By Barry Fields, Vice President Employee Benefits
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the way we work was changing and the workforce was also changing. Companies of all sizes were demonstrating innovation and flexibility. They were allowing more flexible work schedules and working from home as a way to recruit and retain employees, provide greater administrative efficiency, address current environmental concerns, enhance employees’ work-life balance, support business continuity plans, and improve employee morale.
While the coronavirus crisis is far from over, this experience will likely evolve into a “new reality” in our personal and our professional lives. At this point, I can certainly take this conversation in many directions, but let’s focus on a topic where I can add some value—benefits technology. As we adapt to working from home and it becomes part of the new reality, embracing technology is critically important. Moving your enrollment process away from paper to online is an essential part of adapting so you can efficiently and effectively administer and communicate with your employees about the benefits program. By using technology-based enrollment, you can save time and money and make the process more efficient and user-friendly for your HR department and your employees.
Benefits of Online Enrollment:
Every step of the benefits management process is automated, eliminating the need for paper-based processes and improving efficiency and accuracy.
Online enrollment lowers the overall cost of providing services to your employees by eliminating the costs of distributing and collecting paper enrollment packets.
Online enrollment enables employees to have access to all HR- and benefits-related documents, self-enroll in benefit programs, review their benefits data, and report life event changes.
Employees can choose plans based on eligibility criteria and can compare costs and coverage of previous elections against new offerings.
Elections can be automatically applied to employee records and transmitted directly to your insurance carriers.
Employees receive email confirmations detailing their elections.
Employees can easily view and update their records and plans.
HR can check the status of enrollment in real time and may be able to generate detailed reports regarding the cost of employee benefits.
HR can see real-time reports on employee participation and can send reminders to employees who have yet to complete the enrollment process.
Some employees may not feel comfortable using technology and may also desire personal assistance, rather than making their selections using a computer.
Employees may not make informed benefit decisions if they are only advised via the computer and are not provided personalized recommendations. HR can take on this burden, but this role should be outsourced to a company like Health Advocate or your broker/consultant who will assist your employees with technology questions, enrollment decisions, and confidential matters.
Introduce the new enrollment software and train employees well before open enrollment begins. Perhaps implement the system mid-year so everyone can get acclimated to the program before the rush of open enrollment.
To prepare employees for the open enrollment process, use various communication methods such as launch letters, posters, the company’s intranet, virtual employee meetings, and other resources.
By partnering with a knowledgeable, hands-on broker who will work directly with your employees, online enrollment reduces the stress of Open Enrollment for HR and your employees. Employees get one-on-one personalized service with easily accessible benefits information throughout the year.
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