New Year Checklist for HR and Benefits Pros

Let's get through our new year tasks and start 2020 off right!

Written by Lauren Fischer | January 8, 2020

For most employers, annual enrollment has come to a close (for now) and a new year has begun. And with a new year comes lots of changes. From budget changes, HR compliance updates, new health benefits and more, a new year is an opportune time to pause, review and reflect. (Not to mention staying atop of changes in your business as well as labor laws will help you stay competitive in the job market.) 

To make this task a little less overwhelming, we’ve put together an HR and benefits checklist to help you realign strategies and strengthen your workforce practices.

Let's get through our new year tasks and start 2020 off right! 

Open Enrollment - How Did it Go? 

Congrats! You've survived another annual enrollment. That means you have at least a few months before planning for next year, right? Not so fast. As an HR and benefits professional, you know that open enrollment season never truly ends. Rather, another cycle begins.

"Savvy, experienced employers are already working on the Annual Enrollment cycle for the 2021 plan year," says benefitexpress Account Executive, Liz Hill. "When you work in benefits, annual enrollment is a year-round activity even though the administrative work doesn’t start until the summer."

So, instead of taking a "break" from annual enrollment, use this time to execute a post-open enrollment evaluation to help you plan for the next cycle – including surveying your most important groups:

  • Your employees  
  • Your internal stakeholders
  • Your benefits broker  
  • Your benefits technology partner 
Good Read: 5 Post-Open Enrollment Questions to Ask Employees

Data Integrity 

Data integrity is important to all aspects of business, but especially in human resources organizations. When HRIS systems data is inaccurate, it can affect employees’ paychecks, salary reviews, training and development, productivity tracking, and even a company's bottom line. That said, it's important to audit your data across all systems at the start of a new year to ensure accuracy. 

"The most integral part of starting the new year off on the right foot is data integrity," says benefitexpress Client Delivery Manager Shannon Hernandez. "For example, employers should audit the 2020 elections captured in their enrollment platform against what is loaded in their payroll system. That way, the new year is beginning with the assurance that all systems match." 

Benefits Administration

The start of a new year is the perfect time to reflect on the relationship with your benefits administration provider. Is the technology up to par? What types of services are offered in addition to the platform itself? Is your benefits administration platform user-friendly across all devices? And, most importantly, are you and your employees receiving the support needed to perform tasks, enroll in benefits and understand benefits offerings? 

While advanced technology has been a key driver in benefits administration solutions, it might be time to switch the focus to support. Senior Account Executive, Lorraine Holly, had this to say about the topic:

"Technology is great, but if you don’t have a good support team in place, it doesn’t make for a positive experience as a whole. Benefits administration is more than a sound technology platform; it is also about bringing people together, making the experience personal, and capturing the human element. For an employer, it’s about putting employee experience first." 

Benefitexpress provides benefits administration solutions focused on people. Does your benefits administration provider do that? If not, now is the perfect time to evaluate your vendor and make any necessary changes. 

ERISA Compliance 

HR compliance is ever-changing, and consists of numerous laws and acts to consider, like ERISA, FLSA, OSHA, FMLA, ADA, harassment, nondiscrimination laws, and more. While HR and benefits administrators know staying on top of compliance is a full-time job, the start of a new year is the perfect time to reset.

  • Review changes in Labor Laws
  • Schedule required compliance training 
  • Register for educational HR compliance webinars 

ACA Compliance

As part of the Affordable Care Act, employers must be able to show they are following the requirements of the law, and provide information to the IRS about the health plan coverage they offer (or do not offer) to their employees. 

"It’s ACA season - are employers ready?" prompts Holly. "There may be new laws and/or updates that are important to note or tips your benefit administration partner can provide that are timely for Q1." 

Now's the time to ensure you're prepared to meet 2020 ACA deadlines as well as provide employees with other important information about their benefits.

  • Prepare and distribute health plan summaries 
  • Prepare and distribute total compensation statements 
  • Prepare for ACA compliance duties and review ACA deadlines

While this checklist does not encapsulate every task that goes into HR and benefits planning, it's certainly a great place to start. As your organization begins checking off boxes on the HR and benefits new year checklist, consulting with our benefit-wise team can help you save time and money while improving employee satisfaction. In fact, our clients consider us as more than a benefits administration partner, and as an extension of their benefits team. 

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Topics: For Brokers & Consultants, For Employers