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Employers are Accelerating Adoption of Benefits Technology to Meet the Needs of Tomorrow’s Workplace

But Guardian study finds many employers still need help developing a digital benefits strategy

Since 2012, investors have steered more than $14 billion into human capital management (HCM) software and platforms. A new study by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian) confirms that human resources technology is top of mind for many employers seeking greater efficiencies and workforce engagement. The study reveals most employers have increased their spending on benefits-related technology in the past five years, with approximately 50 percent expecting further increases in the next three years. The latest set of findings come from The Fifth Annual Guardian Workplace Benefits StudySM, Game-Changer: The Digitalization of Employee Benefits Delivery.

Workplace demographic shifts, particularly millennials, whose share of the workforce continues to expand, are influencing how employers manage human resources and employee benefit functions. Millennials prefer a more intuitive, personalized and engaging benefits experience from their companies. The study finds employers are beginning to improve the end-to-end user experience with 75 percent focused on improving effectiveness of self-service platforms, compared to 61 percent in 2014. When asked about helping employees make better benefits solutions, 73 percent of employers said this was “highly important” compared to 47 percent in 2014.

“Our lives increasingly revolve around new technologies and digitalization, and this study confirms that benefits technology is reshaping how employers think about their benefits strategy,” said Marc Costantini, executive vice president, Commercial and Government Markets, at Guardian. “A multi-generational workforce along with mounting pressures on employers to contain costs, simplify their benefits, and stay compliant are prompting employers to make this a priority.”

Benefits Technology is a Strategic Imperative
C-suite executives are also turning their focus on digital HCM functions for cost-savings and more efficient strategies. More than 40 percent of all employers say that expanding their use of technology will be among their top benefit strategies in the next five years.

The rise of SaaS models has enabled businesses of all sizes to gain more access to affordable cloud-based applications for handling HCM. The study finds one-third of smaller businesses (i.e. 5 to 24 employees) plan to introduce changes by 2020.

Employers Need Help Navigating their Options
The study also reinforced that most employers need expert advice when it comes to benefits technology options. The wide range of selections creates confusion about which vendor to go with and what capabilities will best fit their needs. This was prevalent among small companies (i.e. 5 to 24 employees) with nearly 40 percent saying that developing a benefits technology strategy is a significant challenge. However, for employers who use brokers, two in five indicate they have not spoken to a broker about their benefit technology needs.

Other key findings in the study include:

Three in four millennials wish it were easier to learn about and access their workplace benefits
Forty two percent of young millennials use artificial intelligence to find answers for benefits of health-related questions compared to 26 percent of baby boomers
Fifty eight percent of employers say managing their employee benefits has become increasingly complex – up from 52 percent in 2015
Sixty seven percent of highly digital employers said enrolling employees is “very efficient” compared to 44 percent of paper-based employers
For more information about Guardian’s workplace benefits or to view a copy of the study, please visit: guardiananytime.com

Methodology
The Fifth Annual Workplace Benefits Study was fielded in the Spring of 2017 and consisted of two online surveys: one among 2,000 benefits decision-makers (employers) and another among 1,700 working Americans (employees), allowing us to explore benefits issues from both perspectives.