Navigating Benefits

Benefits Administration Software: Perks and Challenges for HR Practitioners

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Posted by March 20, 2017

Benefits administration software has become the most common tool for organizations to handle the complex tasks of managing group employee benefits. Automating duties, from enrollment and renewals to handling premium payroll deductions, makes life easier for HR professionals. There are many advantages, and even some challenges, to using automated software to handle the multiple responsibilities of employer-sponsored plans.

Perks of Benefits Administration Software

On the plus side, the use of automated software with built-in data management tools takes the guesswork out of the job. Both benefits administrators and payroll managers can use the software to input employee information, make adjustments and run reports in real time.

A secure, central location for storing and accessing employee data also makes it simple to manage a company of any size and retrieve information on demand. Many applications are cloud-based, meaning multiple authorized users can log in from remote locations behind a secure sign-on process.

Perhaps most importantly, benefits administration software can help your company remain legally compliant with EEOC, ERISA and ACA regulations. Benefits administrators and HR professionals can set up customized reports that track certain aspects of employee management, such as hiring and onboarding completion, paid time off and leave management, enrollment information and changes to employee classifications. Under the ACA, end-of-year reporting is simplified with automated reports that can be generated to ensure the organization is meeting current guidelines. These factors alone can prevent a company from facing government penalties and fines.

Employee Education is Key

Benefits software can also support the HR department in educating employees about the various group health and financial perks to which they are entitled, helping them make more informed choices. The 14th Annual MetLife U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study revealed that half of all employees “strongly agree the benefits they receive at work help them worry less about unexpected health and financial issues.”

The more educated employees are about their benefits, the greater their loyalty to the company. Benefits platforms often include wellness libraries, self-service wellness tools and access to plan and provider information. This enables employees to access their information 24/7, during times when HR may not be available to answer questions.

Challenges and Growing Pains

There are a few challenges to consider when switching over to benefits administration software. It can take several payroll cycles to customize and integrate the software with current paper-based systems.

Additionally, when a product is accessible online, the company must make a concerted effort to educate employees about ways to protect their personal health information and report any suspicious login behavior.

Working Together

Payroll and benefits administrators may find it difficult to work together at first, but they will find their work is much more pleasant once they become familiar with the new automated software.

From an employee’s standpoint, enrolling for benefits on the computer may seem impersonal and intimidating at first, especially if they are used to one-on-one interaction with HR personnel. But they will also find it more intuitive and convenient to use the software once they grow comfortable with it. Hosting pre-enrollment workshops and being available to answer employee questions can still provide the personal touch that some employees need.

In the end, the challenges of using benefits administration software are minor compared to the benefits of automating these processes.

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