Can Employee Benefits Administrators Be Outsourced?

Woman reviewing employee benefits paperwork

After years of hard work, your business is finally taking off — and fast. Your client list is growing like wildfire, your reach is expanding, and your team is hiring. By any calculation, that’s a good problem for a business owner to have. At the same time, however, a quick increase in demand can lead to growing pains and stretched employees who find themselves beyond what they originally signed on to handle. 

Can you take some of the load off both your team and your budget by outsourcing some aspects of your operation, such as employee benefits administration? In a word, yes. But it isn’t a decision to be made lightly or quickly. If you’re considering partnering with a third-party expert to handle one or more of your HR operations, here are some things to consider:

1. Cost

The two biggest business expenses are payroll and benefits, including not just the insurance coverage, but management hours, software programs and all the administrative tasks necessary to keep everything running. And while the workload may not be a factor for a business with only a few employees, it can quickly overwhelm both the HR and accounting staff as a business grows.

You’ll find a number of different ways to partner with benefits administration partners, from those who provide only software to full-service companies who manage everything. Services are typically priced as a percentage per employee, but be sure to read the entire contract — hidden fees can be common, especially when services are bundled.

2. Tech

If your company’s HR technology is good, you may not even notice how much you use it. But if it’s not? Cue the angry emails. In today’s digital society, running a business without tech is no longer an option, but the costs — both in software and staff to maintain it — can be prohibitive. When you partner with a third-party organization, you’ll gain access to not only technology that can manage everything from recruitment to benefits management, but IT professionals who help manage workflow and troubleshoot issues.

During your search for an outsourcing partner, make sure their tech is current, user-friendly and — perhaps most importantly — secure.

3. Expertise equals efficiency

The IT gurus aren’t the only experts who come with a third-party partnership. The right benefits administration partner also has expertise in specific areas of benefits and other HR-related business aspects. And if your in-house HR team either lacks that focus — or lacks the time to learn it — bringing in an outside expert can help ease that burden. Imagine entering a business partnership where a full team is already experienced, has an efficient process already in place, and is ready to roll from Day 1.

While it can be relatively easy to find a third-party administrator with expertise in HR issues, one way to find the best partner for you is to look for someone who also understands not just your HR needs, but your specific business. A mid-sized outsourcing company, for example, might better understand the needs and demands of your mid-sized business. Or, an account lead with previous HR experience for your industry can be a valuable partner.

4. Focus

Whether it’s the old-fashioned kind or a digital version, HR is nothing if not reams and reams of paperwork. And when a growing business tries to keep up internally, employees can quickly find themselves drowning in admin, from recruitment and hiring, to onboarding, to separation paperwork. Outsourcing one or more aspects of your team’s heavy lifting can help a department get back to its core focus — advocating for employees or focusing on long-term strategic planning, for example.

5. Liability

Is your company up to date on regulatory compliance requirements and new or updated laws? Are you sure? Most businesses are required to operate via certain industry standards and government regulations regarding privacy, data protection and confidentiality, and some are subject to even more. If you’re in a business where the rules seem to be constantly changing, falling behind can find you in violation of the law.

This can be especially true as a company grows. Passing the 50-employee milestone, for example, triggers regulations around the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It can also change laws around payroll taxes and other aspects of people management.

Always bear in mind that while choosing to outsource your benefits administration can bring relief to an over-stretched staff, it can also come with downsides, including a lack of human touch and quality issues. It’s important to take your time, do your homework, and find an outsourcer who fits right in.

At Corban OneSource, we understand that outsourcing benefits administration is a big decision, so we invest the time to get to know you and your needs, too. Because we aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution, we can truly partner to focus on what will help your business thrive.