There are pros and cons for most employers when it comes to evaluating whether to implement an integrated HR and benefit technology solution or use one or several standalones. Knowing which solutions work for which clients is a crucial value-add for advisers to provide.

In an interview with Employee Benefit Adviser, ADP’s president of benefit services, Gerry Leonard, talks about the differences between the solution models and the critical role advisers can play in helping employers choose one.

Gerry Leonard

EBA: Employers increasingly are looking for an all in one solution for HR and benefits. What types of solutions are out there for them that brokers can consider?

Leonard: t used to be that multiple vendors with best of breed was fine and having an integrated system was sort of a “nice-to-have.” The ACA has really sort of turned it into a much more vital part of why people are looking for integrated technology. It starts with the basics, but you have to find out who is eligible for benefits and in order to do that you have to have the payroll history. So everything sort of builds off of the payroll history. If you have an integrated time and labor system you can capture your hours and look back and find out who is eligible for benefits and who isn’t.

We like to say our clients are looking to tackle four problems, four critical business issues: cost, compliance, consumerism and culture. The four Cs. So for cost, you’re trying to make sure you’re only providing benefits for those who are eligible, which also helps with compliance, too. In our system, we can also send the non-eligibles off to an integrated public exchange as part of our offering, as well. Once you have a consensus of eligible employees, you need to look at how many of the dependents are eligible for benefits, too. This continues to scale down the risk pool for the employer by only providing benefits for the people they intend to offer benefits to.

You also want to be able to present the benefits in a consumer-friendly way. How do you provide a look and feel that has the Amazon experience feel? We also help with decision support tools and a system that works online or on mobile or iPads.

This concept of having all of that technology integrated into one place is important because it helps you from a compliance standpoint, helps you get a handle around the cost, engages the consumer.

EBA: Are there employers still looking for standalone systems? What are the pros and cons?

Leonard: Some employers still have bifurcated decision making groups. For example, one group that makes decisions about HR, another for payroll, etc. And maybe one group has decided that they have a direction they want to go in with a system that meets their unique needs. I think the higher up market you go, the more unique the needs get. Some employers have unique needs around legacy products and they might need a customized solution.

EBA: How can brokers help employers decide what system works for their company?

Leonard: We are huge fans of brokers as key advisers to clients. We encourage the brokers to talk to clients about what is their strategy for Human Resources. What are they trying to accomplish? Then they can back into what technology the employer wants to use to accomplish that. They should ask questions such as: How married are you to one carrier? Would you rather go with a carrier agnostic solution? What technology can we implement for you that allows you the freedom to change carriers down the line? Brokers should talk to employers about the compliance piece, as well. Asking questions such as: How are you going to pull the payroll piece together with the benefits and time and labor? How are you going to move the files to carriers? Who will help you manage premium reconciliation?

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"A broker should sit down with a client and talk to them about what their benefit strategy is, what they’re trying to accomplish."

A broker should sit down with a client and talk to them about what their benefit strategy is, what they’re trying to accomplish. Does the concept of integrating payroll makes sense to them? How are you addressing compliance. There are things brokers and advisers can sit down with employers and work out and then also start to think about how these systems are going to influence whether somebody comes to work there or not.

Brokers have a phenomenal role in being this trusted adviser; helping employers decide what to communicate, how often to communicate, etc. It’s sort of a best practice for advisers to show that they’re thinking about how the employment brand is impacted.

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