Automating Benefits Administration

General Information

Save time and provide a sophisticated employee experience

Your company’s benefits package might be one of the top reasons why employees choose to work for you. But behind the scenes, administering those benefits can be a tedious and thankless job. Automating benefits administration offers a range of advantages to your company. 

Saving Time

Picture your employees filling out paper forms for health insurance, short-term disability and employment verification documents. Your HR staff has to collect the forms (and chase down the employees who haven’t completed them). Then someone in HR spends time inputting information from those forms into some kind of system or database. This multistep process could be done much faster with a software platform that allows each employee to submit their own information directly. And HR could easily track who has submitted their forms and who has not. This allows you to boost efficiency and saves you time so you can work on higher-value needs like finding and keeping top talent, strengthening  your culture and allowing you to better serve your customers. 

Adjusting to the Way We Work Now

Last year’s shift to remote work complicated tasks for many HR administrators. How do you stay on top of procedures and changes when a workforce is dispersed across town, the country or even the world? If your employees need to fill out a piece of paper, then hand it to a HR administrator, if employees are working from home, that process can become cumbersome and not secure. Enrolling and onboarding new employees could be riddled with problems when it’s not automated. 

Changes to health insurance, dental, vision and short-term disability can cause these same issues. Consider from the employee’s perspective, for example, the stress of adding a new baby to a health insurance plan. If the employee doesn’t know how to get that updated information to the employer safely, it can be inconvenient trying to figure out how to do that when everyone is working from home.

The same issues arise for workplaces where employees have flexible hours or work in round-the-clock shifts. Automation allows you to create a “central office” for HR that’s open 24/7 and streamlines operations.  

Avoiding Errors

Let’s face it: While the human touch is critical in many HR functions, people sometimes make mistakes. The more people interact with a system, the greater the chance of inaccuracies being introduced. What’s at stake if you have errors? Fines? Penalties? Need for rework? Automating benefits administration helps your HR department work as accurately as possible. 

The most common errors from paper-based processes are employees not understanding which fields are mandatory or required. The consequence is doing rework and going through processes multiple times. With automation, employees’ information is already in the system; the  employee  selects plans and all selections automatically port over to the carrier, eliminating human error.

Reinforcing Security 

Every business, no matter what its size, should be concerned about cyber security. HR is an area of particular concern, given the abundance of personal identifiable information (PII) the department deals with.  Automated systems can help keep that data under tighter control. For example, a system can mask employees’ Social Security numbers instead of allowing them to sit in paper files in your office. Sending PII over email unencrypted is also dangerous. Paper-based administration leaves your employees’ information and your company exposed. Better alternatives are to send data via EDI or SFTP, a  secure environment and secure browsers. 

Another security measure is achieved when automated systems save data into the cloud.  Keeping data backed up off your premises means that it will remain safe even in the case of a natural disaster affecting your office or local computer outages. 

Following Compliance

If you’re losing sleep over meeting regulations or overwhelmed by their complexity, automating benefits administration can help. Automating benefits can help you free up time so you can focus on higher-value compliance activities like a formal open enrollment. 

Automation can also help  generate required reports and free you from worry over missing something.  Automating allows you to have more time to reinvest into ensuring compliance with complex and ever-changing rules and regulations. 

Consider just one facet, like ACA compliance. How much time is required to ensure your organization is aligned with these requirements? Now consider all the other regulations you must abide by from state and federal employment laws to OSHA guidelines to ADA requirements and dozens more. 

Freeing Up Time

How much time do your HR staffers spend answering the same questions about PTO, health insurance plans or the time sheet system?  The most daunting task for HR employees is managing open enrollment. Other time-consuming events are making changes to life to health insurance plans, new hire paperwork and  entering paperwork into online portals. With automation, workers can get answers to these questions easily and when it’s most convenient for them. Not facing the same questions repeatedly allows your HR staff to focus on more meaningful work or walking employees through more complicated matters.  

Appealing to Employees

Having a professional, buttoned-up  onboarding and HR experience is appealing to your employees. Paper-based workflows can get the job done, but today’s workforce is computer savvy and prefers to do things online/digitally. Think about the last time you were asked to complete a mindless task manually. The thought probably crossed your mind “Why couldn’t I just do this online?” If you’re frustrated with current benefits administration, there’s no doubt your employees are, too. In a time when hiring and retaining the best people is a top priority, the last thing you want is to irritate the talented staffers you worked so hard to find. Automating benefits administration makes tasks easier for employees. Without it, your company risks seeming behind the times to younger employees, as well.

The Bottom Line

 Automating benefits administration could save you time every month, and perhaps allow you to reinvest that time into higher-value activities in the company. All those savings can add up, allowing you to see a generous return on your investment in HR automation software. Along the way, automation provides you with data. For example, if you know how many people haven’t completed open enrollment, you can reach out and encourage them to enroll or you can easily find out how many employees are utilizing short-term disability. You can use this kind of data to help your leadership make informed decisions. 

If you have questions about automation, contact us. We’d be happy to review your options and opportunities.

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