New benefits analytics toolsgive managers real-time data to showcase which benefits are beingutilized and by which employee segment.

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Today's candidate-driven market requires youremployer-clients to work even harder to attract, engage and retainthe talent that will allow them to compete in their fields.Thankfully, technology has transformed a substantial part of howemployers and their candidates interact, from recruiting to hiringto onboarding. While employee benefits are often the second mostvalued job offer criteria, few employers are tapping into the powerof technology to optimize their benefits offerings in a way thatattracts and engages top talent.

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Related: Data analytics offers a peek behind the curtain inemployee benefits plans

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There are specific ways technology can transform benefits to theadvantage of both the employee and the employer. First, brokers andbenefits managers are increasingly privy to critical data thatallows them to develop employee benefits packages that cater to theunique needs of their workforce. It is also enabling employers toadminister and personalize benefits in ways that improveengagement. Finally, technology now allows employers to makebenefits flexible, catering to the needs of individualemployees.

Administering benefits

Benefits managers can now lean on technology to shift from atask orientation to one that is more strategic. Automated dataexchange allows administrators to reduce repetitive tasks that areoften both time-consuming and error-prone. Thanks to technology,all benefits activity can be consolidated into online hubs thatintegrate to help eliminate manual processes. This shift ultimatelyallows benefits managers to focus on more strategic priorities.

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Even more, new benefits analytics tools give managers real-timedata to showcase which benefits are being utilized and by whichemployee segment. This data can help HR and benefits advisorsdetermine future offerings and also assist with developing newbenefits for different generational needs. With these analytics,employers are able to offer employees and candidates the benefitsthey value most.

Personalizing benefits

Brokers and benefits managers are always looking for ways toeducate employees about the many available benefits options.Technology-driven personalization can help. Online benefitscommunication tools also allow benefits managers to personalizecommunications based on the needs of individual employees. Forexample, if an employee enrolls in a high deductible health plan,online communication tools can be configured to send the employee apersonalized email about the pros of enrolling in a HSA plan. Whenemployees understand how a particular benefit will affect themindividually, they are more likely to utilize the benefit.

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This is absolutely true when it comes to open enrollmentperiods. Employees often feel overwhelmed when enrolling in a newhealth plan, so when employers personalize the process with aguided, online enrollment experience tailored to each employeebased on their unique preferences, employees feel more confidentabout their choices.

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For instance, if a millennial employee is enrolling for thefirst time in his or her company's benefits, it can feel a bitdaunting. However, if a list of questions is provided to helpidentify their specific needs and then a package is recommendedthat aligns with their preferences, the employee walks away feelinggood about their choices. Personalization is opening up doors fornew levels of engagement in employee benefits, and companies thatprovide a better employee experience will continue to recruit,engage and retain top talent.

Transforming benefits

It's true that employees are in the driver's seat of theircareers with today's unemployment rate. It's also true that neverbefore have there been more diverse ages and backgroundsco-existing in the workforce. The pressure is on to engage theworkforce while also catering to distinctly different needs andpriorities.

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Leading-edge employers are enabling flexibility in theirbenefits to meet both challenges. Technology has transformedbenefits from a static offering to a dynamic one, putting theemployee in charge of when and how to apply them. If, for instance,an employee is struggling with paying down their student loan debt,they can transfer the value of their unused paid time off (PTO) tothis specific need. Employees can also choose to use the value oftheir unused PTO to fund a vacation, cover an emergency expense,donate to a charity of their choice, or even transfer vacation timeto a coworker in need. It's a win-win for employees and employers.Employees finally have the power over their earned benefit andemployers gain more satisfied workers.

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Technology is shaping the benefits industry in ways unheard ofjust five years ago. Brokers and employers have the ability to usetechnology in ways that redefine how benefits are administered andpersonalized for the good of the employer and employee. Thebenefits industry is constantly evolving thanks to technology, andcompanies that unlock the impact technology is making on benefitswill more readily win the war for today's talent.

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Rob Whalen is founder and CEO of PTO Exchange,the world's only patented flexible benefits platform.

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