Employee benefits software and HR systems – are they the same?

State-of-the-art technology, a sophisticated portal, integrated back office systems, seamless data transfer – surely your HR software can take care of your employee benefits too?

Well no, not necessarily. It’s a common assumption – but one that HR teams should examine closely before sitting back and relaxing. Although HR systems (sometimes referred to as HCM systems) and employee benefits software may look similar, they do quite different things. So how can you tell them apart?

What does an employee benefits platform do?

An employee benefits platform is uniquely focused on the administration of your employee benefits scheme. Because of this, it offers very detailed employee benefits functionality. For example, it will:

  • Give employees a dedicated overview of their employee benefits and level of cover
  • Show the total value of their benefits
  • Show how much they have left in their benefit fund (if you offer this)
  • Allow employees to self-select new benefits or cover levels
  • Seamlessly manage data transfer between your payroll systems, the employee benefits platform itself, and all third-party benefit providers
  • Deliver management information specific to your employee benefit scheme, such as benefit take-up, allowing to maximise your investment by adjusting your offering if needs be
  • Perhaps offer a dedicated employee helpdesk, freeing up more HR time
  • Deliver tailored communications around benefits, to encourage greater awareness and employee engagement
  • Ensure that your employee benefits portal reflects your employer brand in terms of ‘look and feel’.

Some HR software vendors may say that they include employee benefits administration in their package. The reality is that it may not be that extensive, or else be supplied by a third-party provider and ‘badged’ as proprietary.

How do HR systems compare?

Other leading HR system providers make it quite clear that they partner with specialists to deliver a fully integrated HR ecosystem, including employee benefits administration. This is good practice, as they recognise the complexity of the functionality their clients need. They are also completely transparent about delivering it through a network of partners.

For example, CIPHR is a leading provider of HR, recruitment and learning software, but its system doesn’t include employee benefits functionality. Instead, it has teamed up with PES to offer happypeople, a ‘best-of-breed’ employee benefits solution which is integrated with CIPHR’s HR software.

Broadly speaking, an HR system is likely to deliver key HR functions across the employee lifecycle, including:

  • People management
  • Employee self-service, including holidays, absence and personal information
  • Recruitment – from promoting a vacancy to onboarding
  • Performance management, including appraisals, objectives setting and succession planning
  • Learning management
  • Strategic management information, analytics and dashboards

A good HR system should also:

  • Be easily accessible via mobile devices
  • Have an intuitive layout and customisable look and feel
  • Be able to integrate with third-party systems such as payroll and finance systems, to improve data accuracy and security
  • Support better organisation-wide communication

Yes, there are some commonalities between HR software and employee benefits technology – such as an employee- and employer-facing portal, communications tools, data transfer, and management information – but each system focuses on very different issues.

Don’t cut corners – choose a full employee benefits solution

The truth is, there are few – if any – HR systems offering the level of employee benefits administration a busy HR team needs. Ultimately, you’ll save time, money and heartache if you choose an employee benefits software provider who can deliver a comprehensive, fully-serviced solution.

HR software can clearly revolutionise the HR function. But your employee benefits software should work just as hard to attract, engage and enthuse your employees. If it integrates seamlessly into your HR system, so much the better.

About PES and happypeople

happypeople from PES is an employee benefits platform that lives up to its name. We provide employee benefits expertise, broking skills, technical know-how and outstanding customer service. Perfect for organisations with up to 1,500 employees.

Looking for complementary HR, wellbeing or financial services? We offer those too. Contact us to find out more. Call us on 01454 808658, email us at hello@wearepes.co.uk or fill in our enquiry form.