As an employer, there are few things as frustrating as spending a lot of time or money on something that ends up going unused--whether it's a high-tech office machine, a development program, or even a company-wide picnic.

The same goes for your employee benefits system. If you've currently got a benefits system that primarily goes unused or doesn't offer features that allow your staff to track, input, or interact in any way, it's time to find a new system.

What's the secret to a winning benefits system? It's simple: design and mobility.

What to Look for in a Benefits System

In the growing world of smartphones, users expect (and only have patience for) the quickest solutions possible. What's more, they don't care that the world of benefits is more complicated than selecting a movie on Netflix--they want their health apps to be just as simple to use and understand.

There are a few key design features that make a benefits system more appealing and functional for users. Focus on these three qualities when selecting a new platform for your employees:

  1. Simplicity: The single most important thing is a simple layout and design. A website can have the most pertinent information or top-of-the-line features, but all that is worthless if users can't make sense of it. Check that the program isn't hampered by disorganized information or a badly designed UI, which can complicate deciphering and navigating the material.
  1. Mobility: For your employees to really get the most out of a benefits system, it should have some sort of mobile capability, like a health and wellness mobile app or a benefits guidebook that's accessible from any device. Your users are much more likely to look something up or interact with a program on their tablets or smartphones when they have spare time than spend any extra time sitting at their desk.
  1. User-friendly: A well-designed benefits system will not only look nice but also be intuitively functional. It will have clean layouts, be easy to navigate, and encourage user interaction. Another major aspect to look for is speed. Users have no tolerance for slow-moving, low-performing interfaces, so ensure that the site is adequately up to speed before you commit.

Things to Avoid in a Benefits System

Design should never be an afterthought of a system--it should make your employees want to take an active role with their benefits. And it's important to remember that not all websites, mobile apps, and benefits systems are created equal. Avoid the stinkers by watching out for these flaws:

  1. Appearance over function: It doesn't matter how pretty, flashy, or entertaining a system is if it's frustrating or impossible to use. Don't get sucked in by the over-the-top graphics--what matters most is functionality.
  1. Not mobile-compatible: Consumers use their phones and tablets to do everything from entertaining themselves to reading books to paying bills to even scheduling appointments, so it only makes sense that they would want a benefits system that they can access on something other than a work computer. If a system doesn't include some sort of mobile interaction or app, it won't get much use.
  1. Bad user experience: The offering of a mobile-compatible feature isn't the only thing you should look out for; apps or features should ideally be easy to use on a small phone or tablet. If typing is cumbersome, buttons are too small or too close together, or functions can't be completed with only one hand, it wasn't designed with users in mind.

Instead of throwing money away on a generic benefits system, explore your options and find one that's designed with the most important people in mind: your employees. Find a system that's simple, user-friendly, and mobile, and you'll find your employees more involved in their benefits and yourself at ease, knowing your money was well spent.