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Streamlining benefits administration through technology

Modernising Benefits in Asia Pacific – Part 5

Health and Benefits
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By Jasmine Tan | August 26, 2020

Employers can create a benefits program that is aligned with the expectations of tomorrow’s workforce by embracing advanced technological solutions.

Two growing concerns will play a part in modernising benefits program administration. Employee data security is critical, and employers must take steps to address privacy concerns. At the same time, advances in digitisation and machine learning have created an expectation of greater efficiency and reduced manual interventions.

Additionally, employers are looking to enable employee personalisation of their benefits programs — recent research has found that close to 40% of organisations in Asia Pacific are looking to provide meaningful benefit options while reducing complexity1. This will necessitate efficient and streamlined back-end administration processes.

The need to simplify, while still providing a consumer-grade experience, is pushing organisations towards new solutions that can boost their administration through technology and automation.

The need to simplify, while still providing a consumer-grade experience, is pushing organisations towards new solutions.

This article is the fifth in a six-part series on modernising benefits using the framework of the Benefits Navigator, which provides a look into how employers can create a benefits program that is aligned with the expectations of tomorrow’s workforce.

The forces driving change

Employers have shown interest in leveraging flexibility and benefits choice as tools to attract and retain talent. Findings from our 2019/2020 Benefit Trends Survey show that employers understand that benefit programs have “evolved into a true attraction and retention tool”. A user-friendly and streamlined benefits administration process will be crucial to fulfilling this goal.

In addition, there’s a general drive towards adopting new technologies to improve productivity and efficiency; in Asia Pacific, 81% of organisations are now using automation to complete some tasks and processes. This is expected to grow to 92% in the next three years.2

81%
Organisations using automation to complete some tasks and processes

Finally, the advent of COVID-19 and the unprecedented impact it caused to business operations is another driver of change. A more agile work environment with employees working remotely and changing employee profiles (e.g. contingent workers) has caused employers to not only explore new ways of working but also re-examine their current HR processes.

Employee data considerations

The accumulation and consolidation of benefit utilisation data can potentially amass an enormous amount of information. This invaluable resource holds clues to the needs and preferences of the workforce, providing direction for creating and delivering a benefits package that is truly relevant to employees.

The accumulation and consolidation of benefit utilisation data can potentially amass an enormous amount of information.

However, this resource comes with its own challenges: recent cyberattacks on organisations have made it abundantly clear that the highest degree of care is needed in managing and using employees’ personal data. Personal information, insurance claims and medical data can be misused, so organisations should view privacy and the “right to be forgotten” as critical components in dealing with the administration of employee benefits information. Employers must give utmost attention to cyber hygiene practices, establish safeguards to protect individual rights to data privacy and comply with government data and privacy legislations.

Streamlining and automating benefits databases into one robust technological solution, rather than across a variety of tools can help: an integrated system grants HR managers greater control over who can access the information and cuts down on the number of people involved in processing employee data, thereby reducing the risk of a breach of data privacy.

Efficiency and experience gains

By leveraging a secure, integrated solution to support key processes, employers and employees stand to gain a more efficient and intuitive experience with benefits programs and systems.

For employers, automation can greatly improve accuracy, compliance, performance management and analytics. When implemented properly, organisations can also benefit from lowering operating costs or reallocating resources more efficiently, freeing up HR managers to devote more time to value-generating tasks, such as benefits review and optimisation.

When implemented properly, organisations can benefit from lowering operating costs or reallocating resources more efficiently.

For employees, an integrated system can help to provide a consumer-grade online experience, allowing them to take full advantage of their benefits program. This experience could include functions such as the ability to access their benefits program at any time, a simple interface for selecting or modifying selected benefits, real time visibility and modification of preferences and a reduction in paperwork.

Technology is changing – and will continue to change – how benefits are being administered and delivered, increasing efficiency and sophistication, improving compliance, generating better analytics and making it possible for HR to take a more active, strategic role.

To read more about how to streamline benefits administration and operations, please download the full PDF version of this article below.


References

1 Willis Towers Watson 2019/2020 Benefit Trends Survey – Asia Pacific

2 2019 Pathways to Digital Enablement Survey

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