Brokers have long been respected for their expertise within the world of benefits — and they’re solidifying that position as they incorporate technology and professional guidance to better serve their clients.


When employers decide to outsource their benefits, they do so nearly half of the time with the goal of improving their benefits-related technology, according to the 2014 Guardian Workplace Benefits Study. “Employers who outsource enrollment are more focused on expanding benefits technology as a strategic goal,” the study found. “Those who totally outsource their enrollment are far more likely to report that their payroll, benefits administration and enrollment record keeping are highly automated.”


Technology improvements have many upsides for employers, especially as they improve the many recordkeeping tasks needed to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


“Amid uncertainty, many employers are evaluating the advantages of outsourcing all or part of their benefits administration and enrollment functions,” the study found. “It may be easier and more prudent to use an external organization to apply the changing and complex benefits policies and requirements consistently across all of their employee groups than it is to try to continue managing with internal benefits staff. Increasingly, employers believe that outsourcing also will be more cost-effective in this rapidly changing environment.”


The emphasis on technology and professional guidance are a newer role for brokers, writes Nick Otto for Employee Benefit Advisor, as the focus within HR in general changes. “Modernizing core HR technology is emerging as the primary HR service delivery priority,” writes Otto, quoting Mike DiClaudio, global leader of Towers Watson’s HR service delivery practice. “While in the past, companies have mostly invested in secondary technology for talent, compensation and performance management, there has been a dramatic shift to investing in core HR systems.”


Employers are also placing a particular emphasis on cloud-based platforms, Otto writes. “The changing environment will lead companies to take a closer look at their overall HR technology needs,” he writes, quoting DiClaudio.


Brokers can help employers explore those technologies, writes Mike Nesper for Employee Benefit News. “Employers are turning to brokers to help with everything from navigating the ACA to exploring technology capabilities to administering group plans,” Nesper writes. ”With broker involvement, employers are more likely to consolidate carriers, outsource benefits administration and expand their use of benefits technology.”