Benefits tech ‘good for business, employees’

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Technology in the employee benefits space has a twofold effect, says Zenefits’ Arisa Amano: It makes life easier for employers while increasing employee satisfaction.

“HR and benefits administration has traditionally lagged behind the technology curve and below employee expectations,” says the company's vice president of product. “Creating more employee-centric experiences gives employees the ease, control and access they crave, while also reducing the administrative burden on HR. It’s good for employees and the business.”

Amano knows a thing or two about the HR tech space: She oversees the product suite — including benefits, HR and payroll — for tech-focused brokerage Zenefits. Significantly, she led a redesign of the overall product and the delivery of a platform for third-party integrations, culminating in the launch of Z2 in October 2016 and the company’s HR One release in January. For those efforts, Amano is a 2017 recipient of an EBN Benefits Technology Innovator Award, which recognizes visionaries who are driving technology innovation in the employee benefits space.

The HR One platform aims to be an all-in-one solution for HR needs by delivering access via mobile devices and notifying employers of deadlines for new compliance regulations.

“Compliance in general is such a major concern for personal businesses, even before all these potential changes that could be coming in the future,” Amano says. “Small businesses tend to spend over 200 hours a year just on regulation and compliance, and we know that just over 60% [of business owners] tend to struggle with that.”

The compliance app portion of HR One helps Zenefits clients stay ahead of compliance deadlines by syncing to personal calendars. It will even notify the client should an expected deadline change. HR One also handles HR functions such as payroll, hiring paperwork and time-off requests, among other tasks.

Zenefits products, including its mobile apps and online dashboard, also aim to simplify benefits selection and enrollment for employees, providing greater access to benefits information when and where workers need it, Amano says.

The technological shift of benefits administration is “already under way” but continuing, Amano says, noting that it will focus on “employee-centric experiences,” including ease of use, automation and access.

“These might sound simple, but easy is hard,” she says. “It requires a lot of work behind the scenes building systems and automation to hide complexity for users.”

With additional reporting by Cort Olsen.

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