Technology is changing the benefits space rapidly, and implementing and choosing the right automation solutions can be a challenge for HR professionals.

The best place to start is understanding what employees need and want and how to deliver it to them, according to experts gathered at last Wednesday’s “How Automation Will Make HR More Humane” panel hosted by EverythingBenefits in New York City.

“It’s very important to understand the voice of the consumer, whether you’re trying to answer your questions or enrolling people and benefits,” said Tatiana Goldberg, change management lead at Unilever.
In the process of automating HR functions, companies should ask themselves questions like, “Would you like to talk to a machine? Or would you like to talk to a human?” Goldberg said.

“When I need advice, I want to talk to a human, but when I need an answer at 11 p.m. at night, I’d rather talk to the machine and not wait until tomorrow,” she said.

Providing employees with tools that will help them understand and choose benefits for retirement and healthcare is another crucial mission for HR, said Matthew Sydney, CEO of Picwell, adding that many employees, especially those coming out of college, don’t understand the difference.

“They don’t think about their 401(k) separately from their HSA, and while they know they’re different products, they’re not sure how to make those decisions,” he said. “An automation tool can provide support to all aspects of the business, regardless of whether it’s about retirement or recruiting.”

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Evelina Nedlund