It’s time for benefit tech partnerships

Everything changes.

That certainly applies to HR technologies — specifically those related to employee benefit solutions. For example, the benefit technology space has greatly evolved from simple benefit enrollment systems; new competitors now offer full benefit administration capabilities.

There’s also been a shift to year-round benefit delivery platforms that engage employees at a deeper level. These systems are elevating the experience beyond the “blocking and tackling” of benefits administration focused on employer solutions — now table-stakes — to customized mobile platforms that jibe with the corporate mission employers want to impart to employees.

Examples of situations requiring strategies that employers need help imparting to their employees year-round include:

· An employer with 22,000 employees and $20 million in avoidable emergency room claims. Education on alternative to help employees utilize telemedicine or other solutions.
· 30,000-strong system that has no way of connecting their employees during community emergencies.
· 16,000 employee manufacturer that, post-merger, had employees with both a $200 medical deductible (unionized) and a $5,000 deductible plan. If they didn’t migrate from the lower deductible plan to the higher, they risked bankruptcy in approximately five years.

All these dilemmas can be addressed through effective person-to-person services and robust mobile platform solutions. If you’re questioning the “engagement trend,” consider the connection between employee engagement and a firm’s financial performance per a report from HR.com. When asked to rate their organization’s financial performance in the most recent fiscal year compared to competitors in their industry, 40% said “less engaged organizations” and 60% said “highly engaged organizations.”

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Does the broker/consultant have a role in all of this? You bet. Helping design the strategies to address situations such as those mentioned is critical and the broker is key in identifying those solutions in partnership with the benefit technology company. This is especially true when the platforms have analytics to support the broker and/or the ability to help the broker drive push-and-pull notifications.

Partner collaboration — key to engagement

Never in the history of employee benefits have strategic partnerships mattered more than they do today. Employers and employees expect synergy and alignment between firms. They will not continue to tolerate bifurcated, or “unaligned,” healthcare systems. They demand all constituents work together to ensure an excellent employer/employee experience.

But how?

Now that we know the advantage of year-round benefit delivery technology, let’s examine the role of partnerships. Year-round engagement, consolidated in one-place for the employee, and managed efficiently for the employer, is achieved through a benefit delivery platform. With this in mind, it’s only logical that the same platform becomes the central point of data and “linkage” for everything benefits related. This is true for the employer, employee and his/her dependents.

This type of data is drawing the attention of C-suites in some of the largest firms in the country. They now know that HR engagement with employees, especially around benefits, is critical to job satisfaction and loyalty. In this way, exorbitant medical costs have shined a light on the value of benefits and the importance of communicating their value to employees.

Imagine your benefit delivery platform creating integrated relationships with the following: HSA/FSA providers, medical carriers, VB/group carriers, telemedicine firms, cost-transparency solutions, advocacy centers, Rx cost-solution operators, EAP companies and even payroll/time-attendance technologies. The same platforms are now helping employees leverage these effective solutions.

Why strategic partnerships trump HCMs

Many benefit-delivery firms have formed partner networks that operate as an all-in-one solution. All industry boats rise when such partnerships are formed.

If you think your HCM provider does this, I would advise a double check. I recently wrote an article that explains why all-in-one HCM solutions are not the great panacea. Benefit point solutions can handle complex benefits while human capital management or “all-in-one” platforms still struggle to figure out the complexities of benefits.

See also: Why all-in-one HCM solutions are not the great panacea

Rather, I propose using best-in-breed benefit point solution interface with payroll/HRIS partners (e.g. ADP, Ceridian and Ultimate) to create the right benefits delivery solution to meet the HR needs of your unique organization.

The most progressive mobile solutions are coming from benefit point solution companies and incorporate those same interfaces with great partners in the payroll/HRIS space. This makes the best-in-breed environment even more relevant for an all-HR focused mobile employer solution.

Consolidated mobile technologies that pull together disparate carriers, payroll organizations, HRIS (learning, PTO, etc.), telemedicine, 401(k), wellness, cost transparency, FSA and other data, all in one-view with drill-down abilities per category, simplify the experience and increase utilization. Focused and planned push/pull notifications through the app to the employee level that matches an employer’s strategic initiatives for the year, not just for HR, but for the whole organization, greatly increases the total ROI of the HR team.

If you are questioning if employers will execute mobile technologies for HR and specifically benefits, think again. According to Sierra-Cedars, consider that 91.4% of companies will increase HR’s IT spending related to benefit systems and staffing in the next 12 months.

Large employers, especially those with 500 or more employees, are finally seeing the value. In other words, the “free” technology solution is in jeopardy. Employers can now justify a separate line item in their budget as they do for payroll, time and attendance and other finance-related technology solutions. Welcome to the new HR technology world.

What’s refreshing is that we’re no longer in a situation where these concepts are academic. We finally have all the pieces and can execute the examples mentioned above and countless others.

Mobile technologies, full benefit delivery and partnerships are major tools with which to fully engage employees where they want to connect. It’s not being done through email, but rather via notifications from applications that consolidate all their HR-related information in one spot and make it easy, reliable and quick to access.

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