Having a comprehensive global benefits strategy is becoming more popular among multinational organizations. Companies want efficiency, a unified culture and mass customization, says Chris Wakely, senior vice president of EMEA sales at Thomsons Online Benefits.

Also see: Top 5 benefits offered globally

“More organizations are globalizing their systems and processes,” he says. “Ten years ago, you couldn’t have done it.”

That’s because a proper global platform didn’t exist. Thanks to technology, that’s no longer the reality, Wakely says, and organizations are able to centrally administer benefits and communication to their employees.

More than half (51%) of employers have a documented global benefits strategy, according to new Thomsons research released Tuesday. Still, 45% do not have a documented strategy, according to the 2015 Global Employee Benefits Watch, which surveyed more than 300 HR professionals, representing more than 4 million employees. “It’s moving in the right direction, but there are still a lot of businesses who haven’t gotten a grip on this yet,” Wakely says.

Engaging employees with their benefits is a problem — three in 10 employers are struggling to do so — the survey found. “This is a significant challenge for businesses, as some enterprises spend the equivalent of 30% of employees’ salaries on their benefits schemes — making a negative return on this investment likely,” Thomsons says.

Other challenges of a global benefits strategy the study found includes:

• A lack of understanding among employees about the value of their total rewards;

• High levels of administration;

• Difficulty reporting costs;

• Difficulty demonstrating ROI to stakeholders.

Targeted communication needed

A lack of targeted communication in a multigenerational workforce is another issue. Just 13% of organizations use mobile apps to communicate benefits, the study found, and only 5% use social media.

“Businesses cannot underestimate the importance of clear, accessible HR and benefits communications,” says Chris Bruce, founder and managing director of Thomsons. “The demand for high-quality millennials far outstrips supply, meaning the power is now in their hands. It’s imperative that businesses consider their needs alongside all other generations if they are to attract, retain and develop their talent.”

Multinationals compete for the same type of employees, Wakely says. “The competition is as fierce as it’s ever been since 2008,” he says. Benefits are playing a bigger role in attracting talent, Wakely says, and companies must make sure they are properly communicating those benefits. A targeted, digital strategy is key.

“Employees are not going to sit around and negotiate with clumsy interfaces once a year to find out what they can receive from their employer,” Bruce says. “They want HR and benefits systems that are employee centric: intuitive, visually appealing and communicate their options in a way that suits them.”

Global companies appear to be receiving the message — 29% plan to spend more money on benefits technology this year than they did last year, the survey found. Employee-facing portals topped the technology investment list for 55% of organizations.

“The suggestion that employers are reassessing the potential of technology is hugely encouraging, as is the fact that almost half of HR professionals would prefer to roll out benefits management software globally,” Bruce says. “Through doing this, organizations are putting themselves in a stronger position to engage employees across the board, while building a cohesive and universal employer brand.” 

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Employee Benefit Adviser content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access