June 30, 2023
Managing a global consistency approach is an iterative process that encompasses a variety of opportunities and learnings that will evolve over time.
1. Understand Existing Legal Mandates and Local Compliance Rules
In a Business Group survey, 67% percent of participants with a global consistency strategy in place stated that legal mandates or local compliance regulations are their top barriers.1
Don’t let these challenges stop you. By deliberately developing your strategy over a prolonged period, you can judiciously leverage multiple stakeholders, such as your broker/consultant, internal legal counsel and more, to move the proverbial benefits needle.
Remember, change takes time, so be sure to enlist support and advice from experts while keeping your focus on the North Star.
2. Conduct a Comprehensive Review of Country or Region Infrastructure Barriers
Business Group on Health’s survey revealed that location feasibility (e.g., regulatory limitations, limits of captive reach) primarily determined where a strategy was first rolled out.1 For those without a global consistency strategy in place, survey respondents stated market infrastructure challenges as their top barrier, while those with a global consistency strategy noted that standards were set that took into consideration infrastructure capacity.1 Nonetheless, it is important to identify if financing mechanisms or vendor consolidation would provide opportunities to overcome design barriers.
Assess structural benefit needs and gaps. It is extremely important to understand what is currently offered around the world, including gaps or inadequacies, as well as what local governments offer, and then create a comprehensive but not duplicative benefits program.
3. Enable Engagement Through Communication
When making any changes to benefit designs or structure, it is important to meet early and often with relevant stakeholders to facilitate transparency and understanding with leaders of the affected markets. Employers with clearly defined global strategies tend to have collaborative relationships with local and regional teams instead of using a top-down approach. Also, how you communicate with those ultimately impacted by the changes --your employees-- is just as important as the message being conveyed.
Engage your colleagues proactively and communicate changes to your employees thoughtfully. Effective communication can provide clear insights into any impacts brought on by the changes, as well as remove any potential issues regarding stigma and discrimination about diseases or conditions and facilitate more sustainable employee engagement.
4. Understand Cyclical Data Collection
When collecting international health data, there is a balance between creating an equitable and consistent experience while also addressing local challenges. Therefore, conducting a robust analysis of your data is essential.
For example, consider the following:
- Are global statistics too aggregated to be useful at a country or even regional level?
- Are the most common conditions identified at a country, regional or global level?
- Are the most common causes of absence, disability and/or death identified at a country, regional or global level?
Understand what data can and cannot be accessed in each country/region. Develop your strategy based on what data you can access. Utilize your vendor partners to provide datasets and help build the business case by extrapolating on their return-on-investment (ROI) analysis used in their marketing materials.
5. Assess Benefit Scalability and Harmonization
As companies acquire and merge with new businesses, there are opportunities to bring global consistency to the harmonization process and find creative efficiencies.
For example, consider the following:
- Are country locations under one benefit design philosophy or do they vary by individual location?
- Are you using one vendor across all locations in one country?
- How viable are financing mechanisms or vendor consolidation?
- Would administrator consolidation to a few plans vs. just one plan be viable?
- Are there any regulatory restrictions to consolidation?
- Are there unique talent recruitment needs for different business lines that require different benefits?
Time invested upfront is critical to understanding what you have so you can determine where you are going with your strategy.
Efficiencies Guiding Questions
Consider these questions as part of efficiency efforts:
- What are your larger organizational goals and priorities (e.g., global consistency, equity, mergers & acquisitions, global mobility, captive, multinational pooling, global or regional broker, governance overhaul)?
- What elements do you want to include in the process (e.g., design, vendors, procurement)?
- Which benefits will be included (e.g., medical, retirement, disability, life, point solutions, non-core benefits)?
- What change efforts are relevant (e.g., closing plans vs. freezing plans)?
- What is the employee impact (e.g., new hires only vs. current employees)?
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- 1 | Business Group on Health. Quick survey findings: Global benefits governance. October 14, 2021. https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/resources/quick-survey-findings-global-benefits-governance. Accessed May 5, 2023.
IntroCreating a Globally Consistent Benefits Strategy
Part 1What Is Global Consistency, and Why Is It Important?
Part 2Harnessing Long-Term Global Consistency Opportunities
Part 3Benefits to Include in a Global Consistency Strategy
Part 4Utilizing Financing Mechanisms to Implement a Global Consistency Strategy
Part 5Prioritizing and Advancing a Globally Consistent Vision