Cracking the systems integration code in benefits administration

Benefits administration oftentimes consists of disparate systems speaking different languages, which can prevent HR and benefits platforms from working together effectively. Over 25% of benefit decision-makers believe that benefit administration systems are only “partly” integrated, according to EBN research. Employers and brokers agree that more integration between systems is critical. But what are they to do?

When it comes to benefits administration, employees demand a streamlined and accessible system. And why shouldn’t they? Almost all service-oriented activities in our lives today are made simple though technology; from mobile banking apps that allow 24/7 money management to grocery delivery services that save trips to the store.

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HR managers understand that health and benefits providers are fragmented. The same frustration is felt equally on the employee side. The problem? Lack of integration. The process of logging in to one portal to view insurance claims, using another to track vacation days, and yet another to manage retirement/401(k) plans wastes time and resources. Health, wellness, and financial benefits are all interconnected; the systems developed to manage these benefits must be as well.

The traditional approach to benefits administration just isn’t cutting it. Today’s employer needs more than another vendor; they need a partner. Benefits administration and management is an important part of HR’s daily responsibilities; however, it is one of many. The modern complexity of benefits management demands a consultative partner to provide technology and services that make the benefits experience personalized, flexible, simplified and consistent.

Benefits administration touches many facets of an individual’s wellbeing: Health, financial, social, professional, community. Between financial burdens, health and wellness issues, and family dynamics, no two employees will ever have the same needs. Even if two or more employees were to select the same benefits package, subsequent choices will yield unique outcomes. Employers are tasked with a critical responsibility to provide employees with education, options, and management tools to find the right package for their needs. It’s time to give them the means to manage benefits holistically across technology systems in ways that better serve and engage employees – and in the end creates a business advantage.

Data-collection solutions offering a 360-degree view of an employee with personalized dashboards are critical. Employers that make these types of upfront technology investments will be in position to analyze information, observe patterns, and visualize trends that begin to form a more complete health and financial profile of their employees. In the short term, collecting employee data can improve employer-employee engagement and connectivity. A WorldatWork survey noted that well-being programs led to reductions in health care costs (65%), absenteeism (61%) and disability (49%). Understanding how and why employees engage is critical in developing a benefits program that not only supports the overall well-being of your employees but delivers real value to your bottom line.

In the long run, employees receive more integrated and customized care, understand where to receive the best services, and are empowered to take a more proactive role in their health and financial well-being. For employers who support all aspects of health, their workforce is 32% more focused, 53% more engaged and 64% more productive, according to Virgin Pulse.

"Data-collection solutions offering a 360-degree view of an employee with personalized dashboards are critical."

Beyond technology, employers must understand that to change the current state, they must routinely assess each employee’s specific needs. Don’t know where to start? Start here:

  • Conduct a simple employee health and financial survey to collect information and gather insights. This puts the employer in position to explore a more strategic, tailored approach to managing health and wellness for the organization at large.
  • Make well-being a priority in your workplace. Offer a diverse range of benefits and programs that support the well-being of your employees and let them create their own personal benefits package that supports them and their family’s goals, including dependent care, commuter accounts and gym memberships.
  • Give your employees the tools and support they need to get and stay healthy in all aspects of their life (health and financial).
  • Personalize it. Everyone’s motivation is different – you need to meet your employees where they are by presenting relevant information in the ways they are comfortable receiving it (telephonic, text, video, email, etc) and at appropriate points throughout the year to educate or inspire them to take action.

Consider an employee who, on paper, presents characteristics of obesity. Too much information about the risks of diabetes and other diseases, combined with pressure to exercise and lose weight, offers little to motivate and empower that employee to take action. But what if the employer knew enough about the employee to make a specific recommendation for exercising; a suggestion that could tap into his/her personal interests? The right partner can offer an automated solution to manage the entire process from discovery to data collection to action, all while providing expert counsel along the way. The result? Employers have the resources to create more personalized programs that both empower and inspire change.

Short-term operational adjustments will help identify the challenges. Longer term investments in technology will lead to full employee engagement. Investments in analytics and data science platforms overall will help employers turn data into knowledge, and knowledge into action. The right combination of technology and engagement stands to revolutionize benefits administration as we know it, where personalization is king and a unified platform that brings together all the insights and generates actionable events will improve health and financial well-being for all.

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