Archive | October, 2013

HRIS Data Integrity

9 Oct

Recruiting in Today's Job Market

This guest blog post is courtesy of Robin Rothman, Sage Product Marketing Manager.  She has over 25 years in Human Resources Management and Director roles.  She is an expert in the areas of: Associate Relations, Compensation, Affirmative Action, Recruitment, Legal Compliance, Training and Development, HRIS and Employee Benefits. 

Data integrity refers to maintaining and assuring the accuracy and consistency of data and is a critical aspect to the design, implementation and usage of any system which stores, processes or retrieves data. The term data integrity may have widely different meanings depending on the specific context but for our purpose, we’ll discuss how it pertains to the implications of your HR and Payroll data.

The overall intent of data integrity is to ensure data is recorded exactly as intended to your HRIS system or database. When you are ready to retrieve the data at some later point in time, maintaining an accurate internal record of your data ensures that the intended data is the same as it was when it was originally provided to you and recorded to your database.

For the HR and Payroll professional, producing reports is one of the essential functions of the job. Inputs can (and probably are) received from various sources. You probably produce a lot of reports for various areas within your business. Different departments within your organization may also have access to your central repository. The individual responsible for data reporting should feel some level of comfort knowing that the reports they eventually produce, contain the intended data.

For example, there are times when pieces of data are input incorrectly. Fields such as first name, last name and social security number are one of those easily overlooked items. At the onset, it may seem insignificant and/or have an easy fix. However, if not corrected timely could have far stretching implications aside from just having the wrong name appear on a report. No big deal, right? Well, not so much…

For example, here’s what can happen…”last name” field is input into a database incorrectly. Someone generates a report that retrieves that particular field from your database. That piece of data may be used for presentation at a meeting where that particular employee may be in attendance. For example, some staff or other Execute level meeting where new employees may be introduced. So, someone who is not familiar with that person introduces them at the meeting. But…their name is spelled incorrectly (or confused with another name). Here’s how it goes…Good afternoon everyone, I’d like to introduce you to our new employee Tim Jones. Tim Jones will be working with our Merchandising Department. Ok, but, Tim Jones’ name is really Jim Jones. Better yet, he uses the name James. Where did Tim come from? Is he Jim or James? Confusing, isn’t it? Think for a minute how that person being introduced may feel. They may have felt the company doesn’t even care enough about their employees to get their name correct. They may also have felt that the company they just accepted employment with isn’t professional enough to get their employee’s name correct. What about his email address? Has it been set up in the system as Tim.Jones @ There are so many areas that need to be corrected. It’s like branches of a tree that grew out everywhere, but even quicker. I’m sure you see the point by now.

This just talks to the employee relations side of the error. Wrong names input into a database cross referenced with incorrect social security numbers yields errors for both Social Security Administrative reporting for the employee as well as incorrectly stated year end W-2 reporting for both the employee and your Payroll department. Information input into E-Verify is inaccurate causing unnecessary time for the HR or Payroll Professional as well as an inconvenience to the employee in trying to resolve the discrepancy. Hmmm, what a mess!!!
Does this happen? You bet!

Here’s another example. Salary information is provided to you from one source or external process. Data input then occurs through another source. Failure to verify/cross reference the data could result in inaccurate reporting, cause major financial implication and simply put, cause the department providing the data to lose credibility within their role and/or functional area of responsibility. This is one of the easiest, most controllable but overlooked area from an administrative perspective. So what can you do if you don’t have the time to check your data? Enlist the assistance of another area within your organization to help. Taking the time to ensure that your data is correct could save you many hours of lost productivity at a future point in time.

Carefully, taking the time to check the work entered/input into any system ensures that when you produce a report for yourself (or another entity), credible information is produced. Maintaining your credibility; it’s impossible to put a price on that!

Open Enrollment Part II – Plan Selection

4 Oct

Health Benefits Can Be CostlyThis guest blog post is courtesy of Robin Rothman, Sage Product Marketing Manager.  She has over 25 years in Human Resources Management and Director roles.  She is an expert in the areas of: Associate Relations, Compensation, Affirmative Action, Recruitment, Legal Compliance, Training and Development, HRIS and Employee Benefits. 

Once  you’ve decided on how you will handle the Administrative pieces of your Open Enrollment process, you’ll want to carefully take time to consider what options you have in selecting your plan. There will be plenty of choices for sure. Selecting options that work best for you and your employees will also necessitate consideration of your budget. You may ask yourself some questions such as, Can this plan work for us? Is it affordable to the employees? Will it be enough to attract and retain the talent we need for the business? There are many other questions you are more than likely to think about. We hope to support your thought process by providing additional information for you to consider when incorporating them into your existing processes (or if you are new to the process, some areas for you to initially consider).

What You Can Do
Obtain forecast renewals from your carrier and/or your broker. At this time, it would be advisable to obtain the quotes you need to ensure a broad range benefit offering. Once you begin the selection process, it would be helpful to partner in your Finance department by providing them with numeric spreadsheets that contain basic information to ensure you have remained within your budget. Sometimes, unforeseen business conditions necessitate last minute budget revisions. It is beneficial to incorporate them early in your process as opposed to having to redo the entire benefit selection/offering process.

Prepare an overview document for your Executive and/or the Executive to whom you directly report so they can have the chance to ask you questions. Obtaining Executive support also ensures they will share the information with other executives and garner higher level support for this important company-wide initiative. In some cases, you may need to communicate information that is not as favorable as in previous years, so having that additional Executive support helps.

Reserve any resources you need for presentation (conference rooms, conference calls, virtual presentation vendors). It’s helpful to send calendar invites so your audience can plan their time accordingly well in advance. Last minute invites could leave your audience guessing whether or not you have accurately prepared and/or selected their benefit offerings.

Create an invite memo for the meeting. Although you can’t include your benefit offerings in the invite memo, you can create excitement for the process. Don’t miss your chance to create and promote positive morale. Be sure to include your insurance broker and/or carrier representative. Since you have been working with them throughout your process, it’s easy to overlook their invitation to your final rollout.

Calculate participant costs and company costs. Create an easy to understand document that employees can share with their families. It’s ok to be creative but, remember; sometimes the decision maker for benefit selection may not be the employee. It may be a significant other who was not in attendance at your meeting. Identify COBRA participants that need timely notifications. If you use a third party vendor, ensure you are aware of their deadlines for any new information to be input into their systems. Ensure your documents contain the necessary information for compliance. Visit all applicable Department of Labor websites for any changes. If the information doesn’t seem clear to you, obtain the advice or your legal counsel. There are often hefty penalties associated with non-compliance. Obtaining legal guidance ensures you are in compliance with federal and state laws.

Once benefit plans have been selected, you will need to obtain (or create) the legally required Summary Plan Descriptions. Recent legislation has made this easier to read since all carriers are required to format their documentation in a uniform manner. If you are self-insured, be sure to have your legal team review the Summary Plan description to ensure compliance with applicable federal and/or state laws.

Prepare attendance sheets and/or a tracking mechanism for your meeting(s). This will help avoid mailing duplication. It’s also helpful to capture a record of attendance or external mailing for compliance with applicable compliances that involve time sensitive dates of receipt.

If your meeting requires physical presence, enlist the help of Administrative Departments with room setup, material dissemination, attendance tracking, meal planning, etc. Be sure to thank and acknowledge them both before and after your meeting. Remember, this is a team effort. They will appreciate the recognition.

Once your documents have been created, some areas you may consider include: Do you have a company intranet where documents need to be replaced? Will your Recruitment Department need the new materials for prospective employees, for candidates? Will Payroll require information on benefit cost changes? Can you think of anyone else inside and outside your organization that will you need to communicate your benefit changes and costs to? If you have any out of state and/or remote employees, if they are not located in close proximity to your main office or do not have easy access to a dedicated Human Resource representative, will they require any additional meeting time for questions and answers? If your organization is large, is there a place where the employees can come for assistance with benefit selection? Have you communicated to them where they can turn to for questions and/or assistance? If you provide an opt-out allocation for your employees, will they need any documentation from your company to support proof of your open enrollment changes?

Once you have selected your plan, finalize the new costs with your brokers, insurance carrier and/or third party vendors. This will ensure accurate billing. Communicate effective date for all plans. Ensure required plan testing and/or Section 125 documents (if applicable) have been completed. Prepare any forms/mechanisms for benefit selection/capture. Test this process carefully. Have someone familiar with your process review these forms for accuracy. You want your documents to be free from errors, typos etc. These are the items you can absolutely control, so take the time to review and re-review.

Meet with your Payroll department to review the process. Provide them with draft documents and collaborate with them on their needs. As you know, this will affect employee paychecks. Oftentimes, Payroll is on the front line. Partnering in with your Payroll Department ensures that processes will flow smoothly. Plus, you’ll gain another advocate in the process.

Once your meeting is complete, send an email to the associate’s thanking them for their participation in the process, meeting deadlines and for showing their support. Never underestimate the power of simply saying thank you.

Relax, Reflect. It’s Almost Over. Review your process. What went wrong, what went right? Did you receive any feedback for improvement? Have you solicited feedback from the employees and/or your Executive Team? Take the time to reflect on the process. Re-adjust, and then tweak the process.

In closing, recognize that the Open Enrollment process is an evolutionary process. It will change every year. Strive to make the process better. Have you asked yourself, how can we make this process better? When you have made the necessary adjustments to your process, be sure to schedule a follow-up meeting with your Executive to review the process and to demonstrate that you have taken the time to make the necessary adjustments toward improving the process next year.

Open Enrollment Part I – Administrative Considerations

1 Oct

Plan A Plan B

This guest blog post is courtesy of Robin Rothman, Sage Product Marketing Manager.  She has over 25 years in Human Resources Management and Director roles.  She is an expert in the areas of: Associate Relations, Compensation, Affirmative Action, Recruitment, Legal Compliance, Training and Development, HRIS and Employee Benefits. 

Open enrollment is the period of time each year in which eligible employees may enroll in your health plan. Typically a couple of months prior to the new plan year, employees review your benefit offerings and decide which benefits they will select. Some plans may remain the same from year to year, with adjustments for any changes in the law, while other plans may feature significant and/or new benefits. Much of what is offered is up to the employer. Health plan options include traditional medical coverage, but may also include ancillary health benefits, such as Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Arrangements, Dental, Vision, Health and Wellness Programs, Employee Assistance Programs, Life and Long Term Disability Insurances.
There are so many components to an Open Enrollment Process. The information below will provide you with some points you may want to consider incorporating into your Open Enrollment process.

Planning the Administrative Pieces of the Process
Create folders and/or presentation material to house the hard-copy information that you will be providing to the employees. The presentation material should remain continuous from year to year so the employee’s and/or their significant others can easily identify the material for their reference. It’s like creating your internal benefit brand. Have fun with this step. It’s your chance to be creative. If you’re not a creative person, no worries…enlist the help of someone within your company. It’s ok to sometimes step outside of the box; especially when it comes to creatively finding ways to engage your employees in material that can sometimes be viewed as complex or unexciting.

Next, prepare your employee census. This typically contains items such as name, address, ssn, home zip codes etc. This will be particularly helpful especially if you utilize the services of a broker or direct carrier. Use your HRIS to create reports and queries. If you’ve used reports the previous year, update all report headings with the current year/new dates for Open Enrollment. Accidentally reviewing reports with inaccurate dates could become very confusing to you and for anyone else who will need to review your reports throughout the process.

Schedule a meeting with your insurance provider and/or broker to begin the plan selection process. This should be completed as early as possible to enable enough time to ensure your selection fits within your employer’s budget. Review benchmarking survey reports to get an accurate picture of what other businesses within your industry are offering to ensure you remain competitive in attracting and retaining top talent. Retaining these surveys for later review will help to ensure your employee’s and your Executive management have some comfort level in knowing that you have taken the necessary steps to ensure their benefit dollars have been spent wisely.

If there are ancillary benefits where the contract dates are expiring, (such as Dental or Vision), contact these providers to obtain any price increase information that could impact your budget. At this time, they may provide you with new offerings that should be considered as well. If you are working with a broker, a reminder email to the broker well in advance of the process will be mutually beneficial.

Pre-order hard copy materials as far in advance as possible to ensure that you will have what you need when you need it. This would include presentation folders, pens, paper etc. In doing this, you avoid any last minute scramble in the event these items are on back order with the vendor or are unavailable because they have been discontinued.
Labels for presentation materials should be printed and reviewed for accuracy (i.e.; name spelling, department location etc.). This is a great time to ensure the accuracy of your database for basic items that are sometimes overlooked.

Reserve time with the Information Technology resources you may need for system/plan program changes. Department leads appreciate your pro-activity in helping them manage the resources you need. Reserve time with any external resources you need with your vendor for plan and/or program changes. It is advisable to estimate a little more time than you actually need due to the nature of unforeseen system issues that could arise. Accurately budgeting for external Technology resources should become a part of your pre-process each year.

In the next blog installment, we’ll provide you with some items to consider in preparation of budgeting and/or Executive review.