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Best Practices For Optimizing Online Benefits Enrollment Systems

David Rook

There are countless online employee benefits enrollment systems out there today. While each is designed to make everyone’s lives easier — employees, employers, insurance carriers, payroll providers and benefits advisors alike, some don't quite live up to the hype.

While the initial transition from paper enrollment to any one of these online enrollment systems typically yields tremendous upside from an efficiency, speed and data integrity perspective, it's highly unusual for an enrollment system to be fully optimized for peak performance at first launch.

Tweaking and perfecting the system in the quest to maximize performance and outcomes should be an ongoing activity within your organization. Most agree that the goal of optimizing these systems is to make them as easy and intuitive as possible for your employees to use, while also guiding educated, informed and appropriate employee benefit decisions for your workforce.

Much of what’s considered “best practice” in online benefits enrollment has been adopted from best practices in eCommerce. After all, enrolling in benefits these days isn't that far off from purchasing something off Amazon, comparing cars at AutoTrader, or configuring a laptop at Dell.

While this list is by no means complete, here are some best practices you should consider adopting to optimize the configuration of your online benefits enrollment system for peak performance.

Capitalize on Nudge Theory 

While "nudge theory" won Richard Thaler a Nobel prize in economics, the concept is quite simple. It’s a subtle policy shift that encourages people to make decisions that are in their broad self-interest.

Put into practice, it simply means using "opt-out" as the default option for certain benefit selections. This requires someone to actively deselect an option. Failure to do so results in auto-enrollment in that benefit. A great example of nudging is pre-selecting a 3% contribution into an employee's 401(k) vs. leaving the field blank. This simple change will have a massive impact on 401(k) participation.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Automation, Decision Tools, Strategy, open enrollment

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6 Ways Employee Benefits Administration Automation Can Save You Time (and Money)

David Rook

Some employers choose to take on employee benefits administration with paper forms and spreadsheets, thinking they’ll save money. They see the cost of online automation, coupled with the monthly commitment — usually per employee, per month (PEPM) — and find it hard to believe the benefits of the software would be worth the investment. It’s true that employee benefits administration software is not free, but the benefits of automation far outweigh the cost.

The reality of the situation is that regulation complications, paperwork, and human error end up costing employers far more time than it's worth. And of course, that doesn’t include the fines your business could incur as a result. Here are six ways employee benefits administration automation can save you time and money.

1. Increased Efficiency for Both Employer and Employee

Automated employee benefits administration increases efficiency for both you, the administrator, and your employees who use it. Regardless of the task you are trying to complete, it will, in short order, take less time when it’s automated as opposed to old-fashioned spreadsheets, or worse, paper. 

Many companies still have employees fill out paper forms, which an HR director or assistant then has to manually enter into a payroll system, an HR system, and the health insurance system. What took two or three people to accomplish could have taken one — the employee — if an employee benefits administration platform was used. With well-organized systems, all those different parts talk to each other and disperse the information where it needs to go, which means you get to focus on real work instead of paperwork.

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Topics: Automation, Disruption, Technology, Enrollment, Compliance

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Private Exchanges: Nothing More Than A Rehash of an Old Idea

David Rook

If you think private healthcare exchanges are the cutting-edge solution to rising healthcare costs, think again. In reality, they are essentially a clone of the cafeteria-style benefit plans that date back to the 1970s. The main difference is the technology used to select and implement employee benefits.

Simply put, here's how a private exchange works: employers or exchange sponsors offer a package of coverage choices, define a contribution amount that acts as the employee's budget, and the employee selects how to allocate their budget dollars.

This basic process may seem like the answer to today's healthcare woes for both employees and employers. However, there are some important realities employers need to know about when it comes to providing healthcare through a private exchange.
 

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Topics: Private exchanges, Employee Benefits, Cost Containment, Automation

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Six Ways Technology Is Impacting Human Resources

David Rook

Managing an organization’s human capital is a complex job, and technology can automate and streamline aspects of it that before required hours of paperwork and rote calculation. The time technological solutions is freeing-up is allowing HR professionals to play a bigger role in the strategic direction of their companies. 

In fact, thanks to these advancements, the HR function is becoming more mobile, analytical, and adaptive - with HR analysts providing more insight into corporate direction, predictive hiring trends, and analysis of benefits and compensation plans.

Here are six primary ways technology is affecting HR:

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Technology, Automation

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Helpful HR Administration Hints to Thrive as an HR Department of One

David Rook

Are you the only person in the role of human resources at your company? Don't worry, you’re not alone. According to research from the Small Business Association's SCORE Association, human resource work takes up 25 to 35 percent of a small business owner’s schedule and almost a quarter of that time is spent handling paperwork for their employees.

Many businesses are choosing to forego a large human resources department in favor of hiring just one person who can perform HR duties as well as other responsibilities. For example, it's not uncommon for sole HR representatives to train new employees, recruit prospective new hires, manage conflict, handle payroll and administer health benefits.

We know that juggling all of these roles can be exhausting, regardless of whether you are new to the company or a seasoned professional. So are you an HR department of one? If so, below are some checklists and hints that will help you thrive in your current role.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Administration, Automation

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Form 1095 FAQs - ACA Reporting & Employee Benefits Compliance

David Rook

Form 1095 FAQs - ACA Reporting & Employee Benefits Compiance

If you are struggling with ACA reporting forms 1095 and 1094, you’re not alone. Form 1095 is the first new major tax form to be introduced in the U.S. in more than 70 years, making it a significant source of concern for many employers.

Rest assured, with the new deadline of March 31st, 2016 to distribute 1095 forms to your employees, you still have time, but you do need to get moving. And since the arrival of the forms in the mail may raise questions, we recommend that you proactively reach out to your workforce to help them understand what they'll be receiving.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance, Automation

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Zenefits: Whatever Happened to “Under-Promise and Over-Deliver?”

David Rook

Zenefits: Whatever Happened to "Under-Promise and Over-Deliver?"

The resignation this week of Parker Conrad as the CEO of tech darling and HR administration upstart Zenefits should hopefully serve as a wake-up call to other technology providers in the fledgling health insurance and human resources technology sectors.

The digital transformation of these industries is inarguably long overdue. Many group insurance brokers fear this disruption, still clinging to vestiges of the past. But long gone are the days when brokers could retain clients simply based on relationships: the annual round of golf, dinner out with the spouses, and a slap on the back just don’t cut it any more. Results matter.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Cost Containment, Technology, Automation

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