Personal computers, PDA’s, Cell Phones, E-Mail – they have all become an integral part today’s business world. Once considered extravagances, these technologies have become today’s mission-critical business essentials. It’s hard to imagine being able to do business today without these enabling technologies. But there is an often overlooked technology that can also add to your company’s efficiency, improve employee morale and contribute to your bottom line – Benefits Technology.

The simplest solution might be an Employee Benefits Center™ (web portal) where companies can post their employee handbooks, company information such as holidays, meetings and events calendars, general benefits information and links to provider directories and provider web sites, as well as a library of benefit enrollment forms. The beauty of this solution is that all this information is available 24/7/365, for employees and their families to access any time they wish from any computer with Internet access.

At the other end of the spectrum of benefits technology are web-based HR Management and Employee Enrollment systems such as benefitsCONNECT™, featuring a comprehensive HR management suite and on-line employee self-service. These systems put your company’s entire Human Resources department on-line with a sophisticated, web-based database built specifically for HR Management and benefits.

Here are some of the critical things to look for in such a system:

  • Is the system provided by a reliable source, or is it someone’s home-brewed system?
  • Does it offer multiple layers of access to HR personnel? You may not want every HR professional to have unlimited access to all HR information.
  • Does it use secure, on-line technology?
  • What happens if their server goes down? Is there a server redundancy plan?
  • Is the system fully compliant with HIPAA and other government privacy and security regulations?
  • Is the system a “captive” one, provided by a single benefit provider, or is it an independent platform provided by an independent benefits broker? If it’s “captive”, you may be locking your company into using only their products long-term, or you may have to endure the pain of starting all over again with another system. For the absolute best of both worlds, select an independent benefits broker who can provide an independent HR Management technology platform. A good broker will earn their keep by scouring the marketplace to provide your company with the best products and services to meet your benefits strategy, and their HR Management technology platform should support whatever benefit providers, products and services you choose. A good HR Benefits technology platform should make your choice of benefit providers seamless and completely transparent to its users.
  • Does your benefits broker use the HR Benefits Technology solution themselves in their own office, for their own employees? Do they know what makes the system “tick”? Do they know how to set the system up and support the system so that it will deliver the best solution for your business, or is “their” solution provided and serviced by a third party?
  • Be wary of “Free” offers or pricing that seems too good to be true. Any system worth its salt, that you can depend upon and that will go the distance with your firm, will have a reasonable cost associated with it.

The right Benefits Broker, complemented by an independent HR Benefits Technology system, can boost the productivity of your HR department, improve employee benefits communication and thereby employee moral, and most importantly, improve your bottom line, too.

Neal J. Robin is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Pappas Financial, a full-service financial services firm located in Farmington Hills, where his responsibilities include business strategic planning and directing IT operations.

This article appeared in Detroit’s CORP! Magazine