Top insights into building a future-proofed global benefits strategy

The last 12 months have shown that, even with the hardiest plan, nothing is quite future-proof. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how you can make your benefits strategy as future-proof as possible.

Top insights into building a future-proofed global benefits strategy

Begin with where you are

Before even thinking about future-proofing, you’ll need to have audited and benchmarked to ensure that your total reward package, including benefits and recognition, are competitive. It’s also crucial that you are taking into consideration the local nuances from country to country. There’s little point in a well-prepared global strategy if it starts off unbalanced.

Your next step is to manage those benefits, both on an ongoing basis (ensuring they remain competitive), and long-term; ensuring they’re relevant to your employees for the foreseeable future. The second part is vital. It can be easy to simply assume the most valuable benefits, or those with the most longevity, are the most expensive. However, I have seen in many cases that the benefits valued by employees have not always been expensive; often those most appreciated are the ones that are relevant to employees on a day-to-day basis. Pre-Covid, these may have been transport or parking allowances, lunch vouchers or savings accounts to help with lifestyle purchases. Today, this may be a small wellness or lifestyle allowance that, during the pandemic, has been used to make working from home easier.

From our research, one thing has been very clear: the benefits that employees need have changed during the pandemic, and so have the benefits employers are providing. How companies have adapted to this has varied depending on where in the world they have their workforce. The challenge now is how we use this to ensure that the benefits are ready for what we may face in the future.

Strategic goals

First, don’t get bogged down in the nitty-gritty detail of each benefit in every location – that soon becomes overwhelming! By setting broad strategic goals, you can use these as your objectives and adapt them to fit each location, aligning with the differing approach to benefits. This will work even in unprecedented times.

There is also a balance between ensuring that those locations with low headcounts are not forgotten compared to the demanding high numbers elsewhere. By applying a broad range of principles to all your locations, you can ensure your benefits are relevant and adaptable to future changes.

For example, your approach could be to make sure that all employees’ families have adequate protection in the event of serious illness, injury or death. The provision there would be life, accident and disability, to cover where there is not adequate state cover. A second objective could be to provide wellbeing support to employees – part of that currently could be adapted to a Covid-related support benefit.

Continuous review

Without doubt, benefits need a continuous review as part of their management. The standard way would be to benchmark every few years, however there is an alternative and more accurate option.

An online benefits platform can help monitor and even help manage your global benefits strategy across your various locations. The data at your fingertips gives insight into your benefits at a top organisational-wide level, or by individual countries. By analysing this you can make decisions on how the benefits are performing, and then make the changes that are necessary to ensure that they either remain popular or become more relevant to employees.

With this insight, you can also justify any future decisions and changes to the strategy as they are backed up with data. This is especially valuable in the current financial climate where we find an increased need for benefits to show their value and earn their keep!

Benefit strategy communication

Communicating to employees about their benefits is the lynchpin of success for your benefits strategy, complementing the analysis. You may have the best benefits package in your sector but that won’t mean anything unless your employees know about it.

Naturally, the ideal position is having a benefits platform hosting both the overall strategy and the benefits applicable to an individual employee. Thus, the site acts as a continuous signposting and information hub for both aspects. Often this can function as somewhere employees can go regularly, as-and-when they need anything benefits-related. Even better is if the platform can tie in with a communications system, allowing you to use it to communicate by location, office and even levels of employees – with little of the heavy lifting that you would normally need to carry out.

Furthermore, when there are changes or when unforeseen events happen, communicating the benefits and support available to employees will be both beneficial to them and you as a company in the long run. When the first Covid-19 lockdowns occurred in early 2020, many companies highlighted services like EAP and online health and wellbeing programmes that employees could access, as well as adding others such as virtual GP and even online shopping discount sites.

Outside of the present, communicating why benefits have been reviewed, changed or added – based on feedback and analysis of take-up – shows your employees how valued they are, and increases that engagement, which is the ultimate aim.

Keep in touch with peers

Finally, we like to make use of the connectivity available to us, to remind us all that we are all in it together. Your business peers may be competitors in some ways, but they are also facing the same challenges as you.

We have always been firm believers in sharing thoughts, ideas and tips for the common good. Our advice is to check in on webinars and roundtables even when time is limited, and reach out to those in your industry, to see how we can support one another.

The author is Paul Andrews, global benefits director at Benefex.

This article is provided by Benefex.

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