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Five questions HR should ask about benefits software

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In a competitive job market, a comprehensive benefits package is a key tool for recruitment and retention. But according to the International Federation of Employee Benefit Plans, half of the employees don’t understand the benefits their employer offers.

As a result, many employers aren’t maximizing the value of their investment in benefits. In other words, if employees don’t know which benefits they have access to, or how to use them, the employer likely isn’t seeing the recruitment and retention advantages of offering them.

Benefits administration software can help employees make better, more informed decisions when it comes to the coverage options their employer provides. Most platforms make it easy for employers to provide more robust benefits communication and decision support tools, including PDFs, videos, and other functionality.

As a result, employees more effectively use their benefits, improving retention and maximizing the employer’s investment in those offerings.

But with many different kinds of benefits and HR software systems marketed to employers, how should the HR department think about finding and implementing the benefits system that is right for their organization? 

Most all-in-one HR systems will report a benefits administration feature, but employers and HR leaders should carefully consider the functionality of the platform before purchasing.

Here are five questions to ask when it comes to finding a system to better manage benefits eligibility and enrollment.

1. Do employees make elections in the system?

For maximized efficiency, look for a system that allows employees to actually review and choose their benefits directly within the platform. The alternative would be a system that houses information manually uploaded by HR.

There are two key reasons to look for a genuine enrollment system. First, an enrollment system minimizes the possibility of human error, as opposed to a manual-entry system. The second reason is that if you don’t have it, then you’re basically just having your employees enroll with paper – which is what you’re trying to get away from in the first place.

2. Is the benefits feature broker-supported?

If not, the system is probably not as robust as what most organizations will require.

The most advanced benefits systems are provided to employers through a benefits broker, which creates another level of support. Systems not supported by a broker likely have big gaps in functionality – gaps that keep brokers away.

Even small employers need to think about this. Why? Because the size of the employer has little to do with the complexity of the benefits package. Brokers provide key expertise here, and a system that works in tandem with the broker produces the best results.

3. Does it connect with the onboarding system?

After onboarding, most new hires want to make their benefits elections. It can be handy to have these two functions connected to ensure compliance, eligibility, and ease of use for the new employee.

4. Does it administer qualifying events?

Look for a system that can handle enrollment both during open enrollment and in the case of qualifying events, such as marriage, a new baby, loss of coverage or other scenarios. Many benefits systems allow employees to self-service. In other words, they can update their information in regards to qualifying events or benefits changes. If the system can only handle benefits elections during open enrollment, you will still have to maintain paper process for other events.

5. Does it administer a full array of benefits?

Consider whether the system can handle a full array of benefits, including life, critical illness, dental coverage and more, as opposed to just the major medical plan. A benefits system reduces the administrative burden of offering several lines of coverage, so choosing a platform that can administer many types of coverage will allow employers to take advantage of those efficiency gains.

Because benefits touch so many parts of the HR ecosystem, in general, a comprehensive system that integrates benefits with other HR functionality will provide more value than a less robust system. Considering these five questions will help HR leaders find the right solution for their organization.

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