Benefits Brokers: Key things to look for in an HCM Technology Partner


Over the past year, dramatic changes in workforce dynamics have forced organizations to shift where and how work is conducted. Many companies find themselves with a pressing need to be more agile and technology-driven, to the extent that 90% of businesses say they now need a refresh or new HR operating model according to HR analyst Josh Bersin’s HR Predictions for 2021 report.


As a result of these changes, brokers face a new dynamic, too. 


Operating as an extension of a client's HR team, benefits brokers provide added value by providing insight, counsel, and bringing companies new solutions that make the task of selecting the right human capital management (HCM) platform easier. Changing workforce dynamics change the requirements of those new solutions — leaving brokers with new evaluation criteria for their best recommendations.


For example, in a recent broker spotlight webinar hosted by SyncHR and PrimePay, a survey of 91 attendees revealed that 67% of employee benefits brokers are recommending a full-suite platform solution to their clients, compared to 14% who recommend a platform that manages just benefits enrollment, and 2% recommend an HR-only solution. 


When asked why they recommend HR technology, the overwhelming majority (84%) stated to provide a needed resource to my clients. Other reasons identified included to have better control over benefit data (51%), to maximize benefit enrollment (49%), for competitive reasons (49%), and because my clients requested it (42%).


Benefits brokers navigating this new landscape of workforce dynamics have an opportunity to cement their role as trusted advisor. Here are four key functionalities to look for in today’s HCM technology market:


(1) Position management

The role of HR can often feel chaotic, especially in large dynamic organizations where employees are frequently moving around, in, and out of the company. HR teams can struggle to keep pace with the changes because most HCM systems are designed from an employee-based perspective. That is, in an employee-centric system, a new hire is made, and a profile is created to capture the details relating to the role, compensation, and performance. Because that data is attached to the employee, when they move, the data disappears with them. And HR must start over when a new employee is hired.


An HCM designed to manage positions, rather than people, stores employee data and position data separately and seamlessly links them together. Linking data in this way — to the position, not the person — drives data integrity and accuracy, and accommodates dynamic changes in workflow and security as people move in, around, and out of the organization, all without losing visibility to headcount or budget associated with each position.


Related: What is HR Position Management?


(2) Planning and real-time reporting capabilities

Many organizations faced furloughs and layoffs in the past year, leaving millions of Americans out of work. As the economy has recovered, employers are experiencing a post-pandemic rebound resulting in a competitive talent market. In fact, the HR Predictions for 2021 report revealed the same number of job openings in June 2021 as there were in June 2020, illustrating how employers are currently facing a new war for talent. 


In response, companies are strategically shifting from traditional career path models to a facilitated mobility model. This approach focuses on moving employees to new positions within departments, as well as to different departments and divisions, in order to retain and grow talent within an organization. This is a more dynamic process, which means HR teams need HCM solutions that can support this type of non-vertical movement. 


Benefits broker’s clients work hard to develop staffing plans that address the shifting talent landscape to meet their company’s business goals. But unless those plans can be easily updated and readily accessible, they often end up flying blind when it comes to filling positions. HCM solutions that provide robust planning capabilities, past, present, and future workforce reporting functionality, and access to real-time budget to actual cost comparisons will help them with their talent strategy so they can make better, more informed decisions.


Related: What is a Workforce Planning Tool?


(3) Extensive integrations

With a strategic focus on talent mobility, more companies may be implementing talent marketplace platforms. These systems give employees access to learning and development opportunities, allowing them to promote their skills and match them to open positions within the organization. But talent mobility comes with an increased need for training. Coupled with the shift to remote and hybrid work, this is why brokers are seeing a renewed desire for digital learning and development offerings. As the demand for content continues to explode, Bersin predicts there will be a significant amount of disruption in the L&D market. 


Employee benefits brokers need to be on the lookout for an HCM that can seamlessly integrate with talent marketplace platforms, LMS solutions, and other mission-critical systems within the organization. Integrations that are of particular importance to organizations include carrier feed connections. Challenges with establishing carrier feed connections can be common, so seek out an HCM technology partner that is nimble and able to move quickly to ensure carrier integrations are set up, tested, and live in a timely manner.


Related: ROI on Insurance Carrier Connectivity Solutions.


(4) Flexibility to go big or start small

The HR field is quite firmly in a time of transformation. The pandemic brought HR to the forefront and required HR professionals to adapt their processes to accommodate on-the-fly changes rapidly. And as the world of work will continue to transform, analysts predict that HR will be a center of innovation. Organizations need HCM solutions that are flexible and can adapt as they continue innovating and refining the processes. 


While there are many advantages to a full suite, single-source solution that automates, streamlines, and simplifies administering HCM, some clients may not be in a position to bring on a comprehensive suite that includes everything from payroll to benefits administration to talent acquisition and L&D. With an HCM solution that has built-in flexibility, they can still benefit from having a secure, centralized architecture that keeps data intact across all their systems.


SyncHR HCM is a unified HR ecosystem that is a single system of record. Built with a position-based architecture, it streamlines and automates workflows, eliminates manual administrative tasks, reduces benefits leakage, and allows you to deliver more value for your mid-enterprise clients. Contact us to learn more and schedule a demo. 


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Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach turns cutting-edge research and data into captivating HR technology marketing content. She loves to consider the possibilities of humanizing, organizing, and minimalizing all things HR, and her writing helps HR executives and professionals develop their instincts and arrive at actionable insights for employee engagement and business performance.

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