Retirement is the main area in which companies are accelerating the centralisation of their global decision-making and implementation in the benefits arena, according to research carried out as part of a survey issued by Punter Southall. It shows that the pace of change uncovered highlights the urgency for companies and treasuries with a multinational presence to get to grips with the challenge of upgrading technological platforms, expanding pooling programmes and selecting the best consultants.
The survey of 184 companies, carried out by the benefits network Asinta, found that:
- Improved global human resources information systems and expanded international benefits pooling tops the list of priorities.
- Local information on individual countries was also recognised as critical for executives to establish benchmarking data in order to frame a competitive benefit mix for each nation.
- Fastest-growing businesses moving at double the speed to create clearly defined, shared employee benefits responsibility between head office and foreign bases. They are also increasingly concerned with establishing administrative platforms.
- The UK lags behind the US in providing benefits to its workers abroad. Researchers suggest this could be because British companies assume the state will provide basic benefits like they do at home.
The survey also found that company-size dictated the shape of benefits provision. By the time a business had grown to 1,000 employees, it had to prioritise and speed up its centralising processes to iron out “bad habits caused by early carelessness.” At 3,000 staff, these systems were bedding in but it wasn’t until the 10,000 milestone was reached that they were running smoothly.
“It is crucial that businesses recognise how quickly this is developing,” said Julia Whittle, head of Punter Southall International. “The research shows us that the international benefits offering has to be synchronised to be cost-effective for the employer and attractive and viable for the employee. To be in action on this, you need a global overview. It’s important to emphasise that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each business needs a strategy customised to the employer’s objectives and the employees’ needs.”
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