If there’s one area of Human Resources that is a perfect match for self-service, it’s employee benefits management. Think about it. Open enrollment comes once a year and your employees have only a limited amount of time to review their options and decide how they’d like to proceed. During the brief period your employees have to sign up for or change their benefits, an amazing number of questions come up. From the HR point of view, some of these questions are better, or at least more relevant, than others. From the employee’s point of view, however, each question they have is uniquely urgent, especially considering the short time they have to make their selections for the next plan year.
Maybe your HR department is forward-thinking enough to have prepared a presentation for your employees at the start of open enrollment. Perhaps you have handouts or PowerPoint slides explaining options and choices. But the reality is that you can never be 100% ready for every employee and their unique situations. In this respect, benefits aren’t that much different from payroll, except, of course, that it’s easier (or even possible!) to correct any mistakes with payroll. When it comes to benefits, we simply don’t have that luxury.
Bridging the Gap Between Employees and Enrollment
The biggest questions about employee benefits come at open enrollment time. HR professionals in general and benefits specialists in particular can expect to be inundated with calls and emails asking for more information and clarifications. What if we could make this information available for review and independent research via HCM?
Consider this. Employers have their benefit offerings set up, including rates, long before open enrollment. With HCM, you can make the offerings and the cost of the estimated pre-tax and after-tax deductions available to employees before open-enrollment, allowing your employees time to review their options and discuss it with their families. If you have self-service set up for your benefits, your associates can review and consider their options at home or on a mobile device anywhere they would like.
Of course, there’s more to enrolling in benefits than just open enrollment. Employees who are anticipating a life-changing event, such as getting married or having a child, can access information before the start of their 30 day special enrollment period. Using self-service, all employees can submit any additional documentation they need to provide to the carrier, such as a marriage license or birth certificate. At the end of the year, your employees will be able to access their 1095 forms online, as well as their W-2s.
Moving beyond health benefits, financial benefits such as 401(k) and Simple IRAs are also well-suited to employee self-service, allowing associates to choose how their retirement dollars are invested.
Using Self-Service to Simplify Employee Benefit Management
By empowering employees to use self-service for benefit enrollment and administration, we also simplify benefit administration and management for your HR team. Not only are employees able to research and select their own benefits on their own time and in their own way, but your HR team is no longer responsible for distributing, collecting, and preserving all of the sensitive documentation that comes with benefits enrollment.
Think about it. Traditionally, the administration of employee benefits required a ream of paper, most (if not all) of which contained sensitive information, such as Social Security Numbers, dates of birth and other information that had to be closely guarded. After this sensitive data was received, it would then be transmitted to the carrier. The security risks involved in this are almost overwhelming to consider. With HCM, the information can be safely and securely recorded and limited to the employee benefits company rather than indexed by someone outside of the insurance carrier and added to an employee’s file. This risk avoidance is not only beneficial to the company, but to the employee as well.
With HCM, employee benefits don’t have to be mysterious and confusing, open enrollment doesn’t have to be stressful, and everyone ends up with a better sense of their value to their employer. It’s a win for everyone involved.
For more information on how Commonwealth Payroll & HR can work with you on your strategic human resources planning, call us today at 877-245-1159.