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Technology’s Demand Improves Benefit Communication

Technology has transformed the business industry to allow buyer and seller to be in constant contact with one another. By providing a never ending flow of information, technology provides the business industry a timeless market. This limitless industry demands technology as a way of communicating between the consumer and supplier.  Today, technology acts as a catalyst for communication and has ultimately changed the ways in which we communicate as a society. Like the business industry, communication has adapted into a more digital form due to our culture’s dependence on technology. Many people today prefer their news on a screen rather than on paper, or they might send an email instead of writing a letter.  Why? Technology simply offers a more convenient and affordable way to communicate. As a result, companies are using the advantages of technology by creating technology platforms that allow employers to more effectively communicate to their employees. As a result, employers are using technology based platforms to better communicate and manage employee benefit programs.

Reaching Employees Effectively

Employee benefits are a huge factor when determining employee satisfaction. However, many employers do not effectively explain their benefits and the value they hold for an employee. Workforce Management stated that 96% of employers believe employees need help choosing the right benefits package, but merely 23% of employees thought that their company actually did a good job in explaining their benefits. In order to prevent misperception, employers must educate employees about their benefits using an effective way of communication. Benefit management platforms allow employees to compare packages and decide for themselves what benefits are best. As a result, employees can make an easier decision having been given the proper tools and information. Therefore, employees are more satisfied with their benefits package after making a decision based on information they understood and could compare.

Unlimited access via technology

Last year, SunLife Financial conducted a study that found 71% of employees favored the internet as the best way to learn about benefits. An online benefits platform allows unlimited access for the employee to search for benefits information conveniently during anytime of the day. In order to provide the most access, an online platform should always be available for employees to use on any desktop, laptop, or mobile device. As a result, information is ready when employees are ready.

Make cost comparison easy

The total cost of benefits takes into consideration many factors such as payroll deductions, taxes, and employer costs. Due to health care consumerism, employees should be knowledgeable of the variety of benefits packages available along with the different costs of each one. Employers can integrate comparison tools to show employees the difference in coverage and cost between the choices offered by their company. Employers can also use a platform for employees to view their total compensation package containing the base salary, incentives, and vacation. A total compensation analysis is an effective employee education and retention tool that quickly helps employees understand their company’s financial commitment.

Multiple forms of communication 

While employees seek easy-to-digest information, employers seek effective methods to deliver consistent messages. The challenge of communicating across a company is often complicated by geographic dispersion, language barriers and low engagement rates. In a recent survey from United Healthcare, 77 percent of employees said their employers should use simpler language to describe benefit options. Using clear, concise messaging and a variety of mediums, including printed materials, online materials and video, is the best way to reach the largest audience. Allow employees to choose their preferred method to receive benefits information, either via email, snail mail, text messaging or a combination of these.

Improving open enrollment

Using a benefits management platform, especially during open enrollment, streamlines benefits processes and allows employers to focus less on administrative tasks and more on strategic HR initiatives. Offering a platform to your clients means they can streamline open enrollment, reduce costs associated with distributing plan information, improve employee communication, personalize the enrollment experience and eliminate potential data entry errors. Employer business rules are enforced at the point of entry, ensuring that employees only see benefits information that pertains to them. HR professionals are able to store all benefits information in one place, approve all employee benefits elections and transmit benefits information electronically to their insurance providers and payroll systems.

Brokers and employers also see an increase in plan participation when using an online benefits management platform, which is especially important when offering voluntary benefits that supplement an employer’s benefit package. Incorporating enrollment for voluntary benefits into an employee’s core enrollment process eliminates extra steps that can deter employees from participating in voluntary benefits.

Improving your business

Broker-specific portals offer features similar to benefits management platforms but are focused on the unique business needs of a broker. Using a broker portal, brokers can generate quotes, shop and compare benefits plans, manage enrollment and communicate directly with clients. Online tools and videos can help guide clients through the sales process. Broker portals also streamline billing, enabling brokers to manage and pay one consolidated bill and view clients’ invoices and payment history.

As platform technology continues to transform consumer behavior, it is essential that employers and brokers adapt to changes in employee preferences. Using a benefits management platform allows employers and brokers to communicate with employees via a method they prefer while also streamlining benefits management. Understanding the value their customers gain from a benefits management platform will differentiate brokers from their competition. Partnering with a technology platform provider allows brokers to pass along the value of a platform directly to their clients and position themselves at the forefront of benefits management.

Source: February 2012 issue of Benefits Selling Magazine