Benefits may seem like a small piece of the wider HCM puzzle, but there are quite a few reasons why finding the right benefits administration solution is key. Probably the most compelling is it frees up time you’d normally spend on manual administrative tasks, letting you focus on a benefits strategy that will help you retain your current talent by providing the benefits your employees expect and also use benefits as a competitive advantage when attracting new talent. If you’ve already started searching, you’ve probably found out there are a ton of options out there – which is great. However, not all benefits administration solutions are created equal, and there are a couple of things you should look out for when narrowing down your options to make your life easier in the long run.

Group piecing together a puzzle - choosing benefits concept

Compliance

Although legislation always seems to be in flux, it’s important that the solution you move forward with will be able to adapt and help you stay in compliance. Since ACA is still in play, at least for the time being, you need to be able to capture information for the appropriate measurement periods, monitor your full-time and full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, and offer the appropriate level of benefits in accordance to the legislation, plus file the appropriate forms with the IRS. Some solutions require you to file the appropriate forms yourself, others will file the forms on your behalf – what you select depends on how much you want to take on. More important, however, is that the solution you select should automate all of the calculations in real-time and provide warnings through notifications when changes need to be made. This will help save you time and give you peace of mind knowing that you will be prompted when something needs to be done instead of constantly having to monitor things.

Integration

Benefits administration is not an island; it needs to connect with systems like HR and payroll. There should be communication flowing to and from the benefits administration system when appropriate. As a simple example, you’ll need information from payroll on the number of hours worked to determine full-time and full-time equivalent (FTE) status of employees for ACA reporting and offering the appropriate benefits. On the other side of the coin, once employees select their benefits the appropriate deductions need to be made within payroll to capture the premium amounts the employees are responsible for. This two-way communication should be automated and in real-time so you’re working with the most up-to-date information, improving accuracy, and helping to avoid costly errors. 

Reporting/Analytics

Of course, reporting is a very important aspect of benefits administration as it not only allows you to gather the necessary information for compliance purposes but also provides you with insight into key areas such as: enrollment information, changes to employee classifications, health care expense per employee, and plan adoption. A solution with built-in analytics will help you surface any trends that you might not have otherwise picked-up on by simply running reports. These trends can really help you identify areas where you can make a positive impact on your business.

Mobile Enabled

Let’s face it, we all expect the apps we use to be intuitive and consumer-grade; otherwise we wouldn’t use them. This expectation no longer just applies to apps we use for entertainment but also to those we use to conduct business. And with more and more millennials in the workforce, making benefits enrollment mobile-friendly is no longer a differentiator but a requirement. So, when you’re looking at benefits administration solutions be sure the one you pick is mobile-ready. That way, you can offer your employees the flexibility of enrolling in benefits, reporting a life change event, or uploading necessary documentation at their convenience anytime, anywhere.

Employee Decision Support and Education

As mentioned above, we all expect a consumer-grade experience when using an app, but the experience shouldn’t end there – it should continue to the desktop. Think Amazon – when you’re clicking around you may notice that there are items listed as “Recommended for You” based on past selections. Good benefits administration solutions can accomplish this type of decision support by asking employees questions about their situation (i.e. how many dependents they have, what prescription medication they take on a regular basis, how many times they go to the doctor in a year, etc.) to determine which plan would be the best fit for them. This can be really helpful when working through something as complex and confusing as benefits enrollment. 

Speaking of confusing, the language used when presenting plans to employees is typically filled with acronyms like PPO, HMO, HDHP, etc. You may have no problem deciphering because it’s your job to know those terms, but throw your employees a bone! Short videos, a glossary, an interactive infographic, or other materials can really help educate employees on the meaning behind the acronyms and benefits speak. Decision support and educational material can help save you and your employees money, so it’s a no brainer to select a solution that has decision support built in along with the ability to serve up educational materials to your employees at the right time in the enrollment process. 

A benefits administration solution should make your life easier in the long run. Selecting one that helps you stay in compliance, seamlessly connects to other systems for real-time data integration, has robust reporting and analytics capabilities, is accessible from anywhere at anytime via mobile, provides employees with decision support, and serves up educational resources along the enrollment process will help alleviate administrative burdens so you can focus on the best benefits strategy to help keep current employees happy and attract new talent.

Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2019