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Finding the Balance between Human and High-Tech

In the past, managing HR benefits meant filing endless paperwork, keeping up with stressful deadlines and keeping up with constantly changing regulations.

However, technology is starting to make life a little easier for HR professionals. New HR automation software automates much of the administrative work involved in all things HR-related.
While there is a lot you can do with HR automation software, there are still some tasks that may be best handled personally. As you begin to research and incorporate software into your HR management strategy, it’s important to understand both its advantages and its limitations.

HR Automation Software

Today, there are programs available that can manage every aspect of benefits administration. For example, Hodges-Mace* offers enrollment software that enables employees to sign up for their health insurance plan themselves. The program then automatically handles all the enrollment paperwork, manages the IRS reporting requirements, contacts employees with benefit information and determines whether employees are eligible to participate in your benefits plans. The program also keeps track of regulations to make sure that you stay compliant with laws such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and COBRA.

When Automation Makes Sense

Automation can help handle the administrative side of HR more efficiently and effectively. It makes sense to automate routine, predictable tasks such as:

  • Managing annual enrollments
  • Collecting and filing paperwork for employees
  • Tracking employee eligibility for different benefits

Additionally, HR software gives your employees a way to manage and update their benefits on their own.

Automation software can also help you keep up with compliance requirements. There are so many laws to keep up with, especially with the new ACA regulations, that every HR department needs some help to stay on track. The developers of HR programs make it their full-time job to monitor new laws and guidelines so you don’t have to.

Automation software can also help you collect information that you can use to improve your benefits plans and adjust your benefits strategies. For example, you can use HR software to schedule regular online surveys and manage employee feedback. At the same time, your HR automation software will be keeping track of important data, such as benefit participation rates.

Automation technology will continue getting better, so it’s worth keeping an open mind and thinking creatively about what other tasks you might automate in the future.

The Limits of HR Automation

Some parts of the benefits process are too important to fully automate. Here are some of those key parts that are best handled with a personal touch.

It is important to pay personal attention to benefits payments, even if you schedule automatic payments. That way, you can still recover the necessary information and process the payment if something goes wrong and the automatic payment doesn’t go through.

Even if your software offers computer-based training, employees might need some additional supports to understand everything. You should still hold in-person seminars to explain what is offered in your benefits package and to give employees an opportunity to ask questions. The more your employees understand about their benefits package, the better they’ll be able to use their plan.

Informational seminars also present a great opportunity to teach your employees about how they can help control their own out-of-pocket costs. For example, you may want to highlight the importance of taking advantage of the preventive services offered as part of your dental plan at low to no out-of-pocket costs.

When you onboard employees, you should also go over your benefits package with them in person, even if most or all of the administrative work will be done online. This provides your new employees with a warm welcome and lets them know that there’s an actual person they can go to if they have questions.

The Bottom Line

HR automation software can be a valuable investment, provided you put it to the best use. By keeping these pointers in mind, you can streamline your benefits administration process without losing your personal touch.

*Highmark is providing an example of an program that is available to employers. Highmark is not endorsing the described program nor suggesting that it will meet the needs of any employer. You are encouraged to review available programs and software to determine whether any meet your needs and objectives.