June 12, 2023
In 2023, employee well-being remains paramount to employers, with 47% reporting that it is a fundamental part of their workforce strategy.
While employers have long been focused on employee health and well-being, factors further influencing these trends include the end of the global pandemic, economic fluctuations and rising inflation. These recent developments are contributing to and changing the way that society views well-being and the role of employers in providing such benefits, subsequently shifting these programs from a corporate responsibility to a strategic imperative.
Based on input from its member companies, Business Group on Health has identified five key trends to watch for in global benefits and well-being programs:
An Expanded Vision of Well-being for Global Workforces
As the importance of employee well-being strategies takes center stage in corporate boardrooms worldwide, a broader understanding of well-being is taking shape. The focus, much broader than any one aspect, is instead on the complete well-being spectrum – including physical health, mental health, social connectedness, financial security, job satisfaction and community.
By embracing this expanded vision of well-being and providing balanced, holistic programs, employers stand to benefit from a more engaged, productive workforce and potentially lower turnover rates.
Successful organizations will recognize and adapt to these evolving needs, ensuring that their employee well-being strategies are in harmony with the changing landscape. Many organizations report that their focus on areas outside of mental and physical health has grown by as much as 20 points.
- 14th Annual Employer-Sponsored Health and Well-being Survey: Well-being’s Path Forward
- Employer Trends Across Six Dimensions of Well-being
A Heightened Focus on Global Consistency and Governance
In an era marked by increasingly geographically diverse workforces, the need for global consistency in benefits management and delivery has never been more critical.
Employers are tasked with navigating complex administrative landscapes, promoting transparency and maintaining a consistent employee experience throughout their organizations – all while ensuring that benefit offerings remain competitive and effective across differing markets.
Beyond these immediate considerations, global consistency is also instrumental in establishing robust governance structures. By maintaining consistent benefits policies and practices at all levels of an organization, businesses can create an environment that promotes equity, regulatory compliance and informed decision-making.
Moreover, this global approach to benefits governance holds significant implications for an organization’s overall financial management. It provides a clearer picture of benefits-related expenditures, which can often become obscured when programs are managed and implemented locally without centralized governance.
By adopting a global perspective, employers can gain better insight into their spending, facilitating more effective budgeting and financial planning.
Adopting global consistency and governance in benefits management will be a defining trend in 2023 and into 2024; 80% of surveyed global employers reported having a global consistency approach or actively developing a strategy. However, there remain challenges in implementing their strategies, including employee needs differing by country (63%) and a lack of providers delivering global solutions (38%).
Organizations implementing these practices will create a more equitable and transparent workplace and gain a firmer grasp on their financial operations.
A Balancing of Cost and Sustainability for Health and Benefits Programs
This year has been marked by employers wrestling with many challenges, from economic uncertainty to resource scarcity. As they navigate these complexities, the focus remains on delivering impactful health and benefits programs to their employees in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.
The design and delivery of benefits strategies are evolving to meet these demands. Innovative financing mechanisms, such as captives and multinational pooling, are being explored as potential solutions – rising by 73% since 2016. These strategies not only provide a more sustainable financial model but also offer opportunities for risk management and cost savings.
Moreover, the importance of forging strong partnerships with providers cannot be overstated. Collaborative relationships can yield efficiencies, drive innovation and ensure the continued delivery of high-quality, impactful benefits programs.
As employers look to the future, the trend toward balancing cost and sustainability will become increasingly pivotal. Employers who can successfully integrate these principles into their benefits design and delivery strategies will be better positioned to weather economic fluctuations, maintain competitive benefits offerings and ultimately, support the well-being of their workforce.
Inclusive and Relevant Benefits Programs for Diverse Workforces
As the global workforce grows increasingly multigenerational and culturally diverse, the challenge for employers is to construct benefits programs that are both globally consistent and locally relevant. These programs must take into account varying levels of access to appropriate care, ensuring that they meet the specific health and well-being needs of all employees.
Understanding and addressing the gaps within their workforce is paramount for global employers. They are uniquely positioned to address unmet health and well-being needs, whether these pertain to different generations, cultures or other demographic factors, and provide critical and important care that may not be covered by local health systems.
At the same time, an inclusive approach to benefits must also consider issues of equity. This includes but is not limited to understanding and meeting the needs of traditionally underrepresented groups, fostering inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community and addressing the unique challenges of other groups such as women and individuals with cognitive or physical impairments. Tailoring benefits programs to meet these needs can foster a more inclusive, equitable workplace and ensure that all employees feel valued and supported.
However, delivering globally inclusive benefits is not without its challenges. Local cultural norms and governmental regulations can significantly influence what is considered appropriate or necessary regarding benefits.
As such, employers must strike a balance between global consistency and local relevance, ensuring that their benefits programs respect cultural differences and comply with local laws while still meeting the overarching needs of their global workforce.
Moving forward, the ability to construct globally inclusive and relevant benefits programs will increasingly become a key differentiator for employers. Those who rise to this challenge will not only enhance the well-being of their employees but also foster a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture.
- Health Equity: Employer Role in Driving Change Globally
- Prioritizing Women's Health in Global Benefits Design
- LGBTQ+ Inclusive Benefits and Employer Challenges
Smart Navigation of a Range of Government Mandates
The intricacies of delivering global benefits programs are numerous and complex, one of the most significant being local and national government mandates.
These rules and regulations substantially shape the development and delivery of benefits programs across diverse regions. From mandated childcare benefits and job protections in case of illnesses such as cancer to retirement and pension plans, a one-size-fits-all approach is not viable for benefits programs that are truly global. Furthermore, these rules and regulations are not just guidelines to follow; they are powerful influencers of both the availability and the cost of benefits.
Government mandates and their associated cost implications will continue to impact the landscape of global benefits programs. Employers will need to adapt to these mandates on a country-by-country basis, understanding their unique influence on the availability and costs of benefits. Navigating these regulations will be critical in their efforts to provide comprehensive benefits programs that are globally consistent yet locally relevant.
Global employers are actively redefining the scope of employee health and well-being. They are doing so by embracing key trends such as prioritizing comprehensive well-being strategies, ensuring global consistency in benefits, striking a balance between cost and sustainability, designing inclusive benefits programs and skillfully navigating through intricate governmental mandates.
The core objective remains to create and nurture a healthier, more engaged, and equitable workforce. These trends signify a shift in perception – benefits and well-being are not just corporate responsibilities but strategic imperatives that contribute to sustained success in today's dynamic business environment.