The use of technology is revolutionizing the way we do business and young professionals are uniquely positioned to add value to the industry. The practical use of technology in the employee benefit space is evolving, and in many ways, millennials are in the driver’s seat. With increased regulation, unsustainable medical cost increases, and an evolving workforce it’s easy to see why employers, brokers, consultants and employees are craving more technological solutions.

My generation (that’s right—I’m a millennial) has been raised on computers. That is, we tend to be early adopters of technology, and perhaps more importantly, we expect technology to make our work and life more interesting. There’s something about this alternate way of viewing processes that often leads me to the question, “Is there a better way to do this?” Or even better, “Is there a system to do this?”

Bloomberg/file photo

From an employer’s perspective, the benefits world is growing in complexity. Demand on HR professionals has increased due to ACA reporting requirements, so much that manual reporting just isn’t an option anymore.

Everyone is looking for the silver bullet to ACA reporting and while some technology firms can assist in ACA reporting, the output is only as good the input. In other words, the integrity of the data going into these systems will determine the quality of the reports being produced. These systems can be a huge help, but proper planning and implementation is required for success. As consultants, we’re expected to be as technologically advanced as these proposed solutions — enter millennials.

Drive for automation

Demographic make-up of the workforce is changing, too. There once was a time (long before me!) where paper enrollment was the norm. This just isn’t the case anymore. Millennials are set to be the largest generation in the workforce and their expectation is automation. The use of mobile devices coupled with the increase in benefit offerings to include voluntary products has only amplified the matter. This drive for automation can either produce a huge headache or a much more efficient HR team. A fundamental shift in the way benefits are being delivered is underway and, as consultants, we need to be ready for the shift. Our clients are demanding technology.

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Millennials are set to be the largest generation in the workforce and their expectation is automation.

It just so happens that this demand has been met with a wide supply of technology firms offering many different solutions. Technology has shown up in the form of human resources information systems (HRIS), decision support systems, benefit administration systems, healthcare exchanges and enrollment systems. The myriad of solutions can actually add to the confusion. These systems can be powerful aids to both consultants and benefit managers, but the implementation and planning must be done right.

Technology is not known for moving backward. These systems are getting more robust with more bells and whistles. A modern consultant needs to have a firm command of the new tools being offered while continuing to bring fresh perspective on how to use them. These tools are built to make our clients’ lives easier in the same way that millennials are built to harness them.

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Brian Murphy

Brian Murphy

Murphy is a risk management analyst in the human capital practice at Willis Towers Watson.