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How many Benefits Administration systems did you work with last year versus 5 years ago?

Like you, we’ve seen a few different companies with multiple options over the years– and a lot more in recent years. They’re getting smarter and more efficient, and that’s good because today, most medium to large-size employers already have or are considering a benefit administration system.

On that note, here are 3 key areas of functionality to consider when reviewing a new or current system.

 1. Consolidation of services - with support!

The system should handle multiple carriers and offer enrollment for all employee benefits. This involves seamless connectivity for eligibility feeds to all carriers. The “holy grail” everyone is looking for is integration with a payroll system. True integration allows for one point of input for employee information, plus payroll deductions carried from the benefits system to the payroll system (That would make life a little easier, right?).

Also, while good software is crucial, support when things go wrong (because they will) is just as important. Some questions to ask include:

  • Are account management and technical support available when setting up feeds?
  • How are errors, reconciliation and auditing of data handled?
  • What compliance reports are available?

2. Paperless, self-service enrollment

The trend is headed toward paperless and self-service enrollment. What specific features are required to meet this need?

  • Employees should be able to enroll in all benefits via the system, including voluntary benefits with the necessary restrictions for participation. 
  • Benefit descriptions should be easily available in the system or via links.
  • HSA and FSA contributions should be captured.
  • Costs should be presented on a “per paycheck” basis.
  • Defined contributions will require credit bank functionality so employees can shop for benefits and use credits.

Bonus functionality would allow employees to order ID cards, update addresses and change benefits due to qualifying events. HR should be notified when a change is made and be able to track these changes in a date range. Based on the love affair Americans have with their phones, the demand for systems with mobile app enrollment will likely increase. Ask if the system offers this technology now or plans to in the near future.  

3. Content management – external and internal streams

As they say, content is king. Cutting-edge systems will allow for delivery of critical messages and serve as a central repository for relevant news and updates. This will be an important trend going forward because it facilitates efficient communication between benefit advisors and employers, as well as between employers and employees.

Internally, the employer can deliver useful information to employees and draw them to the site. Where do employees go for information now and how can the system help provide a better, more convenient information source? The portal can also include health and nutritional information, new medical breakthroughs and lifestyle information as a start. 

We all know how hard it is to sort through emails and take note of all the information they contain. The importance of a central go-to information source will only increase for you and your employees.      

There are many systems out there that provide a varying mix of these functions. It’s important to discuss these possibilities with your employee benefits broker as part of your overall benefits strategy.

Photo credit Zwawol

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