As a benefits professional, you are responsible for supporting your organization’s strategy. This is an important responsibility that helps you plan your objectives and deliver results.
But it’s your unwavering passion to make employees’ lives better that ignites your drive and keeps you fulfilled. Delivering the best annual open enrollment experience is a crucial component to your success and also your sense of accomplishment.
As your company has grown, your needs as a benefits professional and organization have evolved. Here you are in a post-ACA world with four generations converging in the workforce. The needs of yesterday are not the same as the needs of today (or your needs of the future for that matter), and this is the same for your workforce.
It’s time to think differently about core HR; not just as the system of record, but as the hub where everything in the organization comes together to transform how you manage your workforce for business goals and success. The new HR mandate is moving beyond automating processes, reducing costs, and ensuring compliance to building purposeful relationships across the business to create a modern and engaging workplace.
The modern workforce is a global workforce. Managing a global workforce presents challenges, but it also presents an opportunity to attract, engage, and retain talent across borders using the best in technology.
Has your software kept up? Let’s take a look at some common symptoms that could mean you’re facing a big problem — you’ve outgrown your current benefits technology.
Symptom 1: You get asked the same simple benefit questions repeatedly.
The Real Problem
If you are experiencing this, it could be a sign that your system has not kept up with the modern benefits consumer and their expectations of easy-to-use technology paired with benefits education so they can make better decisions. Employees want easy ways to access the benefits information they need at the time they need it. Keeping your employees informed and engaged beyond open enrollment is important now more than ever. Consider that only 14 percent of people with health insurance are able to explain the concepts of deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, and out-of-pocket maximums. Employees need help understanding their plan options to determine which one is the right fit for them and need guidance throughout the rest of the year when it’s actually time to use their plan.
Incorporating technology into your benefits strategy is supposed to help simplify benefits enrollment and empower your employees; however, if employees don’t know where to go to get that information — or if they do know, but it’s too difficult to find the information quickly– then they continue to feel confused and overwhelmed. Additionally, the value of your time is diminished, as you now have to spend time answering the same common questions versus focusing on your benefits strategy and vision for your workforce.
If this is a symptom you can relate to, here are some questions to consider in determining if you’ve outgrown your benefits technology:
- Is there a starting point for employees, do they know how to get to all of their benefit information from one place?
- Is the technology armed with a knowledge-base of frequently asked questions that is tailored to your workforce?
- Do you have the options to customize benefit information as you observe patterns or trends of areas that cause confusion for employees?
- Is there search functionality? Can employees type in a keyword and see questions and answers defined by their benefit team at their fingertips?
- Are there multimedia tools like video, chat or a virtual assistant that make getting benefits information in the hands of your employees easier?
Symptom 2: Your workforce is more diverse than ever before, and regulatory issues are making benefit strategies more complicated.
Facing penalties and the evolving needs of your workforce, your executive team is depending on you to figure out ways to remain compliant while reducing costs and delivering a great experience to your employees.
The Real Problem
Your benefits strategy should drive your technology, not the other way around. So, if you aren’t able to implement creative benefit strategies to address the evolving needs of your workforce, it’s a sign that your platform is inflexible and doesn’t provide you the necessary tools to address what’s required in the modern benefits landscape. For example, addressing issues such as providing more options to a variable hour workforce, reducing healthcare costs with more creative premium funding strategies, and introducing new voluntary benefits like digital health and financial wellness into your benefits mix.
Being on the leading edge of technology that can support creative benefit strategies should be the focus of your software provider. Using cloud technology, they should provide you insight into their product roadmap and be constantly innovating. Additionally, the best technology providers include data connections to your carriers. If that’s not the case, then you are saddled with the burden of figuring out how to make what you have today fit so you can address these new and varied challenges. You might even have to figure out yourself how to create new data connections. And if you’re like most organizations out there, asking your IT team to handle another data connection could be challenging and time-consuming.
Do you experience this symptom? Here are questions to pose in determining if your benefits technology hasn’t kept pace:
- Are you able to support part-time populations with voluntary benefits?
- Are you able to expand your benefits mix with minimal dependencies on your IT team?
- Do you have access to dashboards that provide insight into file delivery schedules and/or file acceptance by your carriers?
- When you receive data from your technology provider are you able to rate the timeliness and quality of the file as it interacts with your internal systems?
- Does your technology support the management of complex Evidence of Insurability (EOI) rules systematically?
Symptom 3: You communicate with your employees through broad HR announcements primarily via email or paper communication.
The Real Problem
You aren’t able to reach your entire workforce or execute on a communications strategy because your technology doesn’t have modern capabilities. Customer-centric technology providers should address customer pain points. One of the main pain points today is how to get the right information out to the right employee at the right time and with the right method. And not only during open enrollment, but year-round.
Targeted messaging to subsets of your workforce is the modern way to engage employees. HR professionals have to be more like marketers when it comes to engaging employees in their benefits, communicating benefits in a relevant and timely way. So what is your software vendor doing to help you achieve that? Without the tools, automation features or resources necessary within the technology, your team’s capacity to execute a strong communications plan just became that much harder. Are you looking for ways to engage your workforce, but lack the resources? These questions may help you identify whether your benefits technology has the capabilities you need:
- Are you able to push information out to employees and call them to action all through your benefits technology?
- Can you send text messages and personalized email communication from a single place?
- Do employees have access to their benefit information from a mobile device?
- Is the benefits information easily accessible and communicated in a way that the entire family understands?
In today’s world, life is complex. Benefits should be made easy all year long — for both you and your employees — with an enterprise benefits management solution that lets you address today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges. If that’s not what you are getting now, it may be time to re-evaluate your solution and consider a better way.
Lucky for you, SAP has a solution you can begin using today. The SAP U.S. Benefits Administration application by Benefitfocus gives you all this and more. Designed to run with the SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central solution, it provides a unified user experience that brings together core HR processes and employee-benefits enrollment and management. U.S.-based employees can shop for benefits, enroll online, and access and manage information using any Web-enabled device including mobile devices – and HR can communicate with employees and centrally manage the entire process. Learn more about SAP U.S. Benefits Administration by Benefitfocus here.