“Our people are our biggest asset,” the cliché goes. And businesses large and small go to greatly visible public lengths beyond just competitive salaries — office perks like catered lunches or ping pong tables, emphasize the collaborative and fun environment, and comprehensive benefits package — to demonstrate just how important “their people” are.
Benefits are the new talent battleground. Nearly 80% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an employer offering a comprehensive benefits package. But as benefits become an increasingly important differentiator in the recruiting and retention game, it can also create additional challenges for already overwhelmed HR teams who are tasked with managing those programs.
Industry experts recommend hiring an average of two full-time HR employees for every 100 company workers in other departments. The reality, however, is that most HR teams run much leaner — just a handful of people in total, and only one or two dedicated to benefits administration. As a result, many HR and business executives are turning to benefits automation to simplify benefits administration without adding headcount.
Not everyone is on board...yet
Like most solutions that unburden human teams of repetitive manual processes, automating benefits administration is designed to make everyone’s jobs (and their daily lives) easier. Automation solutions eliminate time-consuming tasks like benefits selection and enrollment, transferring data to and from benefits vendors, and simplify compliance reports to free HR teams to pursue higher-value activities like recruiting and training.
Still, some HR executives remain hesitant to invest in automation technologies because of budgetary constraints, fears about technology redundancy, and concerns about how well a new software will work with existing tools and systems.
Though all of these concerns have some validity, business leaders giving into them do so at considerable expense and at the expense of larger, business-building benefits. Some studies suggest that manual HR operations can cost businesses as much as $4.50 per task. Considering that HR teams already spend more than half their work day on manual activities like payroll reconciliation, job application processing, and other important tasks, both direct overhead and opportunity costs begin to quickly add up and turn the HR department from business enabler to business detractor.
Manually managing essential functions like benefits administration only adds to the loss by significantly increasing HR’s daily workload and further separates them from the higher value activities they’d prefer to be working on. In fact, the average employee only spends 18 minutes on their benefits election and enrollments, pushing a significant amount of responsibility for educating employees about their options and executing the enrollments back onto the HR team.
Gain cost-certainty and a competitive advantage with benefits automation
There’s a good chance that you didn’t hire your HR employees to serve as full-time benefits administrators. HR leaders eager to position their team as a valuable, strategic partner, and driver for the business must prioritize work efficiency and finding new ways of freeing their team members to take on a wider range of responsibilities.
Automating benefits administration can unshackle your HR team to focus more intently on other crucial activities like:
Workforce planning and recruitment
New employee onboarding modules
Continuous learning and enrichment programs
Business cultural development
Integrated human capital management (HCM) platforms can automate essential benefits tasks like:
Automatically generating the appropriate benefits options to enrollees based on eligibility and event rules
Providing benefit plan-specific guides, side-by-side comparisons, and customizable help text for greater employee self-service and less HR intervention
Consolidating benefits under one entity to minimize variability and one-off submissions
Enrolling employee in the guaranteed issue amount, automatically meeting EOI standards
In particular, cloud-based and integrated HCMs like SyncHR that feature a central database and unique position-based architecture for more data permanence and visibility also help to assuage concerns about cost-effectiveness and interoperability. These solutions automatically aggregate data from other enterprise applications and update them in real time in a central instance, virtually eliminating all manual data entry, data visibility gaps that prevent strategic decision making, and the need for cost-ineffective standalone tools that add more steps and more expenses to your daily HR activities.
Benefits comprise just one element of larger HR-led initiatives common to the most successful organizations in today’s competitive environment. And while most business leaders understand that offering generous benefits packages and competitive salaries is vital for simply surviving in an evolving business landscape, organizations that prioritize unburdening their employees of time-consuming manual tasks so they can focus on other long-term business initiatives like culture-building, training and development, and performance management are best positioned to actually thrive and build a sustainable competitive advantage.
Learn more about automating your benefits administration by downloading our “Path to a Smooth Open Enrollment” white paper or contact us to schedule a free personalized demo of SyncHR HCM.