“Before using Gusto’s onboarding tools, our onboarding process was disorganized. We had documents floating around, we were using email to keep track of everything, and scheduling follow-up meetings added significant time to our onboarding process,” recalls Zhenghua “Z” Yang, CEO and Founder of Serenity Forge. “Gusto’s onboarding tools gave us tremendous value for our business. The tools absorbed our entire onboarding documentation process and along with the daily reminders, we’re more than prepared to support our new employees. We trust Gusto’s onboarding tools and we never miss a step before a new hire’s first day with our new automated, streamlined process.”

Gusto’s tools allowed us to formalize our processes and ensure every hire has the onboarding experience they deserve whether from our office in Boulder, CO or their home as a remote employee.
Kevin Zhang signature
Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder
Serenity Forge

“As a small company, we don’t have a dedicated HR department to handle every need when onboarding employees,” adds Kevin Zhang, Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder of Serenity Forge.  “Gusto’s tools allowed us to formalize our processes and ensure every hire has the onboarding experience they deserve whether from our office in Boulder, CO or their home as a remote employee. Gusto has been a tremendous time-saver for both me, the go-to HR person, and our employees.”

Essential state tax registration guidance saves 30+ hours per month

Once Serenity Forge pivoted to a hybrid work environment, it expanded its remote headcount by 15% in order to optimize talent across the country. Serenity Forge was forced to quickly navigate state tax registrations for each new employee over this period. This process could have become a full-time job. Instead, Serenity Forge used Gusto to reduce the time needed to process compliance paperwork by over 30 hours each month. 

“When we expanded our talent strategy and hired employees in multiple states, figuring out state taxes was a nightmare and really complicated. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time out of my day navigating the complexities of each state to ensure my employees were ready for their first day of work. It felt like a full-time job and I didn’t know what I was doing. On top of that, I had a company to run,” shares Yang. “Gusto helped set up each new employee in each individual state and streamlined the whole process for us. I no longer had to wait on phone calls for several hours everyday to get my questions answered. With Gusto’s tools, I was able to get that time back to focus on being a CEO.”

“When COVID happened, we became a hybrid company overnight. We were definitely aware that every state had specific tax requirements, but underestimated the amount of time it would take for each employee. Gusto helped us through an overwhelming process that felt impossible,” adds Zhang.

Automated and customizable time-saving tools all-in-one place

As Serenity Forge grew, it realized it needed Gusto’s customizable time-saving tools to support its remote employees and contractors that automatically synced with its payroll. Before using Gusto’s paid-time-off (PTO) policy and reporting tool, Serenity Forge had to manually input each employee’s information. Now, Serenity Forge can effortlessly run payroll knowing its PTO hours have been approved and accounted for accurately.

“Before Gusto, I was manually inputting each of my employees PTO hours into Excel sheets. It took me about an hour per month to add this information–which equates to about 12 hours over a year. As someone who is running a company, it was very important for me to be able to get that time back,” shares Yang. “Incorporating Gusto’s suggested PTO policy and reporting was a low-risk tool for us to use that made us more organized and trustworthy to our employees because we had a convenient process that synced to their payroll. Gusto has become a one-stop shop for all our employee’s requests. They love that they can check pay stubs, get their tax forms, or request their PTO all-in-one place.”

Affordable benefits support employee retention and attract top talent

It was a priority for Serenity Forge to provide employees with affordable benefits, including health, vision, and dental coverage. Gusto enabled Serenity Forge to provide employees with simplified healthcare options automatically that fit the needs of its team, offered peace of mind for employees and their families, and safeguarded their futures.

“In our early years, we had a benefit policy that would provide each employee with $500 a month so they could buy their own health coverage. That benefit became really complicated and we learned that our employees didn’t want to navigate healthcare coverage on their own. They needed guidance,” shares Yang. “A huge burden was lifted off of myself and my employees providing benefits through Gusto. By guaranteeing our employees were covered, Gusto delivered an affordable option that made sense for us, our employees, and our business.”

In 2018, Serenity Forge chose Gusto to be its trusted payroll provider, one that made running payroll a breeze. Over the years, Gusto has simplified Serenity Forge’s business needs as a growing startup by streamlining both payroll and benefits–all-in-one place.

“We already used Gusto for payroll, so we decided to add benefits like health, vision, and dental. It’s been fantastic to have everything in one place,” shares Yang. “The process itself was simple to implement. We didn’t have to bring in another company or broker, it’s all done through Gusto’s platform. As a startup, it was a big deal for us to offer health benefits to our employees and it allows us to remain competitive in the job market while meeting the needs of our employees and their families. Overall, Gusto was a great financial choice for us and I love that it’s been accessible and affordable for our business needs since day one.”

Gusto as an essential HR partner

Yang can’t imagine Serenity Forge’s growth existing without the support and guidance of Gusto’s payroll and HR tools. And, he’s thrilled to continue to grow with Gusto for years to come. 

“The way we engage with Gusto’s tools has been a measurement of our company’s success over the years, we’ve gone from payroll, to health benefits, adding PTO policies, reimbursements, and now, onboarding HR tools,” says Yang. “As a startup founder, I have to wear many hats. Gusto’s been critical to our business operations over the years and all my headaches with managing payroll, benefits, and state-tax compliance, dissolved because of Gusto’s tools. Serenity Forge wouldn’t exist in the way that we do today without it. I’m both grateful and thrilled for us to continue to grow with Gusto.”

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