Global Benefits Governance Toolkit
The following key learnings were taken from interviews given by the companies and from the survey.
- Top-level corporate sponsorship helps ensure global focus.
- Regardless of the nature of your governance structure (whether centralized, decentralized, etc.), identify your philosophy, strategy and essential guidelines for benefit design across all sectors of the company. For example, if your company places a high value on preventive wellness programs, encourage this aspect of benefit design throughout the organization.
- Appoint key partners first and then establish the governance framework. A strong base of partners can be leveraged to build future governance initiatives.
- In developing a structure for governance and in designing benefits, involve people in the field and at the grassroots level, and involve them early in the processes. Local HR and others can be virtual teams and will help make it possible to achieve local buy-in. In addition, ongoing partnerships with regional staff can lead to better relationships.
- Allow for flexibility and be open to change in governance structure. For example, you may start out with a decentralized governance structure and decide that in order to reach your corporate goals you need to move to a more centralized model, or vice versa.
- In designing benefits for regional operations, try to balance local needs and realities with overarching corporate goals and objectives. For example, if employee cost sharing is part of your company's philosophy, make sure it's reflected in benefits design at operations in all geographical areas.
- Give local stakeholders responsibility for items that are really important to them, when possible. This empowerment helps build engagement.
- Regularly stay abreast of and comply with the legal responsibilities and constraints found in each market.
- Strive for benefit design that is market competitive, but understand that you may not be able to achieve it in all benefit areas. Given many other factors that impact benefits, you may be below market in one area (e.g., retirement) and above market in another area (e.g., paid time off).
- Value communications and stay focused on how messages are conveyed internally. Although online communication is efficient and generally effective, there are times when a face-to-face meeting is required. For example, when implementing approval and auditing guidelines or during renewal discussions in each region, an initial high-level, person-to-person meeting may go a long way in ensuring that rules and guidelines are followed.
- Address governance often. As staff members change, messages can be lost.
- Make sure your company has an approval process for benefit design and redesign in place. Communicate this process to operations on a regular basis and, if necessary, monitor compliance.
- Call on local contractors-brokers, actuaries, etc.-to assist your company in creating and implementing benefit design policies. However, be sure to assess and measure vendor results at workable intervals (annually, biannually, etc.).
- Develop a strong partnership with legal, finance and HR Compensation and Benefits. Involving other necessary staff up front means smoother and quicker implementation at the back end. This team effort captures efficiencies and allows for shared recognition of achievements.
- Schedule a governance review at least annually. This will allow you to fine-tune your policies and continually improve the quality of the mechanisms and processes that support the well-being of employees and contribute to the company's financial health.
- Recognize that improving governance may require a significant investment in time and fees. Ensuring good governance can be costly, and pay-off is often hard to measure.
- Learn from and benchmark with your peers. With the large number of multinational companies as members, the Global Business Group on Health provides an excellent forum for trading ideas about governance issues and sharing resources.
- Global governance requires ongoing evaluation and constant communication. It's a work in progress, due to the ever-changing global environment.