With today's technology, benefitmanagers can pull metrics on how employees are interacting withtheir communications and identify the natural path where employeesare looking for information. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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It is an age-old conundrum for benefits managers—managingescalating health care costs while maintainingvalue for their employees. More and more benefits managers rely onvoluntary benefits to fill important insurancegaps and provide essential services due to cuts in traditionalbenefits programs.

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While the benefits department can create an attractive, holistic benefits program, that is only onepiece of the puzzle. Employees need to know the what, why and how.Enter advanced technology! Using technology is the key to measuringthe efficacy of the benefits program— communicating effectively,ease of enrollment and worry-free administration.

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Communications

As the availability of communication technology grows, benefitmanagers can target focused benefit information to an individual,eliminating unnecessary information and providing valuableresources that are most beneficial to the individual. It goeswithout saying, but when it comes to benefits, there is noone-size-fits-all approach. What may be appealing to an employeewho recently graduated may not appeal to a senior-level employeewho is nearing retirement. For example, employees with youngchildren may be especially interested in accident insurance, whilepet owners might look to pet insurance to help offset the costs ofwell visits and routine care.

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Related: Millennials driving employer adoption of benefitstech

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Today's consumers use multiple platforms (social, email, blogs,etc.) and devices (from desktops, to tablets, to smartphones), socommunicate with your employees on their terms. Are yourcommunications in a format that employees can easily share theinformation with his or her significant other? Reducing the jargonthat typically accompanies benefit communication, enhancingrelevancy, and reaching the employee where and when they want toreceive information allows him or her to focus on the significantvalue of these voluntary benefit programs. Communications areconstantly morphing, so it will be interesting to see how theadvances in artificial intelligence will play out over the next fewyears.

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With today's technology, benefit managers can pull metrics onhow employees are interacting with their communications and alsohelp identify the natural path where employees are looking forinformation. By determining where employees expect to receivecommunications, employers can ensure that their workforce is seeingthe information that is most pertinent to them.

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Enrollment medium

So, you have implemented an effective communications campaign,the next technology opportunity is the enrollment medium. Foryears, enrollment in voluntary benefits could be likened to theJurassic age…slow and cumbersome. Much like the way core benefitplans were enrolled during the disco era: paper application,directly with an enroller, etc. Now, most benefits can be enrolledonline and allow you as the benefit manager to track youremployees' progress through enrollment.

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Benefits managers can identify where employees may haveabandoned the enrollment process. Utilizing this technology,benefits managers can retarget these employees with a personalizedmessage, advising them what percent of the enrollment they'vecompleted; how much time they have left to enroll; and providesupport from customer service representatives.

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Online enrollment technology also allows for a simplifiedenrollment experience by pre-populating certain required datafields and auto selecting the plan design they are most likely toselect given their demographics.

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Administration

One road block of voluntary benefits is the additional payrollslots for each new voluntary benefit. Payroll managers cling topayroll slots like gold. Employers know how difficult, complicatedand costly it is to get payroll slots from their payrolladministration systems and as the number of voluntary benefitsincreases, managing these benefits become difficult and expensive.Modern technology allows voluntary benefit outsourcers to offerconsolidated payroll slots, giving employers the flexibility toconsider multiple voluntary benefit solutions without the anxietybuilding the infrastructure to support it.

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With diverse offers, ease of administration and moderncommunication technology, voluntary benefits are worth consideringand should be an integral part of total rewards package.


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Peter Marcia is CEO of YouDecide.

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