The number of employees using at least some Web-based benefits enrollment programs has increased 165% in the past 5 years, according to Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.

Guardian, New York, says the shift to the Web has reduced the amount of paper used during the benefits enrollment season and also increased efficiency.

“If the trends that we are seeing continue, the workplace of the future might be paperless, at least as it pertains to employee benefits,” Elena Wu, a Guardian marketing executive, says in a statement about the findings. “And we’re talking 10 or 20 years into the future, not a half-century from now.”

Guardian surveyed companies using the Guardian Anytime system and other paperless technology and found the following:

- By the end of 2009, 56% of Guardian Anytime plan holders were receiving electronic bills.

- When employers adopted electronic billing, they cut printing and mailing costs 25%.

- 40% of employees enrolled only by computer, up from 12% 5 years ago.

- 36% of employees used paper-only enrollment, down from 58% 5 years ago

- 61% used a computer-based enrollment system during some part of their employee benefits enrollment.

Among the 61% of full-time employees who used computer-based enrollment for some portion of their benefits enrollment, 92% cited convenience as one of the main reasons, and 67% cited environmental concerns.

About 75% of the women who participated in the survey cited environmental concerns, compared with 61% of the men.