NEW YORK, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The past five years have witnessed a 165% growth rate in the proportion of employees that use some combination of Web-based technology to enroll in their benefits, thus reducing the high volume of paper used during the benefits enrollment season according to a new study from The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian). The study, Benefits & Behavior: Spotlight on Technology and Enrollment sheds light on a larger trend of technology and Internet usage contributing to paper reduction and operating efficiencies in the workplace.
"If the trends that we are seeing continue the workplace of the future might be paperless, at least as it pertains to employee benefits," said Elena Wu, Group Marketing and Worksite Officer, Guardian. "And we're talking ten or twenty years into the future, not a half-century from now. In just a short period of time we've already seen a dramatic shift toward the use of paperless technology to manage workplace benefits. This technology is most popular with younger employees, but surprisingly mature workers also embrace online access to their benefits."
Guardian has responded to this trend with major investments in Web-based and paperless technology such as its Guardian Anytime tool designed to give employers a one-stop resource for benefits administration and employees greater control and 24/7 access to their benefits. An online demo of Guardian Anytime can be found at http://www.guardianwebtour.com.
The company reports the following operating efficiencies from the use of Guardian Anytime and other paperless technology:
- By the end of 2009, 56% of Guardian Anytime planholders were receiving electronic bills versus paper (a 500% increase in electronic bills). Guardian expects to see an even greater increase in electronic bills in 2010.
- Experienced a 25% reduction in printing and mailing cost for billing statements in 2008 vs. 2009.
- When planholders choose the electronic option, they receive their bills faster, are able to immediately make changes, and even recalculate their bill if necessary. All within their own power, no need to call anyone.
Additional highlights from the study include:
- 40% of employees enrolled via computer-only versus 12% five years ago
- 36% used paper only to enroll versus 58% five years ago
- 21% report that they used a combination of paper and computer versus 11% five years ago.
- 61% used computer-based enrollment for some portion of their employee benefits enrollment.
A Convenient Truth
Among the 61% of full-time employees who used computer-based enrollment for some portion of their employee benefits enrollment:
- Most (92%) cite convenience as the top reason that they access their benefits online.
- 87% said online access to benefits saves time and 73% said it gives them more control.
- While not the top choice, the environment was mentioned by 67% of employees as an important reason for accessing their benefits online.
- Women (75%) were significantly more likely than men (61%) to value the environmental benefits of online enrollment.
"Convenience should be the headline when employers are encouraging employees to transition to online benefits access," added Wu. "Once you establish advantages of online access such as saving time, improving service and giving employees more control, it is then an important bonus if you are helping the environment. The one exception might be with employers that have a largely female workforce. Women are more likely to factor the environment into their decision to use the Internet. Consequently environmental concerns can be placed front and center when reaching out to women."
Experience Mitigates Privacy Concerns
The movement toward online enrollment is likely part of a larger trend where employees are becoming more accustomed to using the Internet to manage their finances.
- 63% reported that they paid their monthly bills using online banking. This virtually equaled the percentage of employees (61%) that report using computer-based enrollment for some portion of their employee benefits enrollment during their last benefits enrollment period.
- Men are significantly more likely to bank online with 69% of men vs. 55% of women.
Those under the age of 45 are significantly more likely to use online banking to pay their bills.
- Answered "yes" when asked if they pay their monthly bills online
- 77% aged 18 to 34
- 71% aged 35 to 44
- 53% aged 45 to 54
- 40% aged 55+
"Online banking has been around for more than a decade now and employees, particularly those from Gen X and Y appear to be increasingly comfortable with managing confidential information online," said Wu. "This is relevant to the issue of electronic health records and healthcare reform. Privacy is often cited as one of the barriers to storing private health information in a Web-based environment. Our research shows that most employees and employers have already embraced using the Internet to manage highly confidential information."
About the Survey
Benefits & Behavior: Spotlight on Technology and Enrollment presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,015 adults comprising 504 men and 511 women, 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. The results reported above were asked among the 342 full-time employed respondents, of whom 186 were men and 156 were women. The interviews were conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, N.J. from February 4-7, 2010. Results from this survey have a margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level among the total sample and +/-5.3 percentage points among the full-time employed respondents.
A mutual insurer founded in 1860, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and its subsidiaries are committed to protecting individuals, business owners and their employees with life, long term care insurance, disability income, group medical and dental insurance products, and offer 401(k), annuities and other financial products. Guardian operates one of the largest dental networks in the United States, and protects more than six million employees and their families at 120,000 companies. The company has more than 5,400 employees in the United States and a network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 80 agencies nationwide.
For more information about Guardian, please visit: www.GuardianLife.com
SOURCE The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America