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The Employee Benefits Industry Where Technology Fails

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Technology is sexy. I can sell. Also, in the benefits industry, the venture attracts significant investment from his capital.

Many companies have sprung up over the past decade, promising a panacea of ​​ease and simplicity when running benefits, HR, and payroll programs.

We partly agree with their intent to make employee benefits easier through software and automation. It’s the value of an in-service expert that guides the decisions you need to make before you hit the button.

The employee benefits industry has changed over the past decade with the introduction of technology as a way to onboard and manage employees and their benefits. Larger employers were already doing this, but to smaller employers (most employers here in the North Bay), it was a strange one. It was a blessing and a curse.

It’s a blessing because it forced an industry (employee benefits brokers) to adopt or die technology that has barely changed. Smaller employers have also become happy with the idea of ​​using technology to more effectively manage their employees and benefits programs.

The curse arose because it spawned a slew of benefits companies focused solely on technology, posing as proper employee benefits brokers to sell the ease of use of technology. This oversimplified what benefits brokers do and tried to redefine the job. The idea ultimately failed and these people had to regroup.

As mentioned above, forcing brokers and employers to adopt technology has been a good thing, but the trick is finding the right balance of usage. The use of technology in the benefits industry cannot be all or nothing.

don’t sell illusions

In our experience, salespeople in tech-only organizations are just salespeople.

Their job is to get you to say yes no matter what. We have seen employers blinded by these services and moving to “solutions” quickly discover that the services offered by traditional benefits brokers are not built into a technology-first model.

There have been cases where the new ‘broker’ did not handle plan management the way the client thought it would, handle plan renewals, or advise on the benefits program and its long-term plans.

For example, the Affordable Care Act has completed a four-year rollout, health care plan designs have changed, employers’ strategies have changed, and employee wants and needs have changed dramatically recently. These issues cannot be fully addressed by automation. Properly interpreting and applying these new rules and changes requires extensive industry experience and expertise that only humans can bring. More importantly, legally. Does your technology-driven insurer offer this? Make sure they do.

The reality of the promise of technology solutions

A client recently came to us after working with a “technology broker”.

They cited customer service issues and poor access to reporting data and payroll deduction information as the primary reasons for the move. They also later discovered that they had not received market information other than updates and had not been consulted on benefits program strategy, a key tool for maximizing benefits utilization, efficiency and savings. Did.

Another client decided to move to a technology-first solution. Employers were thrilled when Single His Sign On was promised his solution to electronically manage the entire benefits program and handle new employee onboarding and online enrollment into the benefits program.

They came back to us after 3 months. The solution they migrated to offered an online system that allowed employees to select certain benefits, but it didn’t help clients renew their plans or properly handle registration information. did.

My employer was left in complete darkness for over a month as the system was said to be connected in real time to the insurance company, but that was not the case. Of course, this caused big problems for new recruits. Because they had chosen a plan and thought they were covered, but the data wasn’t being transferred to their insurance company.

We strongly advocate the use of technology wherever possible to streamline the benefits process.

We know technology can have a huge positive impact and facilitate many positive things. But what makes technology shine is the right combination of technology and experience (in any industry).

It is the people behind the technology that guide it, tune it, and customize it to each company’s needs. Employers are best served by broker-first firms rather than technology-first ones.