How to Automate Employee Benefits and Healthcare

Want to help your HR team save time and money? Automate your benefits adminstration.

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Here's what you need to know:

  • You can reduce the time and cost it takes to provide employee benefits through automation
  • When automating benefits and healthcare, cost savings come from administration, workflow, self-service, and more
  • Most HRIS platforms include a solution to automate benefits administration

Managing employee benefits is one of the most important responsibilities of an HR department. These benefits typically include health, dental, vision, disability, retirement, paid time off, sick time, and parental leave. Offering a wide variety of benefits at a reasonable cost is one of the most effective ways to recruit, retain, and engage top talent at your business.

Automating the benefits process can help reduce the time and cost it takes to provide these benefits, while making it easier to negotiate the best plans and rates with carriers.

Benefits administration is a full-time job in itself. It entails:

  • Signing up new hires during the onboarding process
  • Running open enrollment, the annual period where employees make changes to their benefit options
  • Communicating with employees about changes
  • Monitoring employee eligibility
  • Updating records to reflect employee life event changes
  • Tracking salary changes
  • Handing employee separations
  • Ensuring compliance with local and federal regulations
  • Managing plan audits
  • Keeping on top of costs

Can you imagine handling each of those processes with a manual system?

An automated benefits administration helps your HR team save time and money. In this guide, we’ll cover the advantages of automation, steps to quantify it for your business, and ways to evaluate the state of your HR department.

Advantages of automation

In addition to cutting down on paperwork and reducing the amount of hours spent on data entry, an automated process is advantageous because:

  • Employee self-enrollment costs $22 per employee, as opposed to $110 when HR manually enrolls an employee 
  • It allows employees to make a side-by-side comparison of health options for employees, so they can have an easy view of the cost and mix of benefits available
  • It reduces the time spent on open enrollment, cutting a 2 to 3 month process in half
  • Automation makes compliance easy. There are many complex laws that govern benefits, including ERISA, ACA, COBRA, HIPAAA, ADA, and EEOC
  • It keeps a record of what benefits are used by employees and associated costs, so administrators can easily determine what benefits and perks are advantageous to keep, and their associated costs
  • Integrations allow for benefits data to be exported to payroll, reducing data entry
  • Improved benefits engagement
  • Enhanced benefits / flexibility

Check-in: What is the state of your HR department?

Here are some questions to ask when you’re evaluating your HR department for the need for automation:

  • How would you describe your business’ open enrollment process? Does it rely on paperwork and manual spreadsheets?
  • How do new hires select benefits during employee onboarding? Are they given information about benefits packages via an intuitive user experience?
  • When an employee goes through a life event, how does HR determine eligibility? Are automated action prompts sent to the employee?
  • How do you handle data requests? Are you able to provide real-time information and create standardized or customized reports easily?
  • How do you secure sensitive employee data? Can you restrict who has access to it?

Quantifying how automation saves time and money

When automating benefits and healthcare, cost savings come from these major areas: 

  • Administration: Moving to a digital, cloud-based solution eliminates time spent on collecting and filing paperwork and buying office expenses. It also improves HR productivity.
  • Workflow: A benefits software solution will cut down on manual, tedious tasks traditionally done by HR. Triggered actions can auto-generate emails to employees.
  • Self-service: Eliminate the burden of manual data entry by introducing employee-self service. Certain HR admin functions — such as chasing down approvals, signing off on leave, and benefit selections — can shift to managers and employees.
  • Reporting: Instead of internal stakeholders coming to HR asking for reports, the right benefits software will allow you to build dashboards to display most sought after data, allowing managers to run them in real-time to get up-to-date information.
  • Liability and compliance: Having fewer manual entries will reduce the error potential. Additionally, a benefits solution with a compliance helper can warn you if you are out of compliance.

Moving to a digital, cloud-based solution eliminates time spent on collecting and filing paperwork and buying office expenses. It also improves HR productivity.

The Business Case: Use this worksheet to quantify how automation will save your business time and money.

Solutions to automate benefits administration

The most advantageous benefit of an automated benefits administration process is all the paperwork saved from new hire orientation, open enrollment, off-boarding, and life events.

A human resource information system (HRIS) is software that integrates HR management and information technology. Most HRIS platforms include a solution to automate benefits administration. You’ll want to look for one that is customizable, and allows options to administer open enrollment and includes a self-service eoption so employees have greater access to their own information.

The most advantageous benefit of an automated benefits administration process is all the paperwork saved from new hire orientation, open enrollment, off-boarding, and life events. Look for a solution that auto generates alerts and email to employees about enrollment periods, and guides them through the process of selecting or waiving benefits.

You will also want to look for a vendor that connects with your benefit provider to automatically reflect new enrollments, cancellations, and changes.

What to look for in a benefits solution

  • How well they automate workflows for administrators: Spend time defining your current benefits process and ask specifically how this benefits solution will solve your problems and reduce administrative burdens
  • Self-service: A simple, intuitive employee experience that allows for increased engagement
  • Mobile accessibility: Allow employees to enroll and access their benefits from an Internet device
  • Integrations: Syncs with payroll and other HR systems in real time
  • Reporting and analytics: You can access information on what benefits are utilized, total compensation statement, wellness program usage, and more
  • Compliance checker: Look for a software that has built-in safeguards, auto form filings, and deadline alerts. Some companies offer professional advisors to navigate more complex issues.
  • Security: Keeps employee data secure
  • Training and support: Seek a software solution that helps you set up the platform and provides ongoing support
  • Adapt and scale: As your company grows, will this solution be able to keep up with new offerings?

For more tips and worksheets to help you quantify how you can save your business time and money, check out our eBook: Formulas to Calculate the Value of HR Automation.

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