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The digital age of employee benefits is here. The broad trend toward digitalization is creating a paradigm shift for most industries, including human resources (HR) and employee benefits functions. More businesses are turning to human capital management (HCM) technology to integrate benefits administration, payroll applications, talent acquisitions, and workforce management platforms. Although small businesses have lagged in the adoption of benefits technology, the growth of software-as-a-service (SaaS) model provides more affordable access to cloud-based applications for handling various aspects of HCM. With benefits technology becoming a more affordable option for small business, it’s helpful for employers to seek expert advice from brokers to help them navigate what are the best options for their needs.

Transitioning from paper based benefits to digital can increase overall company efficiencies and satisfaction with their HR functions. In fact, Guardian Life’s 5th Annual Workplace Benefits Study, ”Game-Changer: The Digitalization of Employee Benefits Delivery,” found companies that are ‘highly digital’ have an 81% satisfaction rate when it comes to their benefits administration vs. 56% satisfaction for those companies that are mostly paper-based. Furthermore, firms that are “highly digital” report that their core benefits processes are more efficient compared to companies that are mainly paper-based for tasks such as enrollment, recordkeeping, and eligibility processing.

According to Gene Lanzoni, Assistant Vice President Thought Leadership at Guardian Life, “Digitalization not only has the potential to improve the employee experience and generate better engagement, but we are also seeing that the integration of benefits technology can positively impact productivity and the efficiency for those managing the benefits program.”

The rapid expansion of benefits technology offers employers a wider range of options; however, it also creates confusion about which vendors and capabilities are the best fit for the company’s needs. This is especially true for small business owners, who are often unaware of the possibilities and affordability cloud-based solutions provide. It is important to talk to benefits brokers and third-party administrators about benefits technology, the options available, and the best fit for the company and its employees.

If a company is thinking about building an employee benefits technology strategy, Guardian Life recommends companies evaluate the following five important steps to help minimize cost and maximize employee satisfaction:

  1. Start the conversation with a trusted advisor – The employee benefits landscape is changing and so is the technology. You’ll need a trusted advisor to help you navigate this process. For many business owners, this may be a broker, yet we recently found out that only 15% of small firms have had a conversation about technology with their broker. If you aren’t talking about it, you should. 
  2. Find a technology platform that fits your company’s needs – Before jumping straight into a new system, consider all current aspects of your organization (e.g. benefit programs) that will affect which type of HR & Benefits platform you select. This includes the current number of employees and their work locations, as well as workforce demographics (who may be more open to technology) and the number of benefit plan options required, as well as how they are funded. If your company allows flexible work, a mobile platform that will allow employees remote access to the software might be a good fit.
  3. Evaluate effects of new technology on current systems and processes – If you introduce new software into the mix, it may impact existing systems that your employees use on a day-to-day basis. Make sure to evaluate how the platform will operate with talent acquisition, payroll, and performance management.
  4. Seek easy-to-use software – With a variety of options, select an interface that will provide employees with an engaging user experience that offers easy access to their benefits. Be prepared to make selections between customized or standard configurations, as well as the types of data security features provided with each platform.
  5. Assess the need for digital integration – Companies range from 100% paper-based through fully digital. However, Guardian’s Benefits Technology Study shows that only 28% of small companies (25 to 99 employees) have full or partial HR system integration. Establish where the company falls on the scale and start there — figure out where there is room to improve and evaluate whether or not a new benefits platform can create efficiencies.

While competitive pay and good benefits have been shown to influence an employee’s decision to join and stay with a company, it is also becoming increasingly important to deliver a more targeted, personalized approach that caters to an increasingly diverse workforce. According to a recent Guardian Life Report, “What Employees Want, Benefits that Drive Engagement and Retention,” 70% of employees strongly agree: “I am more likely” to be loyal to a company that offers employee benefits that are personalized to my needs.”

One of the best ways to personalize and improve the employee experience is through easy-to-use digital benefits platforms. For more information about the digitalization of employee benefits visit here.

Sponsored by Guardian Life

Brian Moran

Brian Moran

Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was the Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal where he oversaw the sales development and marketing programs for the financial and small business categories among the many Journal brands. From 2002-2010, Brian was President of Veracle Media and Moran Media Group.

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