The Harvard Business Review recently published the results of a study exploring what factors CEOs worry about the most. Unsurprisingly, one of the top three concerns that the study highlighted was the ability to stay in compliance with government regulations. Today's business environment is highly regulated and government oversight is increasing in a number of areas. Employee benefits fall under scrutiny from a range of perspectives, from the Affordable Care Act to guidelines around managing retirement accounts. What steps can companies take to ensure that they stay in compliance and avoid expensive penalties and fines?
Understanding Your Exposure
One of the essential steps that companies need to take is to define their benefits-related compliance risk. Each company's situation is different, as regulations vary by company size, location, and many other factors. A business should start by auditing its benefits programs and determining the areas where specific regulations require them to take action. Mapping exposure can help businesses develop an understanding of the steps needed to mitigate risk.
Create Mechanisms for Updates and Ongoing Consultations
Once the business-critical regulations have been determined, it's possible to take action to address them. Create an actionable checklist for all areas of the business required to monitor these issues, from the core HR team to specific executives. But keep in mind that regulations are often updated, and new regulations are regularly voted into law. As a result, an important aspect of a company's benefits compliance strategy is finding ways to monitor those changes. For example, work with a knowledgeable HR partner or employment attorney who can provide regular briefings on changes that impact internal processes or program selections.
Invest in a Quality Human Capital Management Solution
A human capital management solution and technology infrastructure may provide companies with access to the information they need to stay in compliance. Technology typically assists with compliance in two key ways. The first is by ensuring that it's easy to access information needed for compliance reporting and compliance-driven decision making. The second is by using smart features such as internal limits to notify managers when issues impacting benefits compliance could be a factor; for example, certain aspects of healthcare coverage are determined by how many hours a person works. A time and attendance solution may help managers monitor that information in real time.
Managing the risk of benefits compliance is an important goal of a well-designed human capital management strategy. Audit current programs to understand risk, develop a system to stay apprised of the latest changes, and use the right technology systems to make reporting and compliance as straightforward as possible.