Insight by Econsys

How agencies can improve retirement benefits calculations for federal employees

This content is sponsored by Econsys

Federal HR retirement specialists are using legacy systems and manual processes for a lot of the retirement benefits calculations they perform for federal employees, resulting in increased challenges as they try to meet an expansive workload.

The number of federal employees who can apply for retirement continues to skyrocket, with more than 30% of the federal workforce now eligible. While the retirement wave has yet to manifest, with the numbers remaining consistently around or below 100,000 retirements per year in the last half decade, the demand is still high, and the potential for a surge is ever present.

All of this works against the HR retirement specialists who oversee the process, made more challenging by the number of tasks that must be completed and the tools with which to complete them. Let’s take a closer look at what agencies can do to improve this process and provide additional free time for their HR staff.

Inefficiencies in Existing Systems

The current tools available to many HR retirement specialists are inefficient and time intensive, requiring significantly more manual effort than other solutions. Some of these issues include:

  • Rekeying data to fix records errors – Legacy systems might require specialists to rekey entire service histories when an error is identified. Incorrectly filed personnel actions can lead to hours of additional work.
  • A high risk of inaccuracy with manual entry – With all of that manual entry, there’s an increased risk that new errors are made on the final application that impact the employee.
  • Communications gaps with employees – These older systems rely heavily on specialists to manage communications with employees, answering questions, providing resources and training, and following up.
  • Redundancy in form completions – Older systems may require specialists to reenter the same data on multiple forms, increasing the average time for each application.

Because of these issues, it can take as much as four times longer for a retirement specialist to complete a single retirement application, when compared to the use of more robust technology.

Improving the Retirement Benefits Calculation Process

To address these issues, retirement specialists need a more flexible solution designed for federal use. Not only should these tools help specialists process retirement applications; they should provide valuable insights to employees who are making important decisions about their future. To meet current industry standards, a retirement calculation tool should:

  • Integrate with finance to ensure records are updated after every pay period and that data is always current when preparing new estimates. This can also provide employees with valuable real-time data in a self-serve portal.
  • Be certified by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for scenario calculations that will cover several different potential situations.
  • Be FedRAMP authorized to protect the personal identifying information of employees in the system.

In addition to meeting these base guidelines, the tool should provide resources to help manage and communicate with employees. An employee self-serve portal can provide benefits information, and resources and tools that address the common questions many employees ask about the retirement application process.

Financial planning, educational tools, and retirement application wizards can help an employee jump in and take control of their end of the process without adding new work to the plate of already busy specialists.

A contact records management system allows HR specialists to provide regular updates to employees and improve the flow of communication throughout the agency. It needs to be configurable as well, allowing federal HR teams to continue using their agency’s unique workflows and reports.

Choosing the Right Retirement Calculation Tools

A modernized retirement calculator offers several important benefits to the specialists who use it. It’s faster, it’s more secure, and it’s designed to improve communication with all parties. As the volume of potential federal employee retirements continues to increase and the workload on specialists rises in turn, it’s important to have a system in place that can meet all of the base requirements, automate key tasks, and save significant amounts of time in the process.

About EconSys

We help federal and state agencies to improve their operational efficiency, make better data-driven decisions, and empower State and Federal Governments to improve the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of HR operations to manage the “Hire-to-Retire” lifecycle. From consulting and staffing services to operational and analytical software, we have continued to add innovative and cost-efficient solutions that foster a highly productive and fulfilled workforce for our federal and state clients since 1990. We offer the industry-leading cloud-based retirement benefits solutions to the Federal Government, serving more than 115 agency offices.