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The path less traveled: Why the easy way isn’t always the best way for benefits administration

The path less traveled: Why the easy way isn’t always the best way for benefits administration
Posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 by Rae Shanahan
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It’s safe to say most people want their lives to be easier.

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 The “easy way” can be enormously beneficial – it’s hard to remember life before GPS when maps were the only navigational tool – however, it isn’t always the best approach. My favorite example of the “easy way” gone wrong is when building a piece of furniture. Most people’s instinct is to ignore the 30-page instruction manual and start putting nuts and bolts wherever they seem to fit.

But unless you want a three legged kitchen table, taking the time to assemble the furniture the right way – instruction manual and all – is the surest path to success.

This same mindset should be applied to benefits administration. At Businessolver, we believe complexity is not the enemy and simplicity is not always the answer. We’ve found that most benefits administrators agree. In fact, according to a recent survey we conducted, more than 9 out of 10 (94 percent) of surveyed benefits administrators say getting benefits administration right is more important than making the process easy.

When you take the time to get employee benefits right the first time, everyone wins:

  • Employees feel informed about their options and confident that their benefits selection is the best fit for them.
  • Employers feel secure that their workforce is being cared for and supported.
  • Benefits administrators experience a more seamless enrollment process and gain peace of mind that employees are equipped with the best possible benefits packages.

But in a world where the “easy way” is prioritized, it can be hard to know how to get it right. Here are a few tactics you should consider – a three-step instruction manual that will guide your company to success:

Engage employees

According to the 13th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, more than half of surveyed employees at small businesses (51 percent), and nearly half of surveyed employees at medium and large businesses (41 percent), said they were not confident they made the right decisions at their last annual enrollment. Unfortunately, these statistics are not surprising. One of the biggest challenges of enrollment is a lack of understanding by employees. Too often, they are unclear about what their options are and which of those options are right for them.

Engaging employees from the start is key to getting benefits administration right. Whether through social media surveys, in-person brainstorms or individual discussions, it’s important to gain knowledge of what employees want and where there are gaps in their understanding of the benefits available to them. Employee insights allow benefits administrators to develop communications and programs that cater to their company and close the gaps of confusion.

Leverage technology

Benefits administration done right isn’t always easy. But it doesn’t mean tools that lend to a more harmonious process shouldn’t be employed. There are a number of solutions that can help with enrollment and ongoing benefits management – from providing easy access to critical program data and monitoring the success and effectiveness of your benefits offering, to helping your team make educated decisions about plans.

When bringing technology into the process, it’s important to choose tools that help conquer your biggest benefits administration challenges. Most of the software platforms on the market can and should be configured to meet the specific needs of your company.

Communicate year-round

Typically, employees only think about benefits during enrollment or after major life events. Employees reach out continuously in the weeks leading up to enrollment with questions and concerns, or frantically seek answers in the wake of a personal matter. Rightfully, it can become overwhelming – questions fall through the cracks and go unanswered, rushed timing results in snap decisions and everyone is left feeling concerned and uneasy.

Instead, healthy dialogue about benefits should happen year-round and benefits administrators should help employees understand how benefits fit into their daily lives – not just during annual enrollment or after a life change. Employees should be encouraged to ask questions at any time. Educational sessions, such as lunch and learns or office hours, should be implemented to help employees understand how their benefits – from health insurance to financial planning – can support and empower them to live their best lives.    

Click here to learn more about benefits administration done right, and check back for more posts on the topic. We’ll share additional insights on each of the tactics we outlined here.