Blog | HR |
10 Min Read
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January 26, 2024

A Comprehensive Guide to Benefits Administration Software

by Morris Isaacson

Manual processes are common in healthcare but inefficient. They’re time-consuming, error-prone and can cause low staff morale. And, if your healthcare organization starts to grow, it becomes even harder to keep on top of manual processes. 

Managing employee benefits is no exception. There are laws and government regulations to follow, costs that you must consider and a benefits package that you must keep up to date. With manual processes, it’s hard to keep tabs on all these elements. 

So what’s the solution?

Benefits administration software is a good place to start. 

With the right software, you can streamline the entire benefits management process, centralize all your employee data, ensure that you comply with federal and state laws and manage benefits from a single location. 

By the end of this article, you’ll know the advantages of using benefits administration software, how to find the right platform for your organization and how to implement it successfully.

What is employee benefits administration software?

Benefits administration software (BAS) helps HR professionals manage employee benefits, including holiday plans, retirement savings plans and more. 

The software streamlines the benefits administration process, providing HR teams with a central location to access and manage all benefit data. It reduces the need for manual processes, minimizes human error and ensures effective employee benefits management. 

Employee benefits administration software offers many features, with some of them including:

Enroll employees for benefits

Set up employees on the platform and allow them to access their benefits digitally. 

Automate repetitive tasks

Streamline administrative and repetitive tasks with automation.

Manage eligibility

Ensure employees qualify for certain benefits, such as dental coverage or health insurance. 

Customization

Use customizable features to suit your healthcare facility’s needs. 

Access benefits data

Review and analyze benefits data to make informed decisions and understand benefit costs. 

What is the best benefit administration software?

The best benefit administration software depends on the features you need. Not all platforms have the same capabilities, and there is no single software that works best for every healthcare facility. 

However, finding a benefits system that simplifies the process is a good place to start. That way, your HR team can manage employee benefits as efficiently as possible. 

With Empeon, for example, you can add all your benefits into a centralized dashboard to oversee important aspects of employee benefits. You can also manage other HR responsibilities with our software, like handling payroll, preparing for taxes, and onboarding new employees.

What are the types of employee benefits you should offer?

According to research from the Society for Human Resource Management, here are some of the most common types of employee benefits:

  • Health

    These typically include medical, dental and vision insurance. Some employers also cover wellness programs, such as funding gym memberships or counseling services. 

  • Retirement plan

    Involve employer-sponsored plans that help employees save for retirement, such as a 401(k).

  • Leave

    Cover the different types of uninterrupted time off work, including vacation days, sick days and FMLA. 

  • Flexible work

    Offer employees an adaptable work schedule to improve their work-life balance. For example, allow flexible work shifts, compressed hours or job sharing. 

  • Family care

    Support employees with familial responsibilities. This includes parental leave and childcare assistance. 

  • Professional and career development

    Focus on helping employees develop their skills and progress in their career opportunities. Benefits could cover tuition costs, training workshops or mentorship opportunities.

What are the advantages of a benefits administration system?

Aside from employee benefits, a benefits administration system also offers advantages for your healthcare organization. It makes benefits processes more efficient, improves the accuracy of your benefits management, and ensures compliance with federal and state regulations. 

Keep reading to learn more about these benefits (and a few others) in more detail. 

Increase efficiency

With a BAS platform, everything is digitized, accessible and easy to amend. You’ll spend less time consolidating information and more time focusing on other important tasks, like supporting staff to deliver the best patient care. 

Depending on the platform, you can also automate tasks to streamline administrative activities, such as benefits enrollment, health plan selection and employee updates. 

An employee self-service portal allows your staff to manage their benefits — like the Employee Self-Service Hub at Empeon. This reduces the administrative burden on HR personnel and improves efficiency. Employees can access benefits information, make changes and submit requests without the support of an HR rep. 

Centralize data

A BAS platform centralizes all benefits-related data. Employee information, benefit plan details, contribution rates and dependent information are all saved in a single location. As a result, it’s easier to manage employee benefits. The information is all in one place, so you don’t have to refer to different documents to access crucial information. 

Plus, it streamlines data updates, providing access to the most recent employee data and facilitating informed decisions about employee benefits.  

This also benefits employees, providing access to all the information they need in a centralized hub, giving them total control over all their benefits. With a comprehensive benefits administration platform, they can manage health and life insurance, track performance reviews and monitor retirement plans. Plus, they can compare plans and costs for themselves and their dependents.

Improve accuracy

BAS systems remove the need for manual updates, minimizing human error and improving accuracy. You can also send automatic reminders to employees to update their information, get real-time access to employee information and make instant coverage adjustments to reflect any changes. 

You can use your BAS system to identify whether employees qualify for certain benefits. The software compares employee information with benefit requirements to confirm eligibility, reducing the risk of data errors and inconsistencies with qualifying employees for certain benefits. 

This way of working decreases the likelihood of disputes. It also improves employee satisfaction, making it easier for them to update their information and access the correct benefits information.

Ensure compliance

Most BAS platforms help you comply with federal and state regulations*, like the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Depending on your platform, you can automate compliance checks to flag potential issues or discrepancies. Then, you can address any concerns as promptly as possible. Knowing you’re following the right regulations puts your mind at rest — unexpected penalties or fines won’t crop up out of the blue.

BAS platforms can also generate reports you need for compliance reporting, helping you keep on top of audits and avoid penalties. For example, audit documentation and reports for regulatory bodies.  *Check the features of your BAS platform to ensure it can help you with compliance. 

Offer a better employee experience

Open enrollment for benefits is often done manually, with deductions manually added to the payroll. Benefits administration software eliminates the need to manually input deductions and contributions into payroll, as the information will automatically flow on the benefits’ effective date. This eliminates payroll errors and empowers employees. 

Most systems also include self-service portals where employees can view and manage their benefits. This allows them to make personalized selections during open enrollment, check plan details and manage their benefits without going through another staff member.

It provides them with a convenient and efficient user experience, which can build trust and boost team morale. Plus, having access to all this information can empower employees. Your team can take control of their benefits and ensure they receive the perks they desire. 

How to find the best benefits administration software

There are two considerations to take into account when choosing a benefits administration system for your healthcare organization: 

  • Finding a platform with the right features
  • Choosing a system within your budget 

Below are details of these two considerations when choosing the right benefits administration software.

Identify features you need

It’s vital to start by understanding the features your healthcare facility needs to successfully track, manage and administer benefits. If a system doesn’t have the features you need, you won’t be able to manage your benefits effectively. 

For example, let’s say you want to better understand your spending on benefit expenses. Obtaining this information could be difficult if your BAS system doesn’t have any reporting features,  

Here’s how to identify the features you need in a BAS platform:

Regulations
Review your current systems and processes.

Start by reviewing the current systems and processes you have in place for managing benefits. What works well, and what improvements need addressing? Are there any gaps in your existing benefits processes? This will show you what features you need to improve your benefits management. 

Get stakeholder input.

Talk to other leaders, decision-makers, employees and any other relevant stakeholders for their input. Talking to a broad range of positions gives you a wider perspective on the features needed to run a successful benefits system. 

If you’re unsure about the features you require, here are some of the most popular ones to consider.

1. Benefits enrollment

Benefits enrollment allows employees to register in benefits programs, select their coverage options and make changes during open enrollment periods. 

It reduces paperwork, minimizes errors and frees time for HR reps to focus on other work areas. Employees don’t need direct support from the HR team to sign up for their benefits, which streamlines the process and reduces workload.

It also helps you streamline the benefits enrollment process, ensuring accurate and timely enrollment. 

2. Eligibility management

Eligibility management involves determining an employee’s suitability for specific benefits based on employment status, hours worked and salary. Instead of manually checking which employees qualify for certain benefits, the software manages it automatically.

Eligibility management also improves accuracy. The software reviews the data to check eligibility, reducing the risk of errors in benefit distribution. 

3. Automation

Automation improves efficiency throughout the entire benefits administration process. It streamlines work and reduces the need to spend time manually handling repetitive tasks. 

For example, you could create an automated notification when an employee updates their benefits package. The trigger (the action the employee performs to set the automation in motion) automatically sends you a notification so you can review the changes.

4. Customization

People want the flexibility to choose their preferred benefits. With customizations, you can create a BAS system that allows employees to do this, giving them a better user experience. 

For example, a customizable benefits system allows healthcare professionals to access their retirement and insurance plans from anywhere. This makes it easier to manage their budgets while maximizing their benefits.

It also allows you and your employees to tailor the software to suit your needs and policies, making it more efficient for your specific healthcare facility. 

5. Analytics and reporting

Analytics and reporting features allow you to analyze critical insights about your benefits programs. This includes benefits usage, costs and employee participation — all of which help you make informed decisions about how to improve your benefits package.

For example, you can identify unused benefits programs. You can remove it from your roster to save money or replace it with something more likely to appeal to your healthcare workers. 

6. Mobile accessibility

Having mobile access is a useful feature for staff who aren’t always working in your main location, like community nurses or care workers who provide in-home support. If they’re on the road and they want to request a vacation day, it’s helpful to have this feature accessible from any location with a mobile app or a mobile-friendly website.

7. Integrations

Integrations help you streamline your entire HR workflow with your benefits administration system. Depending on your software, you can integrate talent acquisition, employee onboarding, payroll management, shift scheduling and more. 

Not only does this help you optimize your HR efforts, but it also ensures consistency across all your data and processes.  

8. Cost management

Cost management features allow you to monitor and control the expenses associated with employee benefits. You can analyze how much you pay for employee benefits and identify ways to reduce costs. 

These features also help with budgeting, forecasting and optimizing benefit plans to align with your financial goals. 

9. Documentation management

Document management is important for managing your benefits effectively. They contain crucial information about your packages and confidential employee information. For example, benefit plan summaries, compliance records, medical insurance policies and employee communications. 

Having a system that contains and protects all of this documentation in one location makes it easier to securely track and manage these documents. 

Clarify your budget

Make the search process easier by starting with a clear budget. It’ll save you time from scrolling through platforms outside your spending cap, and give you a realistic perspective of which platforms you can afford.

Compare your budget with your ideal features and you narrow down your options to find platforms that suit the needs of your healthcare facility. 

Free platforms are available, but you might face hurdles when using them. They’re often gated, providing limited features. If you want access to the entire platform, you usually have to upgrade to a paid plan. 

Free software can also be more complicated to use. It’s often not intuitive, making it difficult to manage your benefits efficiently. On the other hand, a comprehensive benefits administration platform will provide a simple yet easy-to-use interface. 

How to implement new benefits administration system

When implementing a benefits administration system, the exact steps vary depending on the platform you use. However, there are some best practices you can follow to make the process easier. 

Create a plan for launching the new system

A solid plan will help you visualize the steps you need to launch the new system as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Here are the important areas to consider:

Launch timeline. When will you start using the new software? When are you aiming for it to be live for employees? Do you have milestones to hit along the way? Answer these

Data migration. Think about the practicalities of adding all your benefit data into a new system. If you’re moving from an existing platform, how will you migrate your benefits data into the new system? If you’re not moving from an existing platform, how will you consolidate all your data into the new software? 

Post-implementation support. What will you do to ensure ongoing support and assistance for users of the system? How will you answer user questions and address any issues? Put a plan in place to deal with post-implementation support for colleagues and employees.

Provide user training

Ensure everyone feels confident using the new system by providing user training. This will encourage people to use the system and navigate it effectively. 

The platform you use may already provide online training on using the system. Empeon, for example, has live training request forms you can complete to arrange a training session, webinars, ebooks and a support center with video tutorials and documentation

If the system doesn’t offer training, you may need to allocate the responsibility to someone in the healthcare organization, like the head of HR. They’ll need to familiarize themselves with the software and potentially book a call with the software provider to better understand how it works. Then, they’ll host a training session for everyone to understand how to use the platform. 

Set goals to measure success

Set goals and objectives to measure the software’s success. This will help you track how effective the system is for your business. 

Here are some tips for creating effective goals: 

The goal-setting framework (which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic and Timely) helps you create clear and achievable goals for your benefits administration software. An example could be: “Automate the enrollment process to reduce enrollment time by 20% within the next quarter.”

Milestones allow you to track progress in real time, making sure you’re on schedule to reach your SMART goal. If you’re not, you can make a fast and informed decision on ways to get back on track. An example milestone could be: “Reduce enrollment time by 10% halfway through the next quarter.”

Monitor and evaluate

After launching the new system, continuously monitor its performance to ensure it works well for your healthcare workforce. This means constantly tracking your goals, milestones and KPIs to assess the system’s success. 

You can also talk to employees about their experience to identify areas of improvement. If there are specific features they’d prefer or different processes for managing their benefits, you can consider this. 

You can continually update and improve the system based on user feedback and the changing needs of your benefits admin management. 

Manage your benefits, payroll and HR with Empeon

A benefits administration software solution is a valuable tool for any business. It removes the need for manual updates, streamlines your processes, saves time and provides insights into key benefit data. Plus, it gives employees control of their benefits, removing the need for HR’s involvement at every step. 

Get in touch with one of our industry experts to learn more about managing employee benefits and other HR best practices. 

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