Guest Contributor

5 Reasons to Embrace Benefits Automation

By | EverythingBenefits |

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has rearranged our professional lives and spurred us all to re-engineer processes that previously relied on having people in the office. Just about every company has been faced with operational disruptions caused by the pandemic. As a result, contingency planning and automation have become absolutely essential for supporting employees and their work activities.According to McKinsey,the pandemic has sped up digital and technology adoption by several years.

Benefits automation offers a range of benefits to employers and employees, helping to improve compliance with changing regulations and offering employees access to benefits resources from any location. However, if you’re wondering just how much benefits automation can help your company, check out these top five reasons why companies are embracing it.

The Evolving Role of HR

The role of the modern-day HR leader includes a range of activities, from running payroll and onboarding new hires, to managing open enrollment, employee engagement, and compliance.Even before the pandemic, HR played a critical role in improving the employee experience through a mix of strategic and tactical activities. Now, to keep up with the evolving role of HR and the need to tackle COVID-related challenges, benefits automation can help HR leaders manage benefits administration more efficiently, stay on top of changing regulations, and keep remote employees safe and engaged. Automation can not only support completely virtual open enrollment, but it can also help to improve COBRA processing, ACA reporting, and monthly benefits invoice reconciliation, just to name a few.

Opportunities to Save Time

The workweek comprises a finite number of hours, which can easily be consumed by benefits reconciliation tasks alone, especially if you’re using spreadsheets and other manual tools and processes. In fact, a G&A Partners study found that HR spends 73 percent of its time on administrative activities, which doesn’t leave much time to support employees or provide coaching to managers.

Benefits automation can help HR and benefits administrators break out of an inefficient cycle and get more accomplished in less time. Benefits automation helps to eliminate paper and spreadsheets, so you can establish clear, reliable benefits processes. For example, instead of taking hours to reconcile monthly carrier invoices with your payroll and benefits election data, benefits automation allows you to complete the process in just a few clicks in an automated platform.

Better Compliance

If you’re using a combination of third-party websites, spreadsheets, and paper forms to manage benefits, the opportunity for human error can be great. While the occasional error can occur with any process, manual benefits administration can lead to errors that create compliance headaches for your organization. For example, a company found to be non-compliant with COBRA regulationscould face upwards of a $500,000 fine or 10 percent of the employer health plan cost.

There are dozens of compliance regulations on the state and federal level, and even a small, unintentional compliance violation can result in costly penalties. However, by automating core benefits processes, you can rely on built-in rules within your software platform to generate all the required documents and reports to help you stay in compliance with COBRA, ACA, and other regulations.

An Alternative to Outsourcing

While outsourcing benefits administration processes can help companies with limited HR and benefits resources, it brings its own set of challenges, including a possible lack of transparency, limited vendor availability, delays in resolving errors, and potentially outdated vendor technology. In addition, while an outsourced solution can take on some of the benefits workload, you still have to dedicate time to making sure your third-party provider stays in compliance with local and federal regulations.

Many of our clients have transitioned to automated benefits solutions following an experience with outsourcing. Here are some of the problems they encountered before moving to an automated solution:

  • When managing carrier communications, Alliance, a payroll company, shared that “there was no monitoring or feedback system in place to see if incorrect data was being pulled. You just had to send it and hope it was correct. As a result, there were a lot of data hiccups, particularly during open enrollment, which can lead to compliance issues.”
  • HWI, another payroll company, said, “it took over a year to implement the solution with the third-party provider.” Once implemented, they “felt like a number and that no-one cared.” HWI also noted that, when working with an outsourced provider, theirdata frequently contained errors, and it was difficult to find a contact to address those issues.

Unlike an outsourced solution, which may still run on manual or paper processes, modern technology can automate those processes for better efficiency and data management.

Greater Benefits Transparency

When it comes to managing benefits, keeping your systems in sync is crucial. Payroll deductions and benefits elections must match the coverage levels and premiums in your carrier billing. By automating your benefits administration, you can enable your payroll and HCM systems to communicate with benefits carriers and retirement providers, so you have a single source of truth for all of your benefits data. With these systems operating in sync, you can expect error-free payroll deductions and more transparent reporting to support better decision-making and compliance.

Busy HR and benefits professionals already have a full workload, and with challenges posed by remote work and the COVID-pandemic, that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Benefits automation replaces paper, spreadsheets, and manual activities, allowing you to improve compliance, manage your benefits data more efficiently, and dedicate more time to supporting your workforce.

Author Bio:

EverythingBenefits is a leading provider of next-generation, end-to-end benefit technology solutions and services that help businesses of all sizes and their employees experience benefits in more meaningful ways. By leveraging an open business model, EverythingBenefits partners with enterprise resource planning systems, human capital management (HCM) companies, benefits carriers, in addition to benefit brokers, independent agents and other providers. The company’s philosophy is that technology should make life simpler, more rewarding, and more enjoyable

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