Self-service Employee Benefit Platforms

7 MIN READEditorial Policy

We’re on tablets, smartphones, and computers for a large part of each day. Information is instantly available when we need it, thanks to easily searchable websites, databases, and online guides. In addition to their non-work online interests, employees have come to expect that they’ll be able to access information online for most everything including their workplace benefits programs.

What do your employees want?

According to a 2015 LIMRA study, “68 percent of employees want to enroll in their benefits online or electronically, and only 16 percent want paper enrollment forms.” By comparison, the same study found that only 38 percent of employers who were surveyed “think that their employees want to use a computer to enroll” in benefits plans. Unfortunately, these employers are missing an important opportunity to satisfy employees by providing online, easy-to-use systems for their benefits programs.


Support employee decision-making and action (increase participation!)

When it comes to education and information that helps employees make benefits-related choices to satisfy their needs and goals, paper is no comparison for what digital options offer. With employee self-service solutions, employees have access to a wealth of information and can make decisions based on their individual requirements. Rather than filling out a paper form, putting a stamp on it, mailing it to the benefits provider, and waiting for it to be processed, employees can take immediate action based on their goals and changing needs. For example, with online access to their 401(k) plan, employees can change their investment selections or salary deferral rates, and as in the case with Human Interest, employees can plan for their futures with built-in investment advising. With access to health care plan benefits online, employees can manage their spending on prescriptions and procedures, and make informed decisions about coverage selections based on their health needs.

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Reduce the time spent on benefits administration

Indeed, your employees will appreciate having these self-service platforms, which in turn could lead to improved levels of job satisfaction. But there’s also a benefit for your business and for the efficiency of your time (or your HR department’s time). Once you’ve implemented employee self-service systems, these online platforms will reduce the amount of administrative effort required to manage benefits. When you’re using a paper system, the process of administering benefits may require at least a full-time employee to handle the paperwork, employee questions, and interaction with the plan provider.

Watch out for pain points: A few cons to be aware of

While an employee self-service option has many benefits, without some thought and care you might run into some issues. The Society for Human Resource Management identified some potential cons for online platforms, including:

  • Decreased personal interaction with employees

  • Limited vendor choices that provide employee self-service benefits platforms

  • Potential security issues related to confidential information

  • Time and resources required to implement

  • Employee hesitancy (or limited access) to use automated system

But don’t let these potential issues scare you. With planning, communication, and the selection of the right system, employers can proactively address most, if not all, of these problems before they happen.

Recommended self-serve employee benefits software

When it comes to the benefits plans you offer, look for the right self-service tools to support employee decision-making and action. A shiny, new system will always look amazing in a demo. Don’t be hasty about your selection: be sure to examine employee self-service platform options carefully. Evaluate that they include all the functionality you require, are easy for employees to use, and are accessible from computers as well as mobile devices. Not sure where to start? Here are some platforms (with employee self-service options) that specialize in supporting small to mid-sized businesses:

  • Zenefits offers integrated solutions that support employee self-service including benefits, time, and payroll.  

  • KinHR automates many administrative HR tasks (onboarding, employee records, performance management, time off tracking) for employers, while also providing employee self-service options.

  • BambooHR provides HR-focused applications that integrate with other systems, such as payroll, to allow employees access to relevant data via one online solution.  

  • Human Interest delivers an employee self-service option so that employees can easily manage everything about their 401k; employees can change investment selections, update salary deferral rates, and access built-in investment advising, all in one solution.

Bottom line: be sure that any online platforms you implement will be able to support your needs and growth for the next three to five years. The goal is not just to implement a self-service system; it’s critical to find the right system that makes it easy for employees and employers to get the most out of their benefits plans. By making it easy for employees to understand and make the most of the benefits you offer, a self-service option will increase employees’ use of – and appreciation for—the benefits you provide.

If you’re looking for a great 401(k) for your employees, click here to request more information about Human Interest.

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We believe that everyone deserves access to a secure financial future, which is why we make it easy to provide a 401(k) to your employees. Human Interest offers a low-cost 401(k) with automated administration, built-in investment education, and integration with leading payroll providers.

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