Ask Anita: How Do Benefits Administration Mistakes Impact Employees?

I like to think of the employee experience like a house. The walls, doors, and roof are like the basic employment agreement, while compensation and benefits are the power and utilities. Employees expect payroll, benefits, and deductions to be delivered without a hitch, just like we expect the light to turn on when we flip the switch.

However, much like a power outage, when there are problems with your people’s pay or benefits, it’s a crisis that disrupts their lives and causes a lot of stress. Sure, the house is still standing—employees still have their jobs; you’re still in business—but those aspects of the employee experience are meaningless if you as the employer can’t keep the lights on!

Employees depend on effective benefits administration for their fundamental needs, so it’s absolutely critical for HR to get it right.

Why Employee Benefits Are Important

I was once an HR team of one. I’ve been there with the paper forms and Excel spreadsheets, and none of them operate really well together. I couldn’t keep up with entering data, answering questions, sending deadline reminders, or coordinating with carriers. I couldn’t show up to the employee as calm, cool, and collected. My default setting was “Frazzled!”

Like many HR and benefits admins with the best of intentions, I made mistakes. Despite my best efforts, someone missed the deadline or a data-entry error snuck through.

Because benefits are so important, they’re unavoidably personal. You can’t afford to get it wrong.

Early in my career, an employee called me from the doctor's office, upset and wanting to know why they didn’t have the benefits coverage they signed up for. In that moment, especially in an emergency situation, it's painful! You take on all that emotion, you're really frustrated, and you just feel horribly embarrassed.

Then, as you interact with employees afterward, you wonder if they’re thinking, “Oh, you say you care about us as people, but you can't get our deductions right and pay right, which we depend on!”

When we or someone else makes a mistake, it’s important to Assume the Best, which is a BambooHR value that I love. When I miss something in a spreadsheet, when I get the deductions or plan wrong, it's not intentional or with malice. Yet so many of us still use manual paper or spreadsheets for employee benefits enrollment, which is where these mistakes happen! We’re not setting ourselves up for success.

Your candidates, new hires, and employees simply expect and deserve a worry-free experience when tapping into their benefits or receiving their paychecks. And with benefits typically being the second highest cost for an organization after payroll, it’s an investment that deserves faster, smarter, and better employee benefits services and processes.

The Importance of Benefits Administration and Payroll Working Together

When accuracy is the bottom-line expectation, it’s easy to take it for granted. But when manual processes are all you have, your workload snowballs, then errors go up, which only gets worse as your company grows. BambooHR is on a mission to set you free from all that!

Having one system of record, one place to administer benefits and do payroll together creates synergy. Employee data flows into benefits, which flows into payroll, which flows into your employees’ bank accounts. Nothing is siloed and everything works together to help you create a more cohesive experience for everyone.

When benefits administration and payroll talk to each other, it creates massive time savings across the platform because you only have to enter data once. The reward is accuracy—and a wonderful, company-wide boost in confidence in you and your processes.

Make benefits a breeze all year ‘round.

See how quick and easy benefits elections can be when you do it all in BambooHR.

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Automation and Workflows Improve the Employee Benefits Experience

We talked about what happens when you get benefits administration wrong. But ‌what happens when you get it right, or even perfect? Usually, nothing. It’s a thankless job. Which is why I am so grateful BambooHR is adding this crucial function to our product offering. We see you, benefits admins! I know the time savings and improved accuracy is going to make such a difference in your work.

BambooHR Takes Care of the Basics so You Can Focus on the Big Picture

When it comes to supporting and defining the employee experience, I can’t say enough about the value of having an all-in-one tool like BambooHR. Going back to the house analogy, BambooHR brings together all the moving parts that make a house more than just a way to get out of the rain.

Instead of a single-solution software, with BambooHR, everything works together to support the employee from every angle. This includes freeing HR from manual processes so they can show up for employees whose needs require additional support and reassurance, especially during high-stakes transactions like open enrollment.

When benefits, payroll, and employee data all work together, it prevents so many problems, simplifying a process that’s normally a big hairy mess. Specifically, Benefits Administration helps you check off tasks that would’ve previously eaten up all your time, including:

Communicate benefits packages and plans to employees year-round

Communication about benefits just gets simpler and more effective when you keep all the info and related tasks in one place. BambooHR may already be where your employees go to clock in and out, request time-off, track goals—all the things we enable with employee self-service. It’s the same with open enrollment, not to mention benefits communication throughout the year. Employees can review all of their benefits options and make their selections right in their profile. Then all that info is still available in their records for them to reference later, keeping the value you offer through your benefits package clear and easily accessible year-round.

Automate workflows from admin to employee

Balls don’t get dropped in BambooHR—they roll! That’s what automation will do for you. Completing one task triggers another, and when you’re one benefits admin coordinating with dozens or hundreds of employees, automated workflows are such a relief. For example, as your employees make and submit their selections, you’ll be alerted to make the approvals, keeping the benefits ball rolling.

Calculate rates and payroll deductions with built-in calculators

Built-in rate calculators get rid of a lot of the back-and-forth that happens when you’re trying to kick off your benefits enrollment. As employees make their selections in BambooHR, they can see those calculations happening right in front of them. Enabling this kind of cost transparency is key to everyone knowing exactly what they can count on, and really makes for a great experience for everyone.


Educate employees on what they did (and did not) select

As employees make their selections in BambooHR, it’s very clear what they’re signing up for, what they’re waiving, and what deductions to expect. This not only limits the amount of questions coming back to you during the whole process, but it keeps a clear record for employees to refer to as their benefits needs evolve over time. They can walk away feeling super confident that they made their selections correctly and on time, and they can just feel excited about the benefits they’re going to receive.

Deliver selections to benefits carriers via seamless integration

As we continue to invest in automation and integrations with our carrier connections, you can feel confident your employees’ elections are being received by your benefits providers exactly as they were input. And you can feel excited about the hours of time you’re saving by automating this crucial stage of the process.

Measure completion with data and reporting

As great as your first open enrollment with BambooHR will be, your second can be even better with reporting and analytics. The ability to track and measure employee elections in easy-to-share charts will facilitate strategic decisions about your benefits offering. What’s working and what isn’t? What’s being waived and what’s being raved about? All the insights, tools, and info are right here.

Friends in HR, you’ve got this! I see all the hard work you’re doing to create smooth employee experiences. And while you might not get the thanks or high-fives of other teams, your work matters and creates confidence in the business. Best of luck to you during open enrollment this year!