With HR departments at small companies stretched so thin (many times one staffer handles all of HR), it’s no surprise many small companies are using benefits administration systems for their needs. But with new software vendors popping up every day, how do HR pros find the right system?
At the Dig|Benefits Conference in Austin, TX, Joshua N. Jeffries, a partner with Arkin Youngentob Associates, LLC, outlined the four most important steps small employers should take when selecting an “efficient, cost-effective” benefits administration system:
Step 1: Define your needs. What are you looking for in a benefits administration system? This step needs to go beyond HR and incorporate all departments within the company. Jeffries reminded HR pros that Benefits has one of the top Profit/Loss (P/L) line items for most businesses. Any soft-dollar spending in this area needs to be justified in your compensation plans.
Step 2: Evaluate your vendor. With the sheer number of vendors out there, this step can seem a bit daunting. But the process is much less intimidating when HR pros break it down into small questions.
Examples: What type of back-end customer support do I need? Is it broker-friendly — in other words, will most brokers be able to use the system easily and effectively? Does the system account for all ACA and other federal and state regs? Does the system offer a mobile component? Does the data make it home? If the system is giving employees easy access to their benefits, it should offer a mobile component for spouses and dependents. After all, most families use smartphones for virtually everything.
Step 3: Understand the implementation process. Obviously, you’ll want the system to be as accurate as possible, so you’ll want to do your homework and find out any vendors with less-than-stellar track records in this area. You’ll also want to find out if the system updates automatically or if that’s a separate undertaking.
Step 4: Change your culture. For many employees, any type of change is difficult. If your benefits administration system alters the way people are used to doing things, which it most likely will, you have to account for that — and find ways to make sure the new system can positively impact your company’s culture. Here, Jeffries lauded the use of employee committees as a means to educate staffers on how everything works and all that workers can get from a new system.
Based on “Platform Power — Solving Ben Admin For Small Businesses,” by Joshua N. Jeffries, as presented at the Dig|Benefits Conference in Austin, TX.