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August 09, 2001
Online Benefit Enrollment Is Doubling
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ew survey shows a dramatic jump in the number of companies offering employees online access for annual benefit enrollment, family status changes, employment events, personal and 401(k) changes, as well as 401(k) loan modeling.

Towers Perrin's 2001 HR Service Center Survey found that more than 60 percent of respondents will allow employees to complete their benefit enrollment online in 2001, more than double the percentage reported in 2000.

Similar increases were seen for personal HR data changes (43 percent in 2001 vs. 21 percent in 2000) and 401(k) allocation changes (80 percent in 2001 vs. 58 percent in 2000).

HR expands intranet access

Greater employee access to an HR intranet via the Web is one reason companies are implementing self-service transactions. In 2001, employee access to the HR Intranet at work grew 10 percent.

Despite a startling 58 percent jump in employee access to an HR intranet at home, most employees still do not have access from home, most often because of security concerns. A brief follow-up survey to determine why "at-home" access increased so dramatically among responding companies revealed that more companies (69 percent) are relying on network security and allowing employees to dial in directly via the network to access the intranet.

Another, perhaps more compelling, reason for companies increasing their access to the Web is the increase in timeliness and accuracy, along with a reduction in workload. More than 75 percent of the survey respondents reported that annual benefit enrollment transactions online are more accurate, as are new hire enrollment (73 percent), family status changes (73 percent), employment events (50 percent), and personal changes (80 percent).

"The reality of HR self-service on the Web is finally catching up with the hype and promises that we've been hearing over the past few years," said Tom Keebler, a Towers Perrin principal and co-author of the survey.

Towers Perrin, a worldwide HR consulting firm, conducted the HR Service Center Survey in the first quarter of 2001. The survey, in its fourth year, covers a broad range of in-house HR service center data, including scope of services, staffing, training, technology, metrics and self-service.

To better study the changing HR service center environment, the 2001 survey also looked at HR self-service application strategies. Most of the 100 companies that participated are Fortune 500 companies, and respondents were most often HR service center managers and/or IT managers.
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