Benefits enrollment can be a complex and overwhelming process for both the employer and the employee, with plenty of choices and lots of paperwork. Or at least it used to be.

Benefits enrollment has become much easier with online systems that guide employers and employees through registration…

  • During open enrollment, employees can go online at their leisure to review options and make selections.
  • Employee information lives in a single database that’s easy for employees and HR personnel to access.
  • HR personnel don’t have to do data entry, and they don’t have to decipher poor handwriting, which makes for more accurate records and easier benefits enrollment.
  • Online systems can accommodate a wide range of national insurance carriers and the products and services they offer regionally.
  • Some online systems integrate with payroll software.
  • Online systems make it easy to adjust information for current employees (e.g., if they get married or have a child).

An open enrollment platform is a technology that can transform human resource operations from “looking like the registry of motor vehicles to looking like Netflix,” says David O’Connell, principal analyst at Nucleus Research Inc. in Boston.

Most large employers [contracted] benefits administration a long time ago; as technology improved, providers began using software and the Internet to automate open enrollment and other benefits-related processes. These [contracting] agreements are typically large, multiyear deals that include services such as call center support and that are feasible mainly for employers with thousands of workers.

Payroll processors and other vendors now offer open enrollment solutions for smaller companies, providing some of the benefits of automation that large employers gain from [contracting].

“This whole vendor segment is emerging,” says Jamie Hawkins, president of Benefit Technology Resources LLC, a consulting firm in Tampa, Fla., that helps small and medium-sized employers choose benefits platforms.

Society for Human Resource Management