Human Resources and Technology, Part III: Benefits
For a smoothly running business, all organizations have to devote attention to the administrative pillars that support your business. One of the foundations of a well-functioning and successful business is the human resources department. And yet, the sheer amount of information an HR department manages makes it potentially more prone to actually increasing overhead cost or slowing momentum. This is especially true of an essential function of HR, managing employee benefits. Managing benefits requires handling constantly shifting employee information and needs, managing providers, as well as adapting quickly to ever-changing rules and regulations. The advancement of technology, however, has removed a great deal of the concerns and financial burdens that was previously inherent in the management of benefits.
Providing Benefits Information
Every time an organization changes its benefits package, or a benefits enrollment period is opened, massive amounts of data have to be adapted then disseminated. Previously, the overhead expense to do so could be quite large. During annual enrollment alone, costs were inflated by the resources needed to prepare, produce, and ship information and form packages to employees. Technology, however, not only reduced these expenses, but made the updating and providing of benefits information an almost paperless event. Rather than mailing new documents each time a change occurs, employees are emailed the documents or provided a link to the information stored on in-house HRIS HP Servers. Additionally, companies are better able to adapt to changing conditions. While previously they might have been less likely to make beneficial changes due to the cost of altering and advertising even small alterations, now this can be done for little to no cost, almost instantly.
Processing Benefits Information
Processing benefits for employees means juggling an enormous amount of data. Previously, elections or changes were made by completing forms by hand, which also had to be processed manually, one at a time. The process was not only incredibly slow and costly in man-hours, but the human element meant mistakes were easily made through omissions, lost paperwork, or incorrect processing. Thanks to new technology, such as benefits software and HRIS databases, the processing of benefits becomes virtually effortless and seamless. Rather than filling out forms, employees can now simply electronically select their benefits. Automation allows the information to be immediately updated in company HR databases, and may even automatically update payroll deductions/additions, as well as transmit that data electronically to insurance and finance providers. Human oversight is made less necessary as these programs can automatically disallow any elections or changes that violate corporate or legal regulations.
Storing Benefits Information
Before technology, providing employee benefits resulted in an avalanche of paper, wasting resources and space. To comply with both corporate and legal regulations, organizations are required to keep certain employee records, like salary, tax documents, and of course, benefits information. In paper form, these records were burdensome to store, retrieve, maintain and update. But today, most employee information can be stored electronically, reducing costs and effort for upkeep. Also, the private nature of these records, particularly medical data, compels a company to protect such information. Storing the information electronically is often a more secure method than paper storage. Additionally, while a misplaced or destroyed paper file might be disastrous, a simple and effortless regular backup of all electronic employee data means business continues.
The best employees are attracted by a good benefits package. Therefore, many companies offer these perks, but find that offering benefits can be complicated. With the help of technology, however, an HR department can complete its primary function of helping to propel a company forward and smooth the path ahead.