A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

Benefits Administration Made Easy

I had the pleasure of attending Day 1 of the Alaska State SHRM Conference yesterday. I was a speaker for a concurrent session on Social Media but had time to attend a session or two and meet with some awesome vendors/exhibitors while I was there.


I love Ceridian.

Ceridian is a company dedicated to managing all your employee data.  Using transformative Cloud-based SAAS technology, Ceridian delivers a wide range of solutions including managing human resources, payroll, workforce management, recruiting, tax, benefits, payment solutions, employee assistance and wellness programs. I like Ceridian for a variety of reasons but here are the top two. Ceridian has come a long way…it is definitely a company who is improving its product and services exponentially based on customer needs and value. The second reason is Ceridian’s staff…at least the ones I’ve met. They know their product, they know their vulnerabilities, they know their customers and, as an added bonus, they LISTEN to them. What a novel concept!  Listen to your customers and see how your product/services can help or be adapted to them instead of simply saying “here’s what we offer…how can you adapt to us?”


I also like The Wilson Agency.

The Wilson Agency is a locally owned and operated Benefits Brokerage Firm who happens to be celebrating their 50th year in 2014! The Wilson Agency provides strategic advice, education, advocacy and communication services to supplement the “brokering” that a typical firm would offer. What makes The Wilson Agency special in my opinion is that it KNOWS small business because it IS a small business. Many other brokerage firms in this state are part of a larger organization and perhaps this causes them to lose sight of the “small business realities” affecting the majority of Alaska businesses.


I digress…there I was, visiting with the fine folks of Ceridian when a session was beginning to start…a session in which an Advisor from The Wilson Agency was the speaker…so of course I decided to attend.

K. Michael Ward, SPHR, GPHR was speaking on Benefits Administration…particularly, an employer’s strategy, design and execution.

I can’t begin to share her full message but I quickly drew inferences about how a company like Ceridian could help an employer with developing its benefits strategy and executing that plan well.

Michael stressed that employers, regardless of their size, need to thoroughly evaluate their current benefits program – not just the costs of the program but the utilization and workforce satisfaction of the current plan. She suggested that employers identify if there is buy-in from leadership to propose changes, if there would be acceptance from the workforce if changes were to occur, etc. And finally, she spoke of the need to forecast future needs based on basic workforce demographic data and trending healthcare issues.

I’ve never done benefits administration and so what struck me in Michael’s presentation is how overwhelming this responsibility may be to a typical HR Practitioner and/or how confusing this information may be to a Manager or member of a leadership team. Certainly a good Broker (and Michael is one!) could be of assistance when it comes to advising on what the data means. However, prior to that, I think an employer would benefit from having good data in the first place and contemplating it beforehand or, better yet, in “real time” throughout the benefit year.

That’s where Ceridian comes in.

Dayforce Benefits, part of the Cloud-based Dayforce HCM solution, serves as an always online tool to educate employees and promote the utilization of both health and wellness benefits. It can do this not only during open enrollment periods but throughout the benefit year. (This, by the way, is something Michael referred to as IMPERATIVE to ensure satisfaction of a benefits program).

Dayforce Benefits also serves to “educate” Managers or HR Practitioners on what the utilization of benefits may mean. Dayforce Benefits’ embedded analytics can easily break down utilization in layman’s terms and can easily help the user forecast future needs or adaptations.

Michael talked about how the benefits/wellness environment is ever changing, more so in the last few years than it has in previous years. She spoke of difficulties – the oftentimes herculean effort – in changing benefit programs. Not only does the workforce struggle with change but sometimes the data management system needs to be totally reconfigured, which can be a nightmare as well.


Ceridian has solved both of these problems.

Dayforce HCM provides easy reports and information to the workforce about their own utilization, offers comparison to previous plans/costs/etc., and has the ability to add educational videos or materials to help the workforce “transition” to the change, thus helping manage a more realistic perception. Dayforce Benefits takes the nightmare out of plan configuration by ensuring changes, even herculean ones, are easy to load into the system.

Michael spoke about compliance issues in both designing a benefits program as well as executing changes to such. Her exact words were “fear of compliance issues” may be “driving the bus” – meaning compliance difficulties and challenges may influencing value added decisions about an employer’s benefit program. I spoke with the folks at Ceridian after the session and learned that Dayforce Benefits takes care of much of the compliance headaches and challenges as well. Its reporting capabilities, its educational components, its triggers/alerts, etc. will ensure that the employer’s Is are dotted and Ts are crossed. In a nutshell, Ceridian accepts the burden on what needs to be communicated, what needs to be documented, what needs to be reported, etc.


Listening to Michael’s presentation didn’t make me want to change careers and jump into the benefits administration speciality but it did spark my interest in the challenges that await HR Practitioners in this arena. My job, of course, is to help HR practitioners develop their expertise and prepare for success in any HR program and therefore, Michael’s presentation highlighted my need to learn more about the benefits environment.

Finally, if I am to be a good HR Consultant, I need to ensure I offer ideas and tools to my clients to help make their job easier, to help make them perform better, and to help increase their value to the organization. My discussions with the folks at Ceridian validated that Dayforce Benefits, and the other components of the Dayforce HCM, are tools that can and should be explored.


Benefits AdministrationBottom LineCeridianCommunicationsEmployee BenefitsEmploymentHCMHuman ResourcesRole of HRThe Wilson Agency

Heather Kinzie • May 13, 2014

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