Employers need to go back to basics and look at the structure of the benefits they offer and determine if it must be changed or stepped up. Now is the time to do it.

Steps employers can take to future-proof benefits

For employers with international offices or mobile employees, the wider benefits strategy must match the wider HR and Benefits strategy, corporate objectives as well as workforce demographics. Any required local changes must be assessed as well.
The Health & Benefits being offered must ideally reflect changing working patterns, age differences in the workforce, as well as individual country requirements affecting mobile employees, expatriates, and teams in international offices.

Do Health & Benefits really matter to an employee?

Absolutely yes, but with different emphasis. A recent report by edays showed that 75% of employees are more likely to stay with their employers because of a great Health & Benefits programme. Considering a new political world order, employee cross-border migration and decreased standards of living, employers need to recognise that their Health & Benefits, together with corporate culture, are ways to differentiate themselves, to compete for talent, retain staff and better engage their workforce.
At the same time, employers need to keep in mind that the success of any benefits programme largely depends on benefits being tailored to the needs of a diverse workforce.
As no workforce is the same, benefits that matter to one group of employees may not matter to another. Millennials for instance may be most concerned about the debt they have to pay; older employees will focus more on whether they have enough for their pension. TeamStage reported that millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce by 2025.
Employers are challenged to find new and innovative ways to engage this group of employees, while making sure the Health & Benefits they offer cater for the needs of the entire workforce – a huge challenge for HR. A sustainable Health & Benefits programme that is fit for purpose will be an asset for the success of the business.

Is remote and flexible working here to stay?

Yes, and no. I am rarely one to sit on the fence but in this case, it is not a simple answer. Adding more flexibility to the way we work will enable employees to create the work-life harmony that works best for them.
Nevertheless, we cannot work remotely in every sector. Remote and flexible working models thus need to be well-managed. No doubt, the move towards remote working has presented employers with a new opportunity to address the needs of a multi-generational workforce, but it has also created a huge challenge and in some sectors a move away from “tradition” where employees came to the office every day and were “present” to a new way of working, sometimes not just from their home, the coffee shop, library, or on a beach.
We are faced with up to five different generations of employees in the workforce: from those in their 20s to those who are still working into their 70s and beyond. As a result, HR teams have been reviewing their long-term approach to flexible working and related policies. Talking with many HR leaders, it has become clear more flexible Health & Benefits strategies could help employers retain their ageing workforce and attract new talents.

What role can an adviser play?

The first step is for employers to better understand their working environment, culture and people. Culture plays a key role. It provides employees with a solid foundation, helps build trust and a safe working environment. Besides that, employers have started to recognise that the value of an effective Health & Benefits offering goes far beyond the traditional objective of recruitment and retention. It also goes far beyond traditional insured benefits, rather it focuses on wellbeing, flexible leave policies as well as wider fringe or lifestyle benefits.
The right benefits strategy, a clear direction as well as practical solutions, will help employers attract the best people and look after the needs of their workforce. Health & Benefits will become more employee-led. More and more employees are wanting to select the benefits that suit them, meaning employers need a multilevel benefit system where people can pick and choose – hence the need for the right technology and digital solutions.
Globally, we are all feeling the financial squeeze on our income. Now, more than ever, employers need both support and sophisticated solutions, coupled with expert and professional advice to ensure they have the right benefits, strategy, and direction in place to meet the changing needs of their employees and business.
Employers are already looking beyond insured benefits at other factors which are fast becoming part of the wider HR and organisational strategy. Factors that impact decisions concerning benefits design and strategy, such as: ESG (climate, DE&I and Governance), alignment of benefits with corporate objectives, employee value proposition and achieving work-life harmony across their domestic and international workforce.
The time is now for employers to invest their benefit budgets wisely and in areas where the impact will be felt most! A one-size-fits-all Health & Benefits package is no longer appropriate, presenting HR with one of their biggest challenges!

The article is written by Adam Riley.

Preslava Gencheva joins GrECo

Preslava Gencheva

Deputy Group Practice Leader Health & Benefits

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