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| Intranet and HR #3
Its after 7:00pm and once again both you and your Benefits staff are still working, why me! Sound familiar? Your Benefits staff are working almost every evening trying to get their regular work done as most of the day was spent on the phone counseling employees about their benefit plans. There must be a better way! There is if your company already has most employees connected to the internet, or if you have the capability for a corporate intranet.
Let's talk about Benefits for the corporate home page today. Last issue we covered how to get started with your own company human resources web site using existing policy information as the first step of the project. Much of what we discovered there is that you can use existing company information to move onto a corporate web site for use by employees and others.
The same goes for benefits information. You probably already have it in text form anyway, how else did you get those nice new booklets printed up? But the booklets and brochures are not always that easy to follow and before you know it they are out of date again. Your Benefits Manager works hard at keeping ahead of the curve by having the information available in text form for the staff to use one on one with employees but there are usually delays in getting it printed. Try what many companies have already had success with: put it all up on your company web site and as it changes, just key it in once and its available immediately for staff and employees to see and use.
How to get started! Most have found it easier to use the material you already have, the information that takes time and resources to print and distribute.
So, you have been working on a new Preferred Provider drug program for your organization. Instead of killing tons of trees, put the information on the plan up on the web site. Sure there will be a few employees who will not have easy access to a web browser but they can have a hard copy printed off by the Benefits office or their supervisor. For an example of this, see the HR page of McMaster University, one of the leading and best examples of making life easier for HR by effective use of the internet.
Take a look at McMasters home page at: http://hr.mcmaster.ca/ and work your way down to Human Resources at: http://hr.mcmaster.ca/ then on to Benefits at: http://hr.mcmaster.ca/data/hrinfo/benefits/ See the option for their Benefits Handbook. From there you can even download Adobe Acrobat to use in downloading files. From the Handbook site you are presented a menu to download the information you require, like their Dental Benefits Fact Sheet.
If used wisely, a HR home page with Benefits information makes it very easy to read and understand guidelines on your benefit plans. Information presentation is well thought out AND can be reorganized if feedback from employees indicates a problem. Try that with the 10,000 brochures you just had printed. Look at an example of a benefit plan, such as the Major Medical option at McMaster. You see a clear index of the topics and once you select the one you want you are instantly looking at the information, no leafing through a manuscript.
When new regulatory changes are implemented or when the company makes changes, you will be able to spread the word very quickly and avoid the hassle of having the information printed and distributed. If you want everyone to know about the change, you can do an e-mail broadcast to point select groups of employees to look at a specific web site with the new information.
Having this information readily available on your company web page should save you and your staff a lot of time previously spent responding to cries for help to understand coverage, options, etc.
Once the basic Benefit information is up on the corporate home page, it will be time to add in additional functionality that will make life easier for everyone. Forms. How much time is lost when an employee either has to walk or drive to the HR office or call the HR office for a drug, vision, or hearing claim form? Once you have your home page up, now its time to add forms to the services on-line. Again, look at the McMaster home page. They provide the full range of forms required for use by an employee and the employee can print them right from their own desk. You can also go one step further and have no paper at all, having the employee fill out and submit the electronic form right on the web.
Your Pension staff can spend an inordinate amount of time running retirement calculations for employees. If you have progressed to the point where you are ready to put up forms on your web site, you can have a request submitted by the employee right to your staff, or you can move to the next phase and start using your web site to connect to your different HR systems and actually use all that data HR has been collecting for years.
We are also able now to have full employee self-service, with the employee picking the benefit options on enrollment and annually or as changes occur. All of this happens without Benefit staff assistance and without paper! Edify's new web site http://www.edify.com/ features an on-line demonstration of their technology in action. MedHunters, a Canadian firm, developed a web application for their own use as medical recruiters that was so successful that they are developing HR applications for other organizations. Their current demo site of http://www.medhunters.com/corpdemo will soon move to a new site that will show many employee self service capabilities.
We will cover more on the technical side of forms and connecting to various data bases in a later column on this topic, but for now, set your sights on getting started with a web site with all the benefit information your employees need to see and free up some time for the Benefits department to wrestle with everyone's hot topic: escalating benefit costs.
Some useful information to have on Benefits for your company:
Benefit plans offered for each employee group.
- What is covered
- How to make a claim
Plan Rates, options
Location of Pharmacies that service your Preferred Provider Drug Plan
News Bulletins on benefit changes
Updates on pension plan earnings
Employee Total Compensation Statement
Some companies that have created an internal web site for their Human Resource information:
Federal Express Ltd.
Pacific Gas & Electric
Volkswagen of America
Philip Morris USA
John Deere & Company
-Al Doran is President of Phenix Management Int'l, a Richmond Hill, Ont. management consulting firm specializing in HRMS issues. He is co-author of a new book published by Nelson Canada, Human Resource Management Systems. He may be reached at: aldoran(at)pmihrm.com and his home page is http://www.pmihrm.com/
COPYRIGHT - Al Doran - January 1997
Phenix Management Int'l
10520 Yonge St., Unit 35B, Suite 217
Richmond Hill, ON, Canada L4C 3C7
phone: 416-505-6204 fax: 416-352-7456