Online solutions Featured

10:19am EDT March 23, 2005
Companies large and small tackle challenges concerning the rising costs of providing health care benefits for their employees. Business owners are seeking alternative options through the Internet and online services.

In fact, one online provider claims that employers spend annually more than $750 per employee to administer and communicate employee benefits. Computer-based programs offer advantages to employers and employees and, in many cases, these online services supplement traditional human resource functions.

Online informational programs

Employees demand instant access to employee benefits information. When this information is available on a computer, at the work place or at home, employees are more aware and can better appreciate their employers' sponsored benefits. Companies can create customized Web sites that contain their name, logo, message and benefit information.

Business owners realize savings by offering up-to-date benefit information on a secure, current site, which cuts the cost of duplicating and distributing print information, streamlining paper flow. In turn, employees enjoy 24/7 access to information, which they can view privately and confidentially.

To add value to benefits Web sites, employers can collaborate with organizations that provide health care information, including extensive databases that list health and human services, physicians, dentists and other health care providers. Companies can link their custom benefits sites to these useful resources.

Businesses also can create links to their insurance carriers. The employee gains access to local resources with a simple visit to the employer's online benefit site. This 24-hour, online access reduces the human resource department's expenses and involvement in benefits administration.

Online assistance programs

As business owners strive to increase productivity levels, they realize they must help employees cope more effectively with problems in the workplace and at home. Personal problems can affect an employee's job performance.

By helping employees resolve problems in a timely, sensitive manner, employers smooth out workplace tension that can counter company efficiency. Most employees will accept assistance if employers address the problem in a private, confidential manner without compromising the worker's job security or relationship with co-workers or supervisors.

The solution: Companies now can access self-administered programs for employees. These easy-to-use decision trees lead an employee through a series of questions on selected problem areas. The program produces a summary of the situation and a list of expert resources.

Employees can contact these professionals and resolve their problems without interference from company supervisors. Besides maintaining an open-door policy, these resources provide additional assistance for employees.

Online solutions

Businesses looking for support with human resources can find help, free of charge, on the Net. Some offer online databases of thousands of service programs for employers and employees to access confidentially.

Additionally, companies seeking a Web-based problem solver can also find online tools that allow employees to answer a series of questions to identify troubling issues. One local project was developed with local businesses and human resource experts and found the following types of problems commonplace to many who work and which can be distractions: transportation, job skills, workplace concerns, personal concerns, and child care and adult care concerns.

When employers and employees partner, difficult situations can be successfully resolved, using today's technology. Online access makes finding solutions easier for both parties.

Jessica Galardini is COO of the Chambers of Commerce Service Corporation and Executive Vice President and COO of HRH Affinity Marketing Group. Reach her at (412) 456-7012.