Simple. Intuitive. Hassle-free. Cost-saving. These are words you don’t hear often from employers discussing their benefits and HR administration. Juggling the requirements of employee benefits, hiring, training, workers’ compensation, payroll, COBRA, and HR information systems has been a growing challenge for employers for decades. And, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the seismic shift in the health insurance market, those challenges are getting even more complex.

The result? Employers are demanding better solutions.

HR outsourcing is nothing new, and “value-added” giveaways from benefits brokers have been evolving for years. But now, a number of forward-thinking brokers across the country have taken this technology arms race to a new level – and the game is changing fast.

Integrated benefits + HR = outsourcing on steroids.

Two heads are better than one? Not so when it comes to benefits and HR administration. In fact, dealing with them separately has been a formula for confusion, compliance nightmares, and cost overruns. Small and medium-sized businesses want a simpler solution, and the convergence of benefits administration and HR administration is providing it.

Cutting edge brokers and payroll companies are partnering to offer technology and business services that traditional insurance brokers have neglected. And as HRWorld reports, employers are reaping the benefits in cost savings as well as convenience. It’s a game-changer for employers and the insurance industry alike.

Below are four of the hottest trends to keep an eye on for 2015 and beyond:

  • One-stop solutions: Employers are no longer satisfied with merely getting an insurance policy from their benefits brokers – and paying a hefty commission. They want a full service HR support solution that combines benefits, payroll, and other HR functions with a single vendor.
  • Self Service: Providing employees access to their own HR information and allowing them to make their own benefit changes, has numerous benefits. It helps boost employee morale, maintain more accurate data, reduce time-consuming inquiries to HR staff, and lower costs. Ideally, employees should have access to HR applications through both their desktops and their mobile devices. A study by ADP indicates 37 percent of registered mobile users use their smartphones to view payroll information.
  • Simplicity: Employers are desperate for the simplicity, convenience, and cost savings of a single-platform solution with a single point of entry to track all of their HR data and maintain regulatory compliance. The convergence of benefits and HR administration processes is delivering. By adopting a workflow with one-point of entry to populate all HR silos, employers can dramatically reduce errors and the time spent exporting and importing data between systems.
  • Outsourcing. Employers are increasingly seeing the benefits of outsourcing HR functions. In fact, according to Forbes, 50 percent of large companies outsource at least part of the HR functions. The most compelling reason? Outsourcing frees them up to focus on their core business competencies. In addition, it often saves money, improves compliance and provides affordable access to more HR tools and technology.

It’s a brave new world for benefits and HR administration, and employers are increasingly realizing the value offered by these partnerships as opposed to traditional brokers’ PEPM (per-employee-per-month) commission-based services. And those employers that have jumped onboard can now definitively say their benefits and HR administration is simple, intuitive, hassle-free, and cost-saving.

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