Four steps to improve your global benefits programme


Each year Thomsons surveys HR and reward professionals at organisations from different sectors for its Global Employee Benefits Watch survey. For this year’s report we have also surveyed employees working for large firms around the globe, enabling us to draw out four key steps which could improve your global benefits programme.

1) Develop and implement a global benefits strategy

While globalisation has changed how businesses work, it sometimes feels like most multinationals have only just recently started becoming truly global when it comes to international benefits.

It’s interesting to see 14% of employers report that they currently use global benefits management software, but 56% say that they are planning to do so. In my experience this is the necessary first step for companies wanting to tackle challenges they face around administering and communicating benefits around the world.

Currently multinationals’ top three challenges include difficulty in scaling a local benefits solution globally and difficulties reporting globally on total reward costs. Going forward a global benefits strategy will be absolutely crucial in order to deliver against these challenges.  

2) Communicate the value of your benefits packages

One of the most common things I encounter is companies spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their global benefits programs with cool innovative perks but failing miserably to communicate that value to their employees.

It comes as no surprise to learn that 36.5% of global employers felt one of their top three challenges was the lack of understanding of the value of total reward among their employees. Communicating your benefits packages effectively should be your number one priority if you are concerned about employee engagement levels and retaining your talent.

Our research found that on average, employees without a total reward statement estimate the value of their benefits to be 27.7% of basic pay, but those receiving an online statement perceive that their benefits are worth 49.1%.

Introducing total reward statements can really help educate your employees about the value you place on them. It is important to consider communication across different channels and at different stages - from good old intranet portals - to video and mobile apps to other interactive and innovative media.  

Our research found that where employees report that their employer communicates with them using four or five different tools, 91% agreed that: “I would recommend my employer to a friend” compared with only 66% where none or one communication method was used.

3) Address your global benefits administration challenge

Most benefits teams understand the need to move away from decentralised and manual processes toward tech-centric systems. It explains why 56% of multinationals plan to move to global benefits management software.

However, the majority of companies are still using a combination of tools, spreadsheets and manual labour to administer their global reward programs. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on benefits administrators who have to deal with all the data transfer, paperwork, errors and employee queries.

It’s no surprise that more than a quarter (26.6%) of firms say that they cannot report globally on benefits costs, while a further quarter (24.1%) say that it would take them more than one week to gather the information to do so.

Addressing global benefits administration challenges is not easy, but improvements can be felt immediately by simply removing paper-based processes. Identify where your need is greatest, where your largest effort is spent, where your greatest compliance risk sits, and prioritise these first. And then you’ll have more time to focus on strategic activities and process improvement.

4) Start making strategic data-driven decisions

Businesses and C-level executives are increasingly turning to HR to provide ROI and attract, retain and engage critical talent to secure competitive advantage and drive global business growth.

At the same time, the majority of global executives doubt that HR leaders are able to demonstrate tangible correlations between HR initiatives and business outcomes. Indeed, according to our research only 14.5% strongly agree that they have accurate global cost data and of those that can report on global benefits costs half (50%) say that their benefits strategy is “very much aligned” with business strategy, compared to only 15.3% of those who cannot report on global benefits costs.

Therefore, systems enabling HR to access global benefits data that is consistent, accurate, and up-to-date will be very high on the priority list in the 2017. 

To top it off, those not using benefits analytics (and not planning to) - reported their employee engagement score at 59.5%, whereas those using benefits analytics for improving and reporting on benefits packages reported their score as 73.5%. I would like to see more multinationals introducing technology that will allow global benefits teams to deliver global reporting and make strategic data-driven decisions.

To find out more about data driven decisions, and how to prepare for these changes Thomsons is running a webinar on /15th November ‘Analytics: how top employers are getting ahead in global benefits’.

For more on the Global Employee Benefits Watch 2016/17 report download it now.

This article was written by Chris Bruce, managing director and co-founder of Thomsons Online Benefits.

This article was provided by Thomsons Online Benefits.


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