How to propel your global benefits in the ever-evolving world of work03.06.21
Global Benefits Director
The benefits industry is an ever-changing place, but the last year has been particularly turbulent. Employers have faced increasing levels of administration, tackled the move to homeworking, and continue the day-to-day job of looking after reward and benefits. While this instability isn’t likely to settle for some time, we are now seeing organisations looking ahead, and thinking about growth post-Covid.
But, before we can look at that, we need to consider the biggest challenge organisations face: are their current benefits fit for purpose anymore? Moreover, where do they fit in a global market?
A constant evolution
Every day I hear from customers about how their benefits goals have changed over the last year – what employees needed from benefits in 2019 isn’t the same as what they’re looking for today, and what trends we were seeing even six months ago are now out of date. Widespread remote working caused by Covid-19 has meant businesses must support more remote employees than ever, but this does provide an opportunity for global growth. For organisations waiting for ‘the perfect time’ to take their benefits platform international, the waiting is over.
When it comes to what benefits you have in place where, it can vary hugely between countries. At Benefex, we have a method called the simple-to-complex model – a scale which allows organisations to scale up or down their benefits structures, based on the requirements and complexity of respective benefits markets and employee populations.
Technology enhancements mean you can deliver the appropriate model for all countries through one system
For example, on the simple end we have locations like the Nordics or parts of Asian and Latin America, where there isn’t a huge variety of benefits. Some may be mandatory benefits or state systems, which don’t need a complex technology solution to run – here, the challenge may be something different. With a flexible online platform, you should be able to scale down your benefits complexity while keeping room for focus on other areas, such as communication or engagement.
At the other end of the scale, we have a complex benefits provision – for example, the UK, Singapore, or the USA, where you have huge choice among benefits. There may be options for employees to make their own selections or upgrade them, such as pension contributions, adding dependants to a healthcare plan etc. Here, you need a platform which is flexible to vary between countries, but intelligent enough to deal with the complexity of benefits rules and regulations – without putting pressure on your HR or reward teams in this territory more than their counterparts from a ‘simple’ country.
A common misconception is that rolling out benefits globally will be far more complicated than a local region, but you may find your locations fall anywhere between simple and complex, so don’t be put off. In fact, of most countries around the world, very few are complex. Many of our customers begin with benefits rollout in the UK – one of the most complex countries we see, so you may have already done the hardest part.
In the new world of work, employees need choice. Choice within benefits provisions starts more on the complex side of the scale, where your people can tailor their benefits selection – and even coverage with those benefits – to their lifestyle. While this isn’t new as a concept, as the world goes back to ‘normal’ and we see increases in hybrid working, it’s the perfect time to focus on employee choice. After months of having everyday choices restricted, people are looking to take control and plan for the future.
Brick-and-mortar benefits, such as gym memberships, need to shift to a style of benefit which will work for everyone. For employees who remain working from home, or decide on a hybrid working pattern, benefits which were once in-person need to move online or offer more choice – for gym memberships, this could be in the form of online classes, sports equipment funds, or a flexible membership.
Technology is on your side
It goes without saying, but your technology must be globally functional. Better still, it must be scalable. Luckily, technology has caught up with us, so launching benefits globally is nowhere near as complicated as it once was. Gone are the days of siloed local offices – you can now deliver your benefits through one system, and factor in the right approach for individual countries.
One factor which remains daunting is data. A few years ago, to implement benefits globally would require establishing a data interface in each country, as each country had its own systems. Today, we can remove some of that complexity thanks to the likes of global HR data routes – systems like Workday, Oracle, SAP SuccessFactors, which can then feed into your global benefits platform. This change alone has made launching your benefits internationally far more manageable than it once was.
The most overlooked part of your ROI
Another way in which technology and online platforms have revolutionised global benefits is the administrative burden. Regardless of your country-specific goals, gaining time back for your HR, reward, and benefits teams is a huge win, wherever they are.
Since implementing a global benefits platform, our customers have seen as much as a 20hr/week reduction in administration. When you consider this in a global context – factoring in time needed for language barriers, time zone differences, country-specific queries and limited HR resource – the time saved really adds up! Not to mention the employee benefits of a smoother user journey.
Rolling out your benefits on a scale, combined with the accessibility of data systems and the global capabilities of technology developments means it’s easier than ever before to implement global benefits. You don’t have to do everything at once and you don’t have to do it in-house – instead, you can prioritise what is most important to you, and focus on ensuring the best employee experience for your people.
If you’re considering taking your benefits tech globally, we’d be delighted to run a workshop to assess the countries you’re in, look at a potential rollout plan, and explore the ROI you could achieve. Just get in touch!
Building your business case for global benefits tech
Everything you need to make your case and maximise the value of your global benefits plan
Paul joined Benefex from Mercer in 2019 with a wealth of international benefits experience, having worked with a large number of high-profile, multinational clients to review their approach to global talent and reward. He leads Benefex’s global benefits delivery team and he’s doing an excellent job of it, if we may say so ourselves. He is skilled in international risk assessment and management, legislative compliance, trend research, cross-border claims, and customer relationship management. AND, he can speak fluent French, mais oui!