How HR can leverage the talent shortage

by CompareHRIS on February 4, 2016

talent managementEmployers are wrestling with a shortage in talent. It comes from the acceleration in technology and its applications, the new demographics representing mobile populations and shifting generations, and an evolving sense of choice among customers and workers. However, HR professionals can leverage their HRIS data into talent solutions.

You can measure the shortage.

Manpower Group has been reporting on talent availability for years. Its 2015 report cites employers concerns about the impacts on business performance:

  • 43% expect a reduction in the ability to serve clients.
  • 41% predict reduced competitiveness and productivity.
  • 32% foresee increasing employee turnover.
  • 22% envision a loss of their edge in innovation and creativity.

These fears can impact employee engagement, morale, and retention. What clearly follows is an increase in labor burden.

Manpower Group’s research lists the following top 10 employer needs:

  1. Skilled Trade Workers
  2. Drivers
  3. Teachers
  4. Sales Representatives
  5. Administrative Professionals
  6. Management/Executives
  7. Nurses
  8. Technicians
  9. Accounting and Financial Staff
  10. Engineers

Because the majority of businesses fall into one or more of these categories, HR professionals have the opportunity to make strategic use of the data held by their HRIS.

You can fix the problem.

If you want to become an HR strategist, you must move beyond legacy recruiting to vacancy. You must develop the recruiting, onboarding, and mentoring function into a continuous operation that does more than merely find and hire the hands to fill a position.

HRIS data gives you the information to:

  • Identify, classify, and describe jobs as evolving – not static – responsibilities.
  • Develop a talent profile for those successfully filling the job as it is now and as it can be expected to grow.
  • Target resources and talent pools that provide a resource of qualified eligible recruits.
  • Design training to enhance skills and competencies in widely disparate functions across the organization.
  • Facilitate succession planning and continuous development.

You can lead the solution.

  • Your HRIS database offers the best chance and mechanics to align your workforce to your business mission and goals. It gives you the data to study past performance in measurable, achievable, and relevant metrics. Based on those descriptive analytics, you can form the prospective metrics that show the way to personal growth and development.
  • Your HRIS gathers data, but it also provides the tools to communicate goals and visions. It provides a means to inform and train. It enables integration with big pictures and futures. It makes alignment a method as well as a purpose. In placing an individual’s labor in a larger context, it creates and enables belonging.
  • Your HRIS counts and measures attendance, chronicles performance, and archives other signs of employee commitment. HRIS operations illustrate the commitment as a sign of accountability and engagement.
  • Your HRIS captures workforce behaviors. In doing so, it can report on paths to success, and you can use that history to create a map for succession planning. You can then leverage that plan to engage in a strategic partnership with executive management once you make solutions tangible, measurable, and achievable.

The HR professional, wanting to add the value of strategist, is smart to exploit the current and future HRIS capabilities to manage the talent shortage. HRIS can facilitate and design remedies to the ensuing talent management problems. And, it can reshape the business culture into one commitment and engagement, creating a new loyalty and reducing turnover losses and costs.


How HRIS reports add to your strategic value

by CompareHRIS on January 29, 2016

HR ReportsWhat HR wants and what the rest of senior management wants is not always the same thing. I have known CEOs who want nothing more than five or ten flash points from which they can richly infer the status of the corporation. There’s some real talent in that!

But, it does seem that the larger the organization the more the other decision-makers want from the available data. It’s one of HR’s jobs to manage their HRIS mine to give them what they want and how they want it. Here are the four primary report areas your system should be generating:

1. People focused reports sort, plot, and chart the data usually associated with legacy Personnel Departments:

  • Birthday and Employment Anniversary records
  • Recruiting and hiring logs
  • Performance and training calendars
  • Benefits eligibility and benefits enrollment
  • Employee directory of names, addresses, phones, emergency contacts, and so on
  • Compliance data – Affirmative Action, EEOC, Car Pooling, I-9, and more

2. Work focused reports disclose the information in data on individual employee’s work:

  • Credential and work assignment correlation
  • Training completion and quality performance regression analysis
  • Performance assessment and development
  • Work-related discipline and corrective action
  • Bargaining unit detail: seniority, job assignment, member count

3. Finance focused reports hold keys to business’s financial performance:

  • Time and attendance reporting
  • Payroll process and distribution
  • Tax and benefits withholding and reporting
  • Payroll registry and reconciliation
  • Compensation plan: history and strategy

4. Outcomes focused reports integrate data to produce summary data for operations team and other stakeholders privileged to the confidentiality of the data:

  • Attribution of employee turnover and its costs
  • Data on current and future talent management
  • Correlation between cost and productivity of FTEs across the organization’s sectors
  • Data reflecting corporate culture and quality outcomes
  • Costs and efficacy of mandated benefits and corporation—sponsored benefits

If HRIS data is not being used in its entirety, it’s because users are ignorant of its potential or reluctant to explore its possibilities. It is rich with detail and analytic data. And, if it is not producing the reports you want, it may be because you are not asking the right questions.

Human Resource Management is control central for maximizing HRIS reporting outcomes. It is a show of leadership to educate your peer and senior managers on the potential and on how they can request the best of what you can supply. Before they ask for what the system doesn’t do, show them what it does best. Work with your HRIS vendor to create templates for various functional needs, and help them appreciate your strategic value.


When your boss is a jackass

by CompareHRIS on January 22, 2016

working for a jerkIt should come as no surprise to most people with even a little experience that giving someone a measure of power will sometimes go to their head. While this situation is easily handled in everyday and social settings – you just ignore the jerk – the issue is a little more problematic when that “jerk” is your boss.

Yes, for better or worse, your boss does have a moderate amount of power over your working day but that does not mean that they should be able to dictate your every waking action – especially when you are at home. How do deal with the situation? Here are just a few suggestions:

Take a Reasoned Approach – The first step in meeting the challenge of working for a difficult person is to determine if your boss actually has a legitimate gripe with your performance. Self-analysis is a difficult business so do some deep reflection on your own efforts and ask for feedback from someone you trust as to whether they feel you are underperforming or if the boss is just being overly critical.

Meet the Issue Head-On – You have undoubtedly heard this advice back in your elementary school days but it bears repeating, a bully shies away from a forceful character. Do not allow anyone, including your immediate supervisors, to simply run roughshod over you. Instead, you must gracefully take criticism but correct it if valid. Otherwise, make a forceful case for the aggression to end.

Document the Encounters – Once or even twice, you can safely ignore overly critical behavior but if the problem persists, it will probably be necessary to directly confront your boss or your career may suffer. Another path is to apprise the HR department of the situation. Although this choice may not make you many friends at the company, it is a totally legitimate course of action.

 Expand Your Options – Sometimes, a person is simply not a good fit for a particular situation. A personality clash, getting off on the wrong foot – whatever the reason, you should always be prepared to do what is best for you. This means that “hanging on” in an untenable position should only be considered as a matter of last resort. Instead, start looking for another job. “Every exit is an entry somewhere else.” -Tom Stoppard

A Final Thought – A well-lived life is a tripod balanced between life, play and love. In short, your work life isn’t everything. Try focusing on your other lives – those with your friends and your loves. It just may make the situation a bit more bearable until you can find something better.


Related Articles:
5 Reasons the Boss MAKES his Employees Hate Him
5 Ways to Demonstrate Leadership in your Business
4 Vital Jobs Done by Great Managers



Considerations When Choosing HR Software

by CompareHRIS on January 14, 2016

HR Software OptionsMost businesses do not fully utilize their Human Resource Information System’s potential. Considering the cost of use and the failure to use, you have to wonder why.

The problem and solution both lie in the decision to buy and/or in the implementation of the HRIS. Specifically, you should choose your HRIS for the capacity you want to employ – not necessarily for its potential capacity.

Don’t overbuy

For most HR decision makers, shopping can be overwhelming. It’s like buying a laptop. You really have to ask if you need all the bells and whistles. For example, if you don’t game, processing speed and virtual memory are not priorities. If you don’t use all the popular apps available, you don’t need to pay for them.

It’s true that brainstorming will create a list “desirables,” but it can be scattered and overwrought. You need to narrow, qualify, and prioritize the list into a short list of real needs. For example, you may want to select a program with scalability, able to grow with your organization. On the other hand, if at 150 employees you foresee growth to a maximum of 500, you do not need the cost of more growth than that.

Must haves

Any list of core requirements should include:

  • Time and attendance
  • Payroll administration
  • Tax withholding and reporting
  • Group benefits administration
  • Personal employee data

Strategic haves

Other functions you might want – only if you have a strategy for their use:

  • Applicant tracking and evaluation
  • Wage history and compensation planning
  • Performance and discipline reporting
  • Talent management and succession planning
  • Affirmative Action and other compliance data management

How to get there

HRIS becomes cost-effective when it meets both specific current needs and realistically foreseeable ones. It should be treated with all the scrutiny of any capital investment:

  • Identify the number of employees you want to process now and the number you expect to handle in a period of projected growth.
  • Pinpoint the information systems with which your HRIS will have to integrate.
  • Analyze in detail what you want the HRIS to report on and how you want the output to look.
  • Address the organizational functions you want to serve and how they want to be served.
  • Determine if the system will manage personnel at single, multiple, or mobile sites.
  • Establish the upfront costs of installation, continuing operation, and future expansion.
  • Work with your HRIS vendor to map needs to the technology’s potential.

It takes time, talent, and expert advice to select the HRIS product that best serves your identified needs, the one that fulfills the capacity you want to employ – not necessarily the potential capacity.

Tools, such as the HRIS Selector Tool at, can start the shopping and decision making with a disciplined approach to identify your needs and narrow potential choices.


All that can go wrong with your HRIS

by CompareHRIS on January 8, 2016

What can go wrongHuman Resource professionals often encounter problems with their HRIS, problems that arise from questions never asked. Of course, software sometimes comes with glitches. But, as often as not, the problems lie in the apparent inability to reconcile differences between performance and expectations.

All that can go wrong with a program will go wrong. On the other hand, you need to pursue clear goals and metrics. And, you want to know all that you can do with your HRIS potential. Here are some problems you can avoid with the right mindset:

What’s it supposed to do?

Any product will fail expectations that you have not clarified. You invite trouble when you define goals as they occur to you or during implementation. You owe it to yourself and to the HRIS vendor to explore needs and potential from early on.

  • Understand what competitive products offer.
  • Define specific outcomes you want for your needs.
  • Identify the outcomes that serve your workforce and executive suite.

The surest way to avoid low performance is to have clear expectations all around. Vendor reps stand ready and willing to shape your vision and frame your expectations. The sooner you establish the trust in their collaborative advice the better for the sort of long term commitment this represents.

What use is it?

Users define what they mean by “useful.” Where HRIS works successfully, it does so at the nexus of HR personnel, all levels of the workforce across the organization’s functional silos, and the executive management your outcomes serve.

You are mistaken to characterize user needs as all the same or even primarily useful to HR. For example, floor workers, field sales reps, call centers, road drivers, all have widely varied wants. The vice presidents of finance, marketing, operations, and more are all vested in certain data reports.

To please them all, you must fully ascertain what they want in broad and deep ways:

  • Invite all potential users to participate.
  • Secure input, buy-in, and feedback at all levels.
  • Frame a platform that reflects the collaboration.
  • Work and re-work the draft until you have a consensus.

The time exhausted on this process will return the investment because it continues to define and refine its wants and wishes as something that can be actuated.

What does HRIS cost?

A successful HRIS tool requires investment in time and money. The pre-process burns time, and that means employee hours. The expenditure appears heavier if you have not built in the value of planning, participation, and performance.

It is your job to make the system user-friendly on a pre-emptive and continuing basis. Until it is operational and meaningful, users can be negative, skeptical, and even hostile. There is a bridge in time to any project of this size and sort that you cannot stretch without expecting some sabotage.

  • Choose your development team carefully and productively.
  • Represent all users.
  • Delegate tasks, research, and decisions.

Depending on the size of your organization, you should consider the use of an experienced Project Manager able to draw and segment the process of user needs and project solutions. This relieves you of the immediate burden, involves a third party expertise, and centralizes the preparation and installation.

What does the data do?

Hopefully, the HRIS will process data the way you need and want. It is markedly more accurate in its sorting, charting, and retention than any human system. On the other hand, you need to have a metric for accurate and complete work from early on.

  • Define metrics for input and output.
  • Test run and revise performance.
  • Review system validity regularly.
  • Revise system operation and performance goals.

Data serves those who know how to use it and to find, chart, and communicate the information it contains.

Build your future into your HRIS plan.

All that can go wrong with a complex system will go wrong. But, problems and weaknesses can be eliminated, minimized, and corrected so long as you build the HRIS plan’s future into its origin. You can plot its installation and self-fulfilling values if you ask the right questions at the start.

Look to for its information on vendors, features, and benefits. Use its HRIS Software Buyer’s Guide and its HRIS/HRMS Selector Tool for support in your research and effective decision-making.


How software as a service defines your future

by CompareHRIS on January 5, 2016

SaaS(2)A Human Resources department either manages yesterday or enables tomorrow. It preoccupies itself with records and risk management, or it supports individual and organizational growth. As noted in a 2014 study by the Information Services Group (ISG), “When [HR Technology] providers are allowed to put their focus on the windshield, rather than the rear-view mirror, the pace of innovation accelerates.”

When you look to commit to Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) or to upgrade your service, start thinking how tech futures can broaden and enhance the value of Human Resources to the corporate strategy.

5 Ways HR software as a service defines your future:

  1. Big data applies to more than the volume of content. It is made possible by huge progress in cloud technology. The volume, speed, and self-maintenance enabled in the cloud creates economies of scale, unprecedented opportunities for service, and stakeholder satisfaction.
  2. Advancing systems replicate and determine workflow. They interface with functional operators and reduce the dependence on resident Information Technology hours.
  3. The increased integration of Human Resource management systems, Talent Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, and/or Track Training Software gives the services a visibility and presence. In the right strategic hands, the systems will respond to real-time needs, identify operational performance and market conditions, and deliver human solutions.
  4. Once access works across new and emerging platforms, HR information systems can offer user-friendly, socially-engaging, and self-satisfying experiences with technology resources far more sophisticated than they appear.
  5. Innovative and imaginative at best, Human Resource technology can offer a first person chat and customer service experience. It blends real and virtual experience into something immediate, useful, and effective.

5 Questions you need to ask first:

  1. How deep and broad is your stakeholder commitment? All partners and customers have to map and match their objectives and outcomes.
  2. How does the cost balance impact? Costs cover pre-installation, implementation, and transition. Impacts include financial savings and investment returns on performance.
  3. How well do you understand what you have and what you want? As decision maker, you have to know what to do and what exposure you are open to in terms of the system performance.
  4. How and what will you communicate and on what schedule? The system will affect organizational performance for a long time, and the organization deserves to know what to expect, what to value, and what to deliver.
  5. How will the software service aid strategy? To optimize results, you must employ the potential more than the tool. It is, after all, a delivery system, not an end in itself.

Competitive HRIS programs are light years from the spreadsheet payroll with which small businesses open their doors. Difficult to explain features serve a multitude of benefits. Sophisticated technological physics elude the average user and customer.

HR decision makers have to trust more than explain. And, you must surrender to discovery and innovation. You have to study potential and align it with personal, organizational, and user needs. You have to position yourself to be able to identify right providers and to assertively demand your system solutions.


Sivak, M. &. (2014). Human Resources Technology and Service Delivery Trends in 2014. Information Services Group. Retrieved November 14, 2015, from


sales managerThe vast majority of unsuccessful companies never really get a handle on their sales force. While they invest large amounts of human and financial capital in the training of their front-line salespeople, they often make a mistake by not doing the same for their sale’s managers. Instead, they simply promote one of the more successful reps, make him a “manager” and hope he learns on the job. Unfortunately, this strategy doesn’t usually work out that well.

The proper way to get the most out of a sales training budget is to gear it towards the entire sales hierarchy and not just at the most inexperienced members. One primary goal of this strategy should be to train sales managers on the management side of their job and not just expect them to expound upon their sales skills to their subordinates.

The Underlying Problem

Lack of training can do more than lose you a promising sales manager and otherwise excellent salesperson, it can demoralize your entire staff and lose you customers in the process. Here are just a few behaviors of poor sales managers that will help you to recognize if yours is undertrained:

Reverting to Selling Instead of Leading

At some point, your sales manager must realize that they are not a glorified salesperson and that their continued success now depends on leading their team and not just meeting an individual sales goal. This predilection can manifest itself in odds ways. For example, spending the bulk of their time with the best salespeople – who don’t really need coaching – and not with the under performers is one of the classic signs of a non-leader.

Not Setting Priorities for Themselves and Their Team

Inexperienced sales managers can get bogged down in the minutiae of their jobs if not trained properly. While they seem to be working hard, it is more as the proverbial “firefighter” than as a true leader. Any crisis will derail their best laid plans and they never seem to have the time to do the real work of teaching and coaching their team. In short, the whole sales effort becomes an ad-hoc attempt to meet goals without any clear, overriding sense of purpose.

Being Unable to Diagnose Performance Issues within Their Team

As any successful sales manager will tell you, there are reps who lack the “skill” and those who lack the “will.” Each must not only be recognized for their particular shortcoming but also must be handled in a specific manner. Simply relating to the reps that goals have not been met rather than offering concrete and actionable ways to resolve the issue is simply self-defeating.

Accepting Mediocrity and Failing to Act in a Timely Manner

While every sales person deserves the chance to develop their skills, it is a mistake for a sales manager to let the process drag on too long. If mediocrity becomes the norm, then “star” performers will take the hint and the entire department will start to underperform. Instead, a properly trained sales manager will take the time to coach a failing salesperson and, if not successful, will move them on to greener pastures.

Allowing the Prima-Donnas to Dictate Policy

Prima-donnas are not always the best salespeople on the team but they are the most vocal. A good sales manager avoids conflict with these “know-it-alls” by establishing standards of behavior – not sales goals, mind you – that induce behaviors in the sales team that lead to better results. Minimum numbers of phone calls and sales meetings set are two prime examples. The sales manager then ensures that every member of the team, regardless of their current numbers, is meeting or exceeding these standards.

Not Creating a Development Plan

For better or worse, the average sales person will go after the “low hanging fruit” in their territory. Once these potential clients are exhausted, the sales reps will turn to their manager and ask for guidance on how to proceed. It is a very poor sales manager indeed who fails to see this day coming. Instead, top sales managers will identify areas of interest and structure a cohesive plane to penetrate that market. In addition, they will also identify obstacles and ways to overcome them. In this way, the sales manager becomes the source of leads and not the source of aggravation.

Failing to Monitor the Situation

The best plans are ruined by good intentions and no action. It is up to the sales manager to ensure that the proper procedures are being monitored through adequate follow-up. Train them to have the courage to challenge their team and to question their own actions.

The Bottom Line

As you probably realize, the real peril for your Paul or Pauline is that the daily administrative functions start to overwhelm their working hours. Instead of focusing on developing their team, the sales managers are forced into a bookkeeping role. Needless to say, all aspects of the selling process suffer when this occurs.

Avoiding this pitfall is as simple as providing your sales managers with the proper HCM tools. Whether you decide to implement an HRIS to monitor many of the more routine metrics or outsource the job to a PEO, your sales managers will be able to concentrate on the real task at hand, growing and developing your sales force.


Motives and Outcomes when purchasing HRIS

by CompareHRIS on December 11, 2015

HRIS budget planningJust what are you going to spend on HR software? If budgeting your spend per employee, you’ll want to line item the expenditure on HR technology. It may be a big dollar or small, but it has its place. Now, what you spend and where you spend it, that’s worth looking at.

A survey by branding specialists fisherVISTA describes HR purchasing origins, motives, and outcomes. Some numbers may leave you behind; others may offer some direction to your budgeting plans. All in all, their findings can influence and move you towards a strategic decision.

The Survey Results

Keep in mind this survey is not specific to HRIS or related technology. It covers all HR purchasing, and the results describe the market behavior of HR buying decisions. For instance, it reports, “More than 40% of respondents indicated they planned to spend more per employee in the next 12 months on the following product categories: manager training, employee training, employee benefits and rewards and recognition.” Considering that HRIS can be the central operating mechanism for these tasks, it can pull together motives and priorities. Here are a few additional points of interest:

  • HR decision-makers do not first turn to big name brand when thinking about purchases.
  • Modern as they are, 35.5% explore their options on the internet.
  • Nearly 40% seek the input of their peers, and 5.1% work with “a trusted online influencer.”
  • Some 10% talk to product vendors at conventions and conferences.
  • And, 1.45% look for input on social media.

Of concern to the survey sponsors, respondents did not list name brand as a significant mover.

The Survey Implications

When pressed through additional questioning, the survey respondents admitted they were concerned about brand reputability when it came to risk. Applicant tracking, job boards, background screening, and payroll services all raised the interest in brand recognition, credibility, and reputation.

Even though brand does not mean much in their initial research, HR buyers acknowledge reliance on brand as they approach decision time. But, even there, the research shows that brand means much more to CEO and CFO influencers.

HR customers largely research information about HR products through search engines and LinkedIn at least weekly. The majority never get their info from Twitter or podcasts. They rarely check blogs, but 67% attend semi-annual conferences. Most are unlikely to download whitepapers and reports if they have to complete online fields. And, they read HR publications and participate in webinars monthly.

Over 80% of the HR professionals surveyed attend one or more conferences every year, and 70% of them visit the exhibition hall (though only 10% talk to vendors). Given their reluctance to think brand name first, they would appear to be shopping with an open mind.

It seems that the decision to commit to HR technology is at the center of a number of influences. Unless the decision-maker is directed to a specific vendor, you are likely to start your shopping online and to explore your options with peers. The survey suggests first and lasting contacts begin at trade shows where visible marketing and glad-handing holds a lot of sway. In any case, brand is not your hallmark. It does not open doors or clinch deals, however it becomes more important when thinking about features that are associated with risk and compliance such as payroll.

The Survey and You

You are at the center of innovative products and services. You fend off aggressive vendors, and you may be confused by the proliferation of options. Where HRIS is a first time decision for you, you are likely to trust friends, peers, and instincts. You also may not have the right questions to ask or the correct sense of your needs. So, brand can be more intimidating than helpful. But, if you are starting your research online, provides a unique forum of interest and information along with its invaluable HRIS Selector Tool.



Three ways HRIS supports your training

by CompareHRIS on December 4, 2015

HRIS tracks trainingHRIS processes data but it does not train. It is a resource and tool that you can use to strategize training outcomes when you pursue the ways HRIS supports your training goals.

Successful training clarifies its intent, engages its users, and produces desired outcomes. You need to focus on three functions: application, context, and metrics – all of which HRIS supports.

1.  Application

The workforce does not like theory. Promises and ideals are a reach. They like practical applications. They want connection to and linkage to their actual work. They are pragmatic and value what’s in it for them.

HRIS data offers information that provides that link. When you tie the training matter and means to the performance goals and targets in their work path, you give them something to walk away with. For example, the data can display (in any number of formats) their individual and team role in current and future performance processes.

2.  Context

Everything in the workplace has a history. All performance happens in the context of past and future work. The workforce sees things better when they are framed in terms of how things led to current success or failure and how their individual and team performance can make a difference to their individual and team goals.

HRIS provides a big data context. It has all the names, numbers, and specifics you need to make a snapshot of the “big picture.” Well used, the data will inform, engage, and instruct when it visualizes the specific employee in the corporate scenario. In doing so, it populates the bigger picture making performance part of the strategic model.

3.  Metrics

HRIS will easily score participation. But, it also provides the potential to drill down into those scores from numerous angles and to decisive depths. Its systems will score against the individual’s past and current record. It will integrate those scores across a team and/or organizational function, and it will align those metrics with corporate goals.

However, this utility depends on your choice of metrics. HRIS provides myriad means and measures, but between you and your HRIS vendor, you can devise the most meaningful metrics for your industry sector and workforce size. All those with “needs to know” can observe and share results and cross integration. For example, when metrics show analytics that indicate performance needs in shipping and fulfillment, your trainers can target that department’s workforce to step up or redirect its performance to serve related functions across functional silos. Workers, operations, and executive management can all see the metrics that make a difference to them.

The potential in HRIS deserves able management that understands and exploits its content and ability. It is not just another piece of office equipment. It aids and partners in helping you and those on your watch to align and forge ahead. These are three examples of how HRIS supports your training, but these means still require your able and assertive management. offers tools that help you research and maximize your HRIS needs and shopping options.


benefits sign up Clocks are ticking! It’s that time of year, again. And, we’re not talking about the holidays. Employees have to enroll for group medical benefits – now under the influence of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If your workforce benefits from your HRIS program, how much of the open enrollment can you leave to the system? It’s much harder than just keying into an HRIS terminal.

Tie up the loose ends

The best HRIS programs manage all the operational aspects of group medical benefits enrollment. In addition, HRIS pushes considerable responsibility to the employees who can manage their enrollment independently in the system.

Still, you have to communicate a lot of detail to educate employees regarding their decision and then direct that decision behavior before and during the enrollment period.

Here are six bases you have to cover and monitor:

1. Final deadline: Employees can sign up as late as January 16 to January 31, 2016. However, when they wait that long, their benefits coverage will not take effect until March 1, 2016.

• November 1, 2015 to December 15, 2015 enrollments take effect January 1, 2016.
• December 16, 2015 to January 15, 2016 sign ups take effect February 1, 2016.

You should begin now to communicate that open enrollment at the end of 2016 will occur between October 15 and December 7, 2015 without exception.

2. Mandatory enrollment: Employees must enroll in your offered medical insurance program when:

• The employee does not have government provided insurance, like Medicare or Veterans’ care.
• The employee is 26 and no longer enjoys protection under a parent’s health plan.
• The employee is not enrolled in a spouse’s medical benefit plan.
• The employee expects to secure tax credits to support payment of health insurance premium.

3. Change opportunity: Medical benefits renew automatically, but the specific benefits and the insurance carrier may change from year to year. For example, co-pays, provider networks, and prescription and hospitalization may change. Open enrollment presents the opportunity to:

• Select an alternative plan offered through the company.
• Seek insurance though the open marketplace or state sponsored exchange.
• Renew the current health insurance plan.
• Add family members previously not covered and/or drop members who are no longer eligible.

4. Missed opportunity: When employees fail to meet the enrollment deadlines, they cannot sign up for a year unless they qualify for special enrollment such as would follow a divorce, marriage, birth/adoption of a child, or death of a spouse or partner who had the included employee in their plan.

5. Increased penalty: In 2016, the penalty for lack of health insurance will be 2.5 percent of your income. That’s at least $695 plus $347.50 for each child. And, the plan must cover:

• Preventive, wellness, and rehabilitation services
• Outpatient care and lab tests
• Emergency care and hospitalization
• Pregnancy, newborn care, and dental and vision coverage for children
• Mental health and substance abuse expenses
• Prescription medications

You must provide Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) for each plan option.

6. Tax credits: Tax credits are available to employees who find themselves between 100 and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). So, an employee with a family of four will be eligible with an annual income as high as $97,000. That credit can be used to reduce the monthly insurance premium.

Much more than just a few keystrokes

Employees covered by Medicare and/or who have suffered a significant hardship in the current year may fall under special exceptions. However, it should be obvious that a large number of workers will find the process harder than just keying into an HRIS-enabled terminal.

Employees need advance communication, walk-throughs, and available advice. And, for those with an English language-limited workforce, your obligations multiply. You can negotiate with your HRIS provider to notch up their interface, but until ACA becomes an entitlement and while it goes through its start-up hiccups, you have to prepare to step up if only to hold hands.


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