Future-Ready your HR Strategy with Benefit Technology
If you work in Human Resources, you know how important time and efficiency is to your role. You also probably know how easily this precious time can slip away. From employee questions to process inefficiencies, the loss of productive working hours can pile up fast, and that means stress does too. Especially now with the layered complexities of handling an effective COVID pandemic plan all while trying to achieve a solid ‘Open Enrollment’ season, time is of the essence now more than ever.
But how do you combat these complexities during enrollment season? How do you take back your time and better serve your company as the HR leader. Let’s breakdown a strategy for continued enrollment success in 4 acts.
ACT 1: Focus on implementation and testing out best practices to build a strong foundation
Implementing new software is hard; let’s just acknowledge that right away. There is a large implementation the first year when you sign up, and then micro implementations afterward every year at enrollment time. A lot of this strife can come from the effort of trying to get clean data, which in most benefit administration systems is difficult to mine, again costing you precious time. The knee jerk solution could be to hire more people to assist with implementation or pushing your current employees to work harder and faster. Let’s face it though, that’s not sustainable, and is truly just putting a band-aid on the problem and not a solution.
The area of focus here is simple: avoid the slog. When looking to implement a software, search for one that has data in mind and is consistently moving forward to increase data stream efficiencies. You shouldn’t be mining a system for the information you need; it should be served to you, and this process should be easy. If the systems you’re using aren’t currently doing that; keep looking. Again, your time is crucial and easily accessible data is likely the foundation to your success, so make sure your software has this information readily available to you.
ACT 2: Move to real-time data integration with insurance carriers
The current state of information handling within the insurance industry is archaic at best, but leaders in the field are recognizing this and urging benefit technology companies to drastically push the needle forward. For too many years, benefit administration implementations and renewals have been plagued with manual data entry requirements, data inaccuracies, and timing issues due to primitive batch-file integrations that somehow became the norm.
But change is coming, change is currently happening, and success means keeping up with these changes. Let’s look at what is required to modernize our industry so you know what to look for in order to keep up when selecting the right benefits technology.
- System integration needs to happen in real time – The current industry practice of ‘batch-information processes’ means information will always be out of date, which then means reconciliations turning into more wasted time for you. We as an industry can do better than this.
- There needs to be a trusted system of record – For each type of data being exchanged, there has to be a source of truth. The benefit administration system should be a trusted point of data accuracy that all stakeholders have agreed upon, thus eliminating wasted time with back and forth communications.
- A system should seamlessly implement plan rules – Information that effects a consumer requires accuracy and should not cost the HR administrator time. The chosen system needs to be capable of handling plan rules without drawing additional efforts from an administrator. For example, with PlanSource’s Boost program, customers can simply enter the group numbers for their carrier into the PlanSource Benefit Administration system, and it automatically pulls over all the plans, rules, and rates, eliminating the need to manually enter information – saving the administrators valuable time.
ACT 3 – Foster the ability to create an instant data sync for HCMs
This is a critical area of focus that benefit administration systems should be actively working toward now, in order to maintain efficacy in an unforgiving industry. Information needs to be able to sync at any moment with partner organizations to ensure that this information is ALWAYS in alignment. This may sound like a no brainer, but without proper prioritization this process can often fall from view and become sluggish. Example – anyone in HR who has survived an open enrollment knows that plan rules or attributes can change down to the last moment during the implementation process, and even the smallest changes can cause critical errors if the plans have already been entered into the benefit administration platform. However, with benefit technology that focuses on having the data sync, the enrollment platform and the insurance carrier are in constant digital communication, so changes small to large seamlessly sync and provide both parties with the latest plan information at any given time.
For time savings and accuracy, finding a benefits technology platform that can do this is mission critical.
ACT 4 – Invest in an integrated process for EOI Questionnaires and decision automation
Ah yes, the once feared Evidence of Insurability (EOI) form: master of HR follow ups, wasted time, and lost paperwork. This process needs to become digital; it needs to be simplified, and decisions should be nearly instantaneous. This has been discussed ad nauseum in the industry for years now, but rarely does a functional process come to light. Both insurance carriers and consumers are searching for a simple solution in an increasingly digital world, so any benefit technology platform that can’t deliver is already critically behind the game, as the ‘want’ for digital EOI quickly becomes the ‘expectation’. Our advice for a successful enrollment is to find a platform that can do this now and is also working toward continuous improvement in making this process even easier for consumers in the future.
As you approach another enrollment season, possibly second guessing your current benefit technology platform, know that the state of the industry and the expectation of many consumers all comes down to speed and accuracy. The four themes above may dive into the specific changes that need to happen within the industry to stay modern, but it all truly distills into the ability to stay nimble and the promise to remain error-free. The old adage that ‘time is money’ remains as true as ever, especially now when communication efforts during enrollment can be easily hampered by the challenges of a remote workforce brought on by the current pandemic.
Expecting real time solutions and understanding that customers will no longer accept ‘the way things have always been’ as an excuse is why PlanSource is investing more than $12M in integrations with insurance carriers right now, and over the next 18 months. It’s important that our benefits technology solution carries with it the importance of the four themes of modernization listed above, while also keeping a careful eye toward the future on what comes next. A functional benefit technology solution needs to stay flexible enough to bend and improve with the times, as new expectations demand new requirements from the technology itself. With our technology solution, we know that the #1 thing we can do as a tech leader is to provide a modern, convenient and familiar customer experience, while making sure time savings and efficiencies are passed on to our partners in the HR field who are mission critical to successful open enrollments.
When you’re looking for quality benefits shopping solutions, be sure to search for a technology provider that has its feet planted in the present, but with an eye looking toward the future.