Unifying international employee benefits: how using a broker makes better sense

multiple country flags fly in the wind representing the challenge of international employee benefits

A challenge facing many businesses with multiple global operations is managing the benefits of their staff. In an age where salaries alone are no longer sufficient to attract the high calibre talent companies look for to drive their success further, juggling international employee benefits can be a tough task. Still, the lure of emerging markets continues to draw many businesses to set up regional sites around the world. This week, Pacific Prime will discuss why having a broker coordinate and unifying your employee benefits globally can not only save you time and money, but provide your business with unparalleled support to do what you’re in the business of doing.

Common challenges faced by companies with multiple global offices

According to the UK-based industry news site, Employee Benefits, the top five global benefits strategy challenges in 2015 were:

  • A lack of understanding of the value of the total reward a plan offers employees (57%)
  • High levels of benefits administration (51%)
  • Challenges with reporting globally on total reward costs (41%)
  • Difficulty demonstrating the return on investment to key stakeholders (35%)
  • Low levels of employee engagement and poor communication of benefits (30%)

In our experience, many clients find themselves frustrated with one or many of the above challenges. Most Human Resources departments lack someone who specializes in international employee benefits, leaving businesses to rely heavily on the information and analysis of the benefits provider they’re paying. As such, a significant factor for many global businesses can also be: Are we getting the best advice?

How using an independent broker can support your international employee benefits strategy

Part of what makes Pacific Prime such an effective corporate insurance partner is in our global presence, and complete independence from the insurers we offer solutions from. We’ve built our business this way on purpose; to ensure that any and all insurance-related challenges your global business might face can be serviced and supported by our advisors. Here’s what makes the Pacific Prime advantage the choice of many corporates around the world:

A single, dedicated point-of-contact for global management and regional offices

When your company has a headquarters in your home country, e.g., the United States, and offices throughout Asia and the Middle East, coordinating international employee benefits can be a full-time job and then some. You might find yourself dealing with separate insurers and providers across different countries or regions of your business, whilst some might find themselves backed into a corner by choosing a broker that guides you to providing employee benefits from the same provider worldwide.

The benefits to using Pacific Prime means that we’ll offer you the best plans from the most appropriate insurers in each country or region your offices are located, but establish ourselves as the main point of contact for your entire organization. For example, your Hong Kong HQ can discuss your global benefits strategy with our Hong Kong office, while your office in China is serviced by one of our two Chinese locations. Expanding to the Middle East? Let our teams in Dubai do the groundwork to ensure that your employee benefits for your new office are ready to go.

An industry independent with established working relationships with most global brands

We’ve been building relationships and partnerships in the insurance industry for almost 20 years, and have been recognized for our hard work a number of times over. We’re one of Bupa’s biggest distributors of private international medical insurance plans around the globe, winning the Bupa Innovative Excellence Award in 2016. Despite being one of the highest sellers of Bupa plans, the insurer only makes up 20% of our total business. Pacific Prime boasts a close working relationship with many of the world’s top brands, including Aetna, AXA, Cigna, and William Russell.

How can this benefit your company? We can leverage our reputation and relationships to ensure that your offices, wherever they are, are getting the coverage and benefits that they need – and we’re not beholden to ensuring you stay with any particular insurer. In addition, our good standing means you and your employees can benefit from dedicated staff within the major insurers whose sole role is to support Pacific Prime clients. Let us negotiate a better premium price for your company, without a loss of coverage or outstanding service.

Centralized administrative support, regardless of the number insurers you engage

Key to delivering more than your average broker is our commitment to simplifying insurance – including your administrative requirements across the globe. With our 7 offices worldwide, all located in key expat business locations, our teams of Sales, Claims, and Renewal staff are available wherever you need us. Forget about having to remember multiple different contacts for your offices in Europe, the Americas, and Asia; a dedicated account manager will be supported by administrative staff and ensure that your insurance-related correspondence is streamlined.

Multijurisdictional compliance expertise

Governments are constantly changing the rules and regulations related to healthcare and insurance coverage; Dubai recently introduced mandatory health insurance coverage for anyone entering its borders, whilst company insurance requirements will differ between offices located in Singapore, China, and Hong Kong. To reduce the risk of being liable for non-compliance penalties, or even having your business temporarily suspended, engaging an expert on multijurisdictional compliance, like Pacific Prime, is hugely important.

In fact, Pacific Prime recently became a member of one of the worlds biggest group of brokers and intermediaries, the Worldwide Broker Network (WBN), giving us access to a wealth of international knowledge, a network of expert peers, and the ability to be updated instantly of any and all regulation changes that might affect your business and staff in global offices. We’ll work with you to ensure that any changes in legislation are met by your plan, or work with you to secure the coverage needed to meet compliance.

Unparalleled support for both benefits and your overall business needs

Providing international employee benefits is only part of the job, ensuring understanding and engagement is another. Pacific Prime seeks to support its clients completely, through offering orientation and information sessions related to your benefits plans; and we can draw upon our own global offices to deliver them. We also help develop communication strategies to ensure any new offerings or changes to benefits are communicated adequately, meaning your HR staff can worry less about staff issues related to their employee packages.

Your senior management and decision makers can also take advantage of our expert analysis and advice related to benefits plan performance, global experience with coordinating benefits, and industry knowledge to ensure that your package meets with current industry and talent expectations. We’ll also help out where we can to ensure that any premium costs meet global and regional budgeting requirements, and can take a whole of company approach to finding the financial solutions your business needs.

Structure your international employee benefits better with Pacific Prime

Organizing your benefits across multiple locations can be made simple and smarter by using an expert, independent broker like Pacific Prime. Our services have been honed and developed over the past two decades to ensure that we can offer a fully comprehensive solution that allows you to manage your regional needs effectively, whilst maintaining a broader, global oversight. Arrange a meeting with our consultants who can outline exactly how a relationship with Pacific Prime can benefit your company and staff today.

Call us now to find a better international employee benefits solution!

Back-to-work strategy: How to help new parents transition back to work

back-to-work strategy article

Returning to work after taking time out can be tough, especially for new parents. Assuming most companies want to retain their talented returnees, it behooves employers to address the reintroduction of employees to the workplace and provide a softer landing for returning new parents. But, how can employers better facilitate new parents returning to work? To answer this question, today’s blog post by employee benefits specialist Pacific Prime looks at the key ways in which companies can best implement a back-to-work strategy.

The importance of a back-to-work strategy

Back-to-work schemes are an integral part of an organization’s HR strategy, and are designed to facilitate the reintegration of employees who have been on leave from work due to maternity/paternity leave or other reasons (e.g. caring for ill parents, injury, etc.). The right back-to-work strategy isn’t just something that’s ‘nice to have’, it can, in fact, also form an instrumental part of a company’s growth strategy.

Here, we look at the key reasons why employers should support effective return to work:

Help returnees deal with back-to-work anxiety

For many new parents, the excitement of welcoming a new addition to the family goes hand-in-hand with apprehension about juggling work-life duties once the new baby arrives. This apprehension and uncertainty can cause a great deal of back-to-work anxiety among new parents, both personally and professionally. For example, new moms and dads often worry about:

  • Separation anxiety: New parents often feel guilty about being away from their new baby.
  • Juggling responsibilities both at home and at work: We all know that parenting can be a full time job on its own, but what about the many parents who also do work for other people? According to a recent Working Mother study, working moms spend an average of 98 hours working a week, a lot more than the traditional work week of 40 hours.
  • Lack of job security: Having a baby can create career complications for new parents, leading many to worry about their job security (e.g. lack of promotion, demotion). In fact, a UK study found that 45 percent of moms return to work before the end of their maternity leave because of fears that they would lose their job if they took the full amount.
  • Loneliness: Reentering the workplace can be a lonely experience, especially if the returnee is the only one going through it in the company. Even the most caring coworkers and friends might not be able to fully understand or anticipate the needs of returning new parents.
  • Emotional distance: Being away from work for an extended period of time can create a sense of emotional distance between the returnee and their coworkers.

After an extended period of time away from work, it’s only natural that many returnees lose confidence and feel anxious about the prospect of returning to the workplace. Whether employers realize it or not, too often companies are not doing enough to reintroduce returning parents to the workplace. With this in mind, the right back-to-work strategy can help new moms and dads make a smoother, less emotionally draining transition back to work.

Retain top talent

While attracting talent remains top on the agendas of employers, the pendulum is swinging towards talent retention. Losing top talent represents a large loss of investment, especially when the company that lured your employee away is one of your competitors.

Throw in the fact that three in five (59%) of new parents – both men and women – say they’re likely to switch employers after their first baby, and it’s clear to see why a growing number of companies are realizing it’s in their best interest to make sure new parents get the support they need when they return to the workplace.

Boost your employer brand

If your company is known for having a supportive and family friendly working environment, you’ll create a more favorable brand perception for yourself as an employer, and also a better perception of your business. This, in turn, is not only good for your business as it pertains to organizational growth, but also provides you with an edge over the competition. An example of a company that has put considerable effort into supporting new parents is Goldman Sachs, who implemented a “Help at Home” intranet bulletin allowing employees to share key tips on child care. The result: a more supportive culture, and employees who spend less time stressing over the many aspects of child care.

Back-to-work benefits that appeal most to working parents

Now that we’ve established the importance of a back-to-work strategy, the question now is: “What back-to-work benefits should employers consider for new parents rejoining the workforce?” Here, we look at three top perks that appeal most to working parents:

Flexible or alternative working hours

Flexible working hours is one of the top benefits that working moms value the most, according to a recent company benefits survey. Work can sometimes require an interruption from the typical nine-to-five, whether it’s due to child care responsibilities or other family obligations.

A focus on flexibility, for example flexible working hours, can be very beneficial for new parents rejoining the workplace, allowing them to meet their personal needs. This could mean allowing employees to start working earlier in the morning (e.g. at 7 AM instead of 9 AM), so that parents can leave earlier to take care of their new child.

Workplace support

Support initiatives like educational workshops/webinars and coaching sessions can be very beneficial for new working parents. Additionally, initiatives like buddy programs, which pairs employees with peers who have been through the same transition can ensure that the returnee feels less lonely and has someone to turn to for guidance.

Extra perks like breastfeeding facilities can also further establish a family friendly working environment. For example, multinational pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson offers temperature controlled breast milk delivery for moms travelling for business purposes as part of their back-to-work strategy.

Employee health insurance

Finally, due in part to skyrocketing healthcare costs, health insurance is another top perk that appeals most to employees. And for new moms and dads, health insurance coverage increases in importance. Considering the high financial cost of raising a child, a comprehensive employer-provided health insurance package that includes cover for your employees’ children can do wonders in providing working parents with much needed financial support.

Implementing the best-fitting employee health insurance plan can, however, be a daunting task. With this in mind, it often pays to work with an experienced employee benefits broker like Pacific Prime.

Get in touch with Pacific Prime today

If you’re looking to learn more about the world of employee benefits and corporate health insurance, be sure to get in touch with the experienced advisors at Pacific Prime today. As the broker of choice for over 3,000 companies worldwide, we’ve had almost 20 years of experience advising, devising, and implementing the most optimal corporate solutions for businesses of all sizes.

Alternatively, be sure to check out our corporate site to learn more about us and the companies we work with, or read our blog to stay up-to-date on the latest employee benefits and wellness issues.

Health insurance coverage and employee health outcomes

Health insurance coverage and health outcomes article

We often hear people in the healthcare sector talk about ‘health outcomes’, but what does it really mean? According to World Health Organization, an outcome is “a change in the health status of an individual, group or population which is attributable to a planned intervention or series of interventions, regardless of whether such an intervention was intended to change health status.” In other words, a health outcome can be described as the efficacy of interventions (healthcare or health insurance coverage, for example) in improving the health status of patients, employees, or the society at large.

As populations continue to age, and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) continue to rise at alarming rates, a growing proportion of the world’s population are experiencing a decline in their health status. As such, it’s become more important than ever for governments, key decision makers, health care providers, insurers, and employers to focus on improving the health status of patients, employees, and populations. To shed some light on the issue, today’s article looks at the relationship between health insurance coverage and employee health outcomes.

health outcomes and health insurance coverage article

Health-related quality of life

Before we look at the relationship between health insurance coverage and health outcomes, we’d first like to address how outcomes are usually measured. While there exists many variations of definitions for the term health outcomes, one primary aspect that almost all concepts focus on are the central measures or indicators used to measure the health status of patients.

One such indicator is health-related quality of life, which is a multidimensional concept that encompasses domains related to physical, mental, emotional, and social functioning. Put differently, it refers to how physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially healthy people feel when they are alive. An oft-used measurement of health-related quality of life is “healthy days”, which is generated by asking people about the number of physically or mentally unhealthy days they experience per month.

Healthcare costs and health outcomes

In the past 20 years, consumer price inflation (CPI) has grown at an average rate of about 2.2 percent, whereas the price level of medical care has grown at an average rate of 3.6 percent – that’s about 70 percent faster. Explanations are not hard to find. In our International Private Medical Insurance Inflation – 2017 report, we looked at the main forces behind hiking healthcare costs and, subsequently, health insurance costs: new medical technology, an imbalance of health resources, increased compensation for medical professionals, and healthcare overutilization.

As healthcare spending continues to exceed economic growth at an unsustainable level, more and more people are finding it increasingly hard to afford and access quality care. Demographic changes such as ageing populations, and the growing incidence of NCDs, are further exacerbating the healthcare ‘cost crisis’. Some commentators believe the challenge of delivering better health outcomes with lower overall costs can be attributed to ineffective cost measurement processes, leaving better value care out of reach for both providers and patients.

If healthcare costs are better controlled, people (in theory) have a greater ability to access the care they need to live healthier lives. For instance, patients can undergo more frequent screenings and health check-ups to ensure early detection of cancer, diabetes, and other serious conditions. This can help ensure that less costly and complex care is needed in the long run, and can also limit health deterioration.

The role of health insurance coverage

Health insurance is a key tool for managing financial risk and offsetting the cost of care. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, there is abundant evidence that suggests having health insurance improves financial security. For example, the article cited a US-based study on the ACA’s 2014 Medicaid expansion’s links to reduced bill collection and bankruptcies, thus confirming that health insurance reduces the risk of unforeseen medical costs.

From an employee benefits perspective, the annual Employee Benefit Trends Study has long reported the importance employees place on financial security. One of the key ways businesses address this need is by offering employer-provided health insurance as part of their employee benefits package. In addition to bolstering employee financial security, there’s also a good chance that implementing the right employee health benefits leads to better workforce health outcomes, which translates to lower healthcare costs for employers in the long run.

Health insurance and access to care

According to the aforementioned New England Journal of Medicine article, several studies have shown that health insurance coverage has been linked to higher rates of patients being able to afford care, a factor which is oft-associated with better health outcomes. In fact, the CDC states that health insurance coverage provides a strong indication of a population’s access to care.

In recognizing the importance of ensuring universal access to quality care, a growing number of locations have made or are in the process of making health insurance mandatory. For example, Abu Dhabi introduced universal health insurance coverage in 2006, which led to an immediate 40 percent increase in hospital and clinic visits by people able to afford care for the very first time. A rise in the utilization of care has also been witnessed in Dubai, where employers of all sizes are now required to provide compliant health insurance coverage to employees.

Access to preventative services

The New England Journal of Medicine study further revealed that the expansion of coverage benefits increases access to preventative services, which can help patients detect health issues early on so they can better manage their health.

To mitigate rising healthcare costs, a growing number of employers are also seeing the importance of offering preventative care cover in employee benefit plans. In fact, a Willis Towers Watson study found that 39 percent of employers throughout the world now offer some form of preventative care and wellness program, and this percentage is projected to grow significantly in 2018.

Self-reported health and wellbeing

There’s also evidence to suggest that health insurance coverage improves patients’ perceptions of their health. Why is this important? According to World Health Organization, subjective physical and mental wellbeing (i.e. the notion of feeling better or feeling healthy) is one of the key goals that medical care should aim to achieve. Additionally, people who report that their health is poor have been found to have mortality rates 2 to 10 times higher than those who report being in the healthiest category.

What about mental health?

In addition to addressing physical health, the issue of mental health has also been brought into the spotlight as a key factor that is closely linked to health outcomes. In fact, as employee stress continues to rise, 61 percent of global insurers now offer coverage for mental health treatment and stress in their standard health insurance plans.

Our recent article, written in partnership with Asia Care Group, further revealed a number of key findings which show the importance of addressing employee mental health. These include:

  • Demanding jobs increase the chances of physician-diagnosed illness by 35 percent, and long working hours increase mortality by almost 20 percent.
  • Job insecurity increases the likelihood of reporting poor health by 50 percent.
  • The global cost of mental disorders is expected to reach USD 6 trillion by 2030, which primarily includes the costs and strains to the healthcare sector.

While health insurance plays a significant role in enabling access to better mental health care, employers are advised to look beyond health insurance in order to employ a more holistic approach to employee benefits which includes considerations for wellness benefits that target mental health. Examples of what employers can do to address mental health include:

  • Inviting a mental health professional to talk to employees about various mental health topics
  • Providing mental health management resources, such as online counselling services.
  • Partnering with an employee benefits specialist like Pacific Prime, who can help devise, implement, and manage your company’s benefits and mental wellness solutions.

Looking to learn more about improving your employees’ health outcomes?

As employee benefits specialists, we’ve had almost 20 years of experience delivering employee benefits solutions to companies of all sizes and industries. Holding the unique ability to devise, implement, and manage the most optimal plans that improve employee health outcomes, while also ensuring that they remain sustainable and cost-effective year-on-year, it’s no wonder why we are the broker of choice for over 3,000 corporate clients.

What’s more, we’re an insurance intermediary, which means we are not beholden to any one insurance provider. As such, we work for you, and not the insurer, so you can rest assured that we’ll find you the best plan for your employee’s needs. To learn more about how Pacific Prime can help your company, contact us today! Our corporate team are standing by to offer their impartial advice, as well as give you a no-obligation, free quote.

Employee Benefits Plans: Important things to remember when structuring

employee benefits plans

If you are a Human Resources professional, or otherwise administer your company’s group health insurance plan, it can oftentimes feel overwhelming. It’s hard enough to keep up for those that have been dealing with employee health insurance for years. This group no doubt already has learned many of the ins and outs of obtaining, managing and renewing a company health insurance policy. However, those that are newer to this area could likely use some input on navigating the waters on the seas of employee benefits plans. Here, Pacific Prime will look at the ways in which businesses are structuring health insurance, employee benefits and wellness plans successfully.

Blending benefits

At Pacific Prime we provide group health insurance solutions for thousands of different organizations, and we are always looking out for hot trends in the world of group health insurance so that we can use our specific members’ experiences to help the entire community we serve.

With this in mind, we have noticed that it is becoming increasingly common to see more variety in the employee benefits plans provided by our members to their staff. Yes, comprehensive insurance is the norm, and in many cases – especially with expatriate employees – entire families are being covered by a company plan, but plans today can include so much more.

Now you can find that forward-thinking companies are able to not only make themselves more attractive to new hires, but also improve the morale of current employees by including benefits like wellness plans, dental and vision coverage, employee assistance programs, both short term and long term disability insurance, and more fringe benefits. From this point, companies are able to keep tabs on which benefits are more and less popular with employees, and make subsequent decisions about where to focus their employee benefit budget.

There are even newer types of plans that will allow for ‘flexible benefits’, meaning that employees can choose which benefits they would prefer to have from a list of what is available to them.

Placing a focus on prevention

While many healthcare systems and insurance plans around the world are focused on the reactionary treatment of acute health problems at hospitals after they have already occurred, more recently people, governments, and healthcare systems have taken aim at preventive medicine to a greater degree.

This is where benefits such as nutrition and healthy living seminars come into play. Companies will actually have expert speakers come in to inform employees about how they can live happier, healthier lives, and thereby avoid health problems that might not develop until years or even decades into the future. As well, gym memberships are being included in wellness programs in order to keep employees fit and healthy.

Emphasis on education

Quite similarly to the previous point, employers are finding that there is so much more to properly taking care of their employees than just healthcare. However, this is a world where there are known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns; which is all a way of saying that sometimes people don’t know the slightest thing about a topic that could really help them and their families when it comes to healthy living.

For example, we have come across members that saw employees having both physical and mental health issues as the result of stress, both inside and outside of work. A bit of digging revealed that some of these employees were constantly worrying about financial issues, and really didn’t know how to go about addressing them.

In this instance, the company decided it prudent to bring in a financial consultant to present to all employees of the company on the basics of financial planning, and to work more closely with employees that felt they may additional counseling.

Data diving

Certainly there is much more to employee benefits plans than just what employees can see. If you work in HR, you know that keeping on top of just a group health insurance plan is a never ending battle. However, to be clear, it is the companies that are putting the most effort into analyzing plan data that are having the easiest time with plan renewal, negotiation, and management.

Is your company actually getting the most out of its health insurance and employee benefits plans? Only proper data analysis can reveal the true answer. It’s important to examine the ratio of how much you are paying versus how much your plan is being used. Believe it or not, there are actually times where we find that a company is seriously overpaying for the benefits it provides to its employees. In such cases, with proper ongoing data collection, our advisers are able to recommend specific benefits that the employer can reduce benefits, or even cut outright, with very minimal effects on employees. If they don’t use it, lose it!

Expecting increases

If you have dealt with health insurance in any capacity, you most likely have realized that prices tend to increase on an annual basis. There are specific occasions in which this isn’t true, but by and large it is.

Claims data can reveal a lot about whether or not increased premiums are warranted or not. For example, there are times our members will have their insurance provider proclaim that premiums will need to be raised significantly on the policy due to its heavy usage in a given year.

Fortunately, Pacific Prime is there to analyze claim data on their behalf. Oftentimes we are then able to highlight anomalies and expensive one-time procedures that will artificially inflate the costs to insurers during a short time frame. By highlighting these instances and projecting that subsequent years will not see the same trends, Pacific Prime has been able to renegotiate premium increases with insurers, and our members have seen significant savings as a result.

Employee benefits plans through a broker

Now, of course, we may be a bit biased on this point, but we wholeheartedly feel that a company’s best way to go about creating their employee benefits plans is to start out by partnering with a knowledgeable insurance broker, like Pacific Prime.

As an insurance intermediary, we are an impartial third party that works on your behalf, and not the insurance company’s. Furthermore, Pacific Prime provides added value as part of our basic service that truly helps us stand out versus the competition, including the types of claims, data analysis, renewal, and negotiation support the likes of which is alluded to above.

To find out more about how Pacific Prime can help your company ensure its has the very best possible employee benefit and group health insurance plan for its needs, contact us today! We can provide your company with a dedicated team that will be happy to start out by providing you with a free plan comparison and price quote.

Are you getting the best from your employee benefits broker?

an employee benefits broker smiles warmly from behind his desk

Did you know that brokers and intermediaries account for a significant majority of the businesses in the insurance sector? This is an important point to know when it comes to ensuring you’re getting the best corporate benefits package in the market. Many are well aware of big-name players like Bupa Global and Cigna Global, as well as the insurance services they provide, but how well do you know the employee benefits broker market? And how can you tell if your intermediary measures up against its competitors?

Here, Pacific Prime discusses what an intermediary does, why they exist, and how you can tell if you’re getting the best from your employee benefits broker.

What is an employee benefits broker?

Instead of going direct to an insurer or benefits provider, a broker acts as your middleman. An intermediary is a person or business that sells insurance products on behalf of an insurer or provider, often falling into two types; insurance agents, and independent brokers.

Agents are usually brokers that have a specific provider they sell for. Independent brokers, however, will sell plans and benefits packages from any insurer they’re authorized to sell for. For insurers, this means extending their consumer reach without the need to invest heavily in their own sales capacity.

Understanding the role of an employee benefits broker

Sales is the main role of an employee benefits broker, however, there’s a lot more to their place in the insurance industry than connecting you with the right plan. In fact, the best brokers in the business offer comprehensive services for both clients and insurers.

an employee benefits broker shows a client what his claims data means

For clients

A good comprehensive employee benefits intermediary will not just help you find a plan, but ensure that your plan remains efficient and effective throughout its lifetime. Initially, they’ll want to gather information about your business and staff to gain a decent understanding of the types of package your company will need. From there, a good broker can:

  • Assess your historical claims data to more accurately determine the performance of your current plan
  • Compare your current employee benefits package and premium against the market to ensure it’s still competitive
  • Negotiate with providers to ensure any specific conditions or circumstances can be met
  • Provide education and communications assistance to increase engagement with your staff
  • Assist with policy and benefits administration; including handling staff benefit enquiries, and processing claims and new staff applications
  • Perform annual benchmarking, and planning
  • Carry out the renewal processes. This includes re-negotiating for better terms or opening a tender process to guarantee competitiveness

The more established a broker is, the better their position will be when it comes to negotiation on your behalf. Those with a well-regarded reputation in the insurance and employee benefits industry will grant you an advantage over your competitors by virtue of the fact their influence will be stronger than if you negotiated alone.

For insurers

Brokers also offer a range of added services that help insurers. These include:

  • Reduction or intervention of application and claims errors by brokers who offer processing support
  • Minimize dissatisfaction with benefits by increasing staff education and engagement
  • Replace providers in the role of an insurance advisor and claims data analyst
  • Foster client loyalty where insurers and benefits providers have performed or exceeded expectations
  • Ensure a fair loss ratio that doesn’t take advantage of a client, while still keeping the premium attractive to an insurer

Essentially, an employee benefits broker that works well provides value in their role as a middleman; to both clients and the insurer. An intermediary that doesn’t enrich the relationship between an employee benefits provider and the client can quickly find themselves short on either.

“If you’re left with more questions than answers, perhaps this broker isn’t the right one for you.”

What should I expect from a top benefits intermediary?

Regardless of whether you currently have an existing broker or you’re starting to think you need one, there are a number of core services you should expect from an intermediary:

They’re knowledgeable

Any employee benefits broker worth their money will be well prepared to provide you with answers. Ask them about the products and insurers they sell, as well as the ones they don’t. An honest intermediary will be able to give you the good and the bad of the industry, and explain how these products will benefit your company and staff. They’ll even be transparent about their commission; some countries make divulging this mandatory, but there’s never really a need to be secretive about it.

Also find out how a broker handles your claims data, and question them about what your current claims data tells them. If you’re simply getting answers that you could already get from an insurer, then perhaps they’re not as knowledgeable as they appear.

It is also beneficial to ask any prospective broker about their benchmarking process. Most brokers will have a process, but it’s absolutely worth finding out how their system works and how they think it will benefit you.

Finally, question them about your industry and competitors. A well connected and established broker will be able to give you a picture of how your employee benefits package compares to others in your sector, and will explain just how attractive it might be to potential talent. If you’re left with more questions than answers, perhaps this broker isn’t the right one for your company.

They’re accessible

You should be able to contact a broker when you need to, and bigger companies should expect an account manager or someone with which your management can deal with for high-level discussions. Hands-off, lower tier brokers will only ever contact you during renewal time, find out what communications a potential intermediary offers during the year and why it’s valuable to your working relationship.

Some employee benefits brokers will offer online portals and other digital ways to connect with both your management, and your staff. If these are available, be sure to ask more about how they work.

They’re supportive

A big question for many companies is what exactly a broker will do to make your current processes easier. Some may simply sign you up for an employee benefits package and then leave you to deal with the provider for all administrative duties. Others will take some or all of those duties on themselves, and leave your staff with more time to focus on other priorities. See if the intermediary you’re talking to offers support for applications, claims, or other areas.

It’s also worth finding out if your broker will help develop a communication strategy for educating and engaging your staff about their benefits. A high level of communication is vital to ensuring the satisfaction levels of your employee benefits plan, so question whether an intermediary offers educational seminars, orientations, or other related services.

They’re detailed and analytical

Benchmarking and reporting are important in all businesses, and brokering employee benefits is no exception. An experienced broker will demonstrate their knowledge by showing you things about your claims data that no other will have highlighted before. More than just knowing what to look for, a good employee benefits broker will provide you with clear and concise information related to the health and status of your package, empowering you and your management teams to make the right decision when required.

Those brokers with solid analysis experience will also be able to use the data to negotiate better terms or premiums for your business, dependent on what the information shows. Remember to ask what your company can expect in terms of reporting from a broker, and ask for examples of how companies like yours have had better outcomes delivered as a result of that broker’s service.

an employee benefits broker shakes hands with a client

What makes Pacific Prime believe it’s your best employee benefits broker option?

Not all brokers are specialists in employee benefits. Most major intermediaries specialize in other areas, such as Human Resources or financial services, but a specialized employee benefits broker knows corporate health insurance plans better than most. Pacific Prime specializes in providing employee benefits and corporate insurance solutions for professional service firms of any industry. Here’s what you can expect from our unparalleled brokering service:

  • Veteran employee benefits experience and knowledge: We’ve been operating for nearly 20 years in most major expatriate locations, and we work with virtually all of the top benefits providers in the world. We’re one of the biggest distributors of international health insurance plans for a number of global insurers, and we specialize in delivering services for the high-needs staff of professional service firms.
  • Support beyond sales: We’re one of the most involved employee benefits intermediaries in the market, having designed our entire business process around adding value after sales. We become the main point of contact for your company and staff, look after applications, claims, management and maintenance, staff education, communication; and we even have our own in-house developed technology and tools that can offer you a bespoke, tailor solution that fits your business needs.
  • Industry-leading analysis and insights: We offer unparalleled analysis of claims data, sound advice on current and future employee benefits planning, and can make all of this information available to you whenever you need it – not just at the end of the year.
  • A global footprint: Our global family of dedicated offices are located in many major locations, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, China, and more. Wherever in the world you are, you can be sure that Pacific Prime will be nearby to provide all of these outstanding employee benefits broker services.

We know what our strengths are and we’re confident that you won’t find better elsewhere. If you’re in the market for a new broker, or you believe that engaging an intermediary might be a good next step for your business, we’d love the opportunity to talk to you. Our Corporate consultants will happily meet with you to discuss what our services are, and how we can help you control and improve the employee benefits you offer your staff.

To find out more, visit our Corporate website, or contact our team today to arrange a meeting.

 

Employee benefits planning: communicating important changes to your staff

man in a suit addresses his staff with his employee benefits planning changes

For many HR teams, a change in employee benefits can seem like a coming tidal wave looming on the horizon. The top of that wave peaks white with inevitable questions from staff about the new package. Perhaps the rising roar of it warns of the potential discontent of those thinking they’re losing value in their benefits. The coming crash? A potential onslaught of complaints or even threats to leave once the changes have had time to wash over people. When it comes to employee benefits planning, a solid communication strategy can be key for staying above the tide when your company needs to make changes.

At Pacific Prime, we’re specialists in employee benefits solutions for corporates. We excel in professional services environments where your workforce can be more demanding than the average; these people have worked hard to get where they are, with the salaries, perks, and benefits they have. As such, here’s our handy tips for communicating employee benefits changes effectively to ensure a high buy-in from staff, and a smooth transition in employee healthcare benefits.

Talking to your staff: the benefit of a communication strategy

Businesses changing employee benefits are more common than you might think. An interview with Willis Towers Watson regional health and benefit heads found that there is a wide range of drivers impacting the way employers approach compensation packages; from changes in demographics, impacts from government regulations, and reducing company budgets due to economic factors. The result has seen some businesses rethink and rearrange their employee benefits package, while others looked to change and, in some cases, reduce their offerings to staff completely.

In terms of challenges businesses face, Head of Health Benefits in Latin America Maximo Saravi says that educating staff on what a package entails has become a focus for some in his region. Employees often under appreciate the investment employers invest in benefits, something Saravi attributes to poor communication. In a 2007 study of employee benefits by Prudential, as little as 35% of employees believed that their employer’s communication efforts were “highly effective”. Employers themselves rated themselves lower, with only 21% giving their communication plans high marks.

In our experience, communication is key to the success of your employee benefits plan. When your staff are empowered and educated about the benefits of your compensation packages, you’ll find much better engagement with the employee health solutions you have offered. Plan administration also becomes easier, and employee dissatisfaction will be lowered too. A communication strategy will help your employee benefits planning immensely; but how do you do it?

Keys for a successful employee benefits communication plan

Richard Cushing said “Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” If your company is serious about keeping its head above water should the rains come in, early and thoughtful communications planning will be your ark in the flood. Harvard Business Review’s 2013 engagement survey indicated that 70% of people feel most engaged when their senior leaders provide updates and communicates company strategy frequently.

A good communication strategy, we think, means you’ll have thought about the following:

1. Start your plan as soon as you can

As soon as you know that your company might be considering changes to its employee benefits solutions, start thinking about how you might communicate that early. You’ll be more prepared and confident when delivering the news to staff, and it’ll also help head off any rumor mills that might arise. According to Koenig’s Rumor in the marketplace, workplace gossip can chip away at morale and fuel anxiety, conflicts, and misunderstanding. Getting the right information out early will help stem employee dissatisfaction based on the wrong office talk.

2. Think about who’s in your audience

Today’s workplaces can feature three different generations amongst them; Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y or Millennials. You’ll also have a mix of genders, religions, and cultures, especially those with multiple global offices. It’s important to remember that these people have different perspectives, values, and views on what they need. Employee benefits are about meeting their needs, and so you should expect to tailor at least some communications similarly.

Also, don’t forget that employees really do want to understand what’s happening with their benefits, but some may be more interested than others. A Bank of America report on workplace benefits found that men participate in financial education plans more than women, Millennials showed higher interest in engaging with education about their benefits, yet all three generations had different life motivations for wanting to better their understanding of their employee benefits.

3. Plan your education strategy

For some workplaces, one seminar on employee benefits planning changes might suffice. Others might require constant engagement and frequent messages, so those of you who know this is what your business will need should plan accordingly. This can take the form of periodic change updates, featured spotlights on specific benefits, and employee success stories, distributed via emails or through your work intranet page. Plan to take advantage of your existing communication tools for the best education and engagement result.

4. Stocktake your communication tools and how to use them

You know who you’re targeting, and what messages to target them with; but how do you get your communication to them? Take stock of all the channels you have available to you and work them into your communication strategy, such as:

  • HR portal
  • Mobile device applications
  • Email notifications, intranet videos and articles, online satisfaction surveys
  • Social media
  • Print media

Use the tools available to you to better educate staff on the employee benefits changes you’re making, and maintain engagement as the changes are embedded.

5. Be honest and transparent about the changes

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, only half of workers believe their employer is open and upfront with them. Trust plays an important role in all workplaces and can affect the wellbeing and performance of your employees. Trust comes from employees feeling valued, which leads to higher levels of engagement. When preparing your communication strategy, remember that an honest discussion that clearly outlines the changes and why they’re needed is best. Don’t sugar-coat bad changes. Give employees the facts and explain why your company has made the decision it has.

Trust in your employees to understand your decision and gain their trust in your employee benefit changes.

employees fist bump after a successful employee benefits planning session

Dealing with potential fallout from your employees

Obviously, you can’t please everyone. There’s always going to be someone that’s negatively affected by a change, so how do you minimize the impact of your decision? Here are a few tips that can save you, your senior leaders, and HR teams from unnecessary conflict arising from changes to your company benefits:

  • Understand exactly what your employee benefit changes will do, and how they will affect your staff
  • Prepare your leaders (management, team leaders, HR staff) with the information you suspect that employees will want from them
  • Provide staff with as much fact and information as is appropriate, in as many ways as possible
  • Allow for feedback or input from staff about the changes, and create systems/strategies for addressing these concerns
  • Be prepared to discuss and negotiate important concerns with your employee benefits provider, it’s possible they may have an easy solution

Some businesses will be more flexible with their employee benefits planning than others. Giving information to employees, however, is easy, and empowers them to take a little bit of ownership for not only their own benefits and perks but also in the future of your company. Being open and providing information can also give you and your HR teams a little breathing space to deal with complaints from staff who claim “I didn’t know this would happen!” If staff choose not to engage with your communication strategy, then they only have themselves to blame.

Is there an easier way of planning employee benefits and communicating change?

Of course there is! You could always choose to turn your back on the coming tide and hope you don’t drown should it strike. Or you could reach out to someone well experienced in dealing with a flood of employee health benefit enquiries.

Our Pacific Prime Corporate team see this as an essential part of our brokering service. The many professional service firms we work with are always in different stages of their employee benefits planning; some are happy with their solutions and just need simple administration, others are looking to change their perks and benefits to suit budgetary, talent acquisition, or a number of other business goals. Whatever our client’s needs are, Pacific Prime is there to ensure the whole process runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

We offer benefits orientations for new clients or existing partners looking to change employee health solutions, can take over the function of plan administration, analysis and claims processing, and will provide a communication strategy for any employee benefits changes you might decide upon at any time during our relationship. This includes having our advisors present to your staff and answer any questions they might have about how they’re affected, or how to best take advantage of their new benefits plan.

We’re more than just an insurance broker, we’re an employee benefits specialist. Find out more about our whole approach to delivering exceptional corporate solutions, or contact us now to set up a meeting where we can explain why we’re the broker of choice for both businesses and employee benefits providers around the world.

International travel insurance requirements: What employers need to know

international travel insurance article

In an increasingly globalized marketplace, placing employees in assignments across international locations has become an essential part of doing business. Sending staff overseas, however, can be a fairly complex and involved task. Beyond organizing employee accommodation and travel arrangements, it is also imperative to arrange adequate international travel insurance coverage to safeguard the health and safety of your staff, as well as ensure that the trip runs smoothly.

While the importance of meeting insurance obligations is clear, many employers struggle to thoroughly consider the requirements of sending their staff overseas. Should employers have an international travel insurance policy in place? Are there any mandatory insurance requirements employers should be aware of? These are big questions, and if left unaddressed employers could face costly outcomes both legally and to the business.

To help clear up some of the uncertainty around international travel insurance requirements, today’s article looks at the travel insurance requirements in key locations, what employers should be aware of when purchasing travel insurance for employees, and further discusses the differences between travel and international health insurance.

Knowing the international travel insurance requirements of your employee’s destination

Recent news about Thai officials calling for mandatory travel insurance has highlighted the importance of ensuring that employees have adequate international travel insurance coverage when going abroad.

Due to skyrocketing medical costs, uninsured visitors can be a large liability for state healthcare systems, which is why an increasing number of locations have already made or are in the process of making travel insurance compulsory.

Here, we’ve identified some of the countries that have already implemented mandatory international travel insurance regulations:

Schengen countries

The Schengen area covers the majority of European countries except for the UK, as well as a few other countries such as Bulgaria and Croatia. One of the documents required to apply for a Schengen visa is proof of insurance that covers “any medical emergency with hospital care and travel back to one’s native country due to medical motives”. The travel insurance policy must also have a minimum medical coverage limit of EUR 30,000, and should be valid within the whole Schengen region and for the full duration of travel.

schengen italy
The UAE

Travel health insurance is mandatory for anyone applying for a UAE visit or tourist visa. Insurance policies must cover inpatient accident and emergency expenses incurred while the visitor is in the UAE, with a minimum coverage limit of AED 150,000. Repatriation of remains must also be covered.

It must also be noted here that employers are legally required to secure compliant medical insurance coverage for foreign workers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Employers who fail to adhere to the respective Emirate’s specific minimum coverage requirements will be charged hefty fines, and employees who do not have adequate insurance will not be granted new or renewed visas.

Ecuador

As addressed in our recent article on Ecuador visa requirements, those staying longer than 90 days in Ecuador must secure and show proof of having either international travel insurance or a health insurance policy that will cover the visitor for their entire stay in the country. Foreigners granted a Temporary Residency or Permanent Residency Visa must either show proof of having private health insurance or be affiliated with Ecuador’s social security system.

ecuador

Cuba

Visitors to Cuba must show proof of travel health insurance to immigration before they are granted entry. Policies must at the very least cover medical emergencies, medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains.

cuba

In addition to the above countries, other locations that have recently introduced mandatory travel insurance regulations include Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Russia. As mentioned above, Thailand is also deliberating over a proposal requiring all foreign visitors to obtain international travel insurance before entering the country.

Things to be aware of when purchasing travel insurance for employees

One thing to be aware of when purchasing travel insurance is that the cheapest plan is in most cases not the most optimal and best value policy. Some travel insurance companies may issue very basic travel insurance for visa application/ entry purposes, but usually offer only very basic coverage with low limits and an extensive list of exclusions. Therefore, it can pay to search around for a travel insurance plan that offers higher levels of protection for all sorts of health and business travel related contingencies.

Please note here that even if you’re sending staff to a country that does not legally require insurance coverage, it’s still a good idea to consider what type of insurance coverage might be essential, since the employer is ultimately responsible for the health and safety of their employees. An ill or injured employee can be disruptive to your business, but one that can’t pay for care can represent a bigger problem.

Travel or international health insurance?

While travel insurance can be the best option for employees going away on short international assignments or visiting conferences, it’s likely not the best option for employees on mid-to-long term secondments or expatriation. Travel plans are generally of a short term nature intended for stays of between three to six months, and while they offer travel-related benefits such as emergency evacuation, as well as lost baggage and delay coverage, its health benefits are often limited to emergencies only.

International insurance plans, on the other hand, offer far more extensive medical coverage in both the employee’s home country and abroad. They provide coverage benefits in virtually every country and hospital in the world, and are also specifically designed to cater to the healthcare needs of globally mobile expats. They also often feature the option of including added benefits like dental, maternity, vision and other wellness benefits.

Get in touch with Pacific Prime today

Insurance can be a very complex market and trying to work out the travel health insurance requirements for your employees at the same time can be daunting. If you have any more questions or are unsure about your insurance obligations as an employer, the experienced corporate team at Pacific Prime can guide you through your options and specific requirements to ensure that your company and staff are protected at home and abroad.

To discuss your insurance requirements, contact the corporate team at Pacific Prime today!

Valuing employees key to managing staff retention: Using benefits to show you care

Corporate man reads the business pages outside a coffee shop, symbolizing how people are interested in reading about employee benefits and staff retention

Managing for employee retention takes some strategic thinking and sincere actions to ensure that your staff remain committed to championing your company’s cause. In today’s uncertain economic climate, efforts to re-engage and keep your staff motivated are challenged by the fact that you, like many businesses, might be planning to keep budgets for raises relatively flat. You might have room to reward top performers who have augmented your business during the year, but how do you retain those who just need a little extra time and effort? Valuing employees by offering bonuses in the form of employee benefits can be helpful.

Flatter compensation budgets expected

According to Aon Hewitt, employers in the US aren’t projected to spend more on compensation budgets for 2017. The company’s 2016 Salary Increase Survey found that challenging conditions for businesses and international competition were hampering what businesses were forecasting to spend on staff salaries. Base pay was expected to rise 3.0% in 2017, with spending on variable pay projected to make up 12.8% of payroll. This is despite the local job market improving, meaning many companies may now face more competition for the top talent around.

For businesses looking to attract high performers, or those concerned about trying to retain valued employees in this market, the global professional services firm suggests reconsidering your compensation strategy or emphasizing other benefits. That fact is even more important when you consider that a separate Aon Hewitt report found that lackluster compensation is the reason for 52% of US workers being open to a new job opportunity, and 44% saying they were actively looking for a new role. Only 38% of workers felt they were fairly paid, while 62% recognized pay and benefits as a leading factor in where they would choose to work.

staff retention represented by staff working in a modern office utilizing good employee benefits

Staff retention: why do employees stay or leave?

Salary is obviously still a very strong motivator for individuals; a good pay package earned through hard work can keep staff with you, while an attractive offer from a competitor might entice them away. Sometimes the reasons are things you can’t help; your staff member wants to start a family, they want to return to school, or other personal factors causing them to voluntarily leave a solid position. Focusing on employee retention, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), can also deliver quality, productivity, performance, and employee morale benefits to companies found valuing employees.

Why people leave a company

Here are some common reasons why people, in today’s job market, might consider leaving you for greener pastures:

  • Employee dissatisfaction: This can be anything from a general sense of disconnection from the role, the business, or discontent for the work environment or the people they share their daily time and space with. Those with good skills who feel taken advantaged of, those whose abilities are feeling stifled, or those who simply don’t feel valued because their workplace comfort isn’t a concern of the company, may all start looking elsewhere for a better offer; even if the salary doesn’t compare to what you already pay them.
  • Attractive alternatives: Those who are ready to be recognized more for the work they do may consider leaving a good role with a good environment if they feel the alternatives on offer do a better job of seeing their worth. The bump in salary doesn’t even need to be that high. According to a Gallup survey, 44% of employees would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20% of less. Add generational considerations into the mix, and you’ll also find that 93% of Millennials have changed employers for advancement rather than taking a new position with the same company.
  • Planned/unplanned exits: As mentioned, some employees have personal or professional plans they’re following; to either get married and have children, or to gain enough experience and financial security to move abroad. Others will leave without a map for where they’re headed. Impulse resignations can indicate an individual employee may have found they weren’t the right fit for your business, or it can indicate problems in your workplace (such as harassment or bullying). In both cases, lessons can be learned around what you offer in pay and benefits, and what pulled them away.

Why people stay with a company

Beyond the obvious reward and recognition reasons for why employees stay loyal, here are a few things that help staff retention you might not have thought about:

  • Foundations and networks: The SHRM article further highlighted that employees who have become embedded in their jobs and communities find it harder to justify leaving, as they have developed a web of fulfilling and positive networks and relationships. Leaving for a new employer can mean having to reestablish these connections, often setting an individual back months or even years.
  • Company culture: Employee turnover is costly. Not having a clear and defined organizational identity (with values and goals) can be the difference between whether you or your exiting employees control your workplace culture. If you continually hire staff that don’t fit the culture you want, you’ll quickly find those who do will leave for places that better align with their values. Attracting and retaining people who mesh well with your company environment will reinforce to your current workforce your commitment to valuing employees by ensuring they’re surrounded by like-minded individuals.
  • Employee benefits package: Perhaps as an effect of decades of constrained wage negotiations, coupled with the changing way employment and careers are being perceived by younger generations, non-salary benefits are growing in importance for job seekers and the currently-employed alike. According to a Towers Watson (now Willis Towers Watson) survey, 46% of respondents said health care benefits were the most important benefit for people considering job offers. For retention, employees highlighted retiree medical benefits and health care benefits as the most important reason they stay with an employer.

Employee recognition transformation tech company, Bonusly, states that more than one-quarter of employees are in a high-risk-retention category, and more than half of all organizations around the world are struggling to retain some of their most marketable employee groups.

employee staring at a project board, symbolizing an individual's search for the right job and how important employee benefits for staff retention is

How can employee benefits package help my company with staff retention?

Valuing your employees is more than just monetary. More and more people are viewing benefits as almost a standard part of an employment package, meaning those companies solely offering salaries are doing themselves a disadvantage. According to the Glassdoor 2015 Employment Confidence Survey, 80% of employees said they would prefer new or additional benefits to a salary increase. Women and men were fairly even in their desire for employee benefits, while the number of younger people (18 to 34, 89%) willing to sacrifice money for perks were higher than their older counterparts (55 to 64, 66%)

Online publication, HR in Asia, has reiterated that the advantage in employment negotiations has shifted from the employer to the employee; workers are more fluid and less tied to a single employer for life, and many expect to find employment elsewhere within three years or less. This means taking into account what employees actually want in their employee benefits is even more crucial to ensuring high retention rates and saving yourself the cost of high turnover.

Again, Glassdoor found these employee benefits were valued highly by respondents:

  • Healthcare insurance (e.g. medical, dental) – 40%
  • Extra vacation/paid time off/annual leave – 37%
  • Performance bonuses – 35%
  • Paid sick days – 32%
  • Retirement plans/pension – 31%
  • Flexible work arrangements (working from home, flexitime) – 30%
  • Employee development – 19%
  • Tuition reimbursement – 18%
  • Employee discounts – 17%
  • Gym memberships/wellness programs – 16%

Career mobility confidence has increased for people who are employed, meaning they’re less concerned about having too few options should they decide to leave their current employer. Only half of employees, however, expect a salary increase, putting more emphasis on ensuring that not just having employee benefits, but having the right employee benefits will be key to showing how companies are valuing employees in fiscally-tight conditions.

Pacific Prime: supporting your staff retention with targeted employee benefits

As the Harvard Business Review will tell you, you don’t need a Google-sized budget in order to offer meaningful and attractive benefits to current and prospective staff. After health insurance or group health benefits, employees will place higher value on benefits that are of relatively low-cost to employers: flexible hours, more paid leave, work-from-home options. However, getting the biggest drawcard, medical insurance, right first can be a huge challenge for many companies.

Using a specialized broker like Pacific Prime can put you ahead of the rest by ensuring that you can get the right type of employee benefits package that fits your company culture, and meets the desires of the staff you value so highly. Our Corporate team has a range of solutions that are utilized by thousands of professional firms and businesses around the world, including:

Our difference is in our service. Most brokers will sell you an employee benefits plan and leave you to do the rest. At Pacific Prime, we provide ongoing administration and staff support for the life of your policy, and will work with you using our unparalleled broker framework and benchmarking process to ensure that your plan still delivers while remaining cost effective and competitive. Use our market advantage and decades of experience to ensure your company remains attractive, not just to new employees, but your trusted and valued staff too.

To discuss more about how Pacific Prime can support how your company is valuing employees, contact the Corporate team today!

 

Employee benefits for Millennials: what’s really going to attract young workers?

Two Gen Y people point out something in the sky, representing the search for employee benefits for Millennials

As more and more Baby Boomers retire, labor markets around the world are looking to the younger generations in order to source their new leaders and talent. While Gen X are the next in line age-wise, Millennial (or Gen Y) numbers already far outweigh the generation before them, and they’re already poised to take the reins. With such a large pool of talent to choose from, many employers have already begun wondering: do I need to tailor employee benefits for Millennials, and what sort of benefits will attract them?

This week, Pacific Prime discusses Millennial insurance matters. We’re looking at what the size of Gen Y workers will be, whether the insurance industry currently appeals to Millennial values, and what your business can do with your employee benefits to ensure that the best of this group see your company as an attractive employer.

Millennial demographics: just how big are they really?

The age definitions for generations can vary depending on who you ask, though generally Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1997 (making the youngest age 20 and the oldest 36 in 2016). Those before them, the Gen Xers, are usually smaller in number owing to their smaller year range of 1965 to 1980, while the largest generation by far has been the Baby Boomers; those born between 1946 to 1964.

According to US census data interpreted by think tank, Pew Research, the population dynamics between the generations are set for a massive shift in the next 30-odd years: 

Chart showing US population figures by generation, with Millennials holding the highest through to 2050

Why should I care about attracting Millennials?

All these figures go to show that if you haven’t already started hiring Millennials, you might want to start soon. The common belief is that Millennials are “job-hoppers”, and lack any sense of commitment and loyalty to an employer. However, businesses should consider the times in which Gen Y have been entering the workforce. According to Morgan McKinley, Millennials have endured a number of recessions in their lifetimes already; 1998, 2001-2002, and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008-2009, meaning much of their working lives have been marred by uncertainty and downturns.

A PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) report indicated that more than half of Millennials chose to make compromises when looking for work in such turbulent times. For many, the GFC in 2008 struck as many were graduating university and entering the labor market. They saw their elders being laid off in redundancies, watched friends and peers being rejected for jobs their education years had promised they would find, and many learned to lower their expectations in terms salary and benefits.

What Morgan McKinley have found, in contrast to common misconceptions, is that Millennials are extremely loyal and committed workers. The flip-side to this is that business owners and employers have to work much harder than any generation before them to earn that loyalty and trust. The past few decades have proven that loyalty and hard work can still result in layoffs, so being agile and resilient in the workplace is key to their survival.

Time, however, is wearing upon Millennials and young workers are beginning to prioritize job security much higher than before. As their wealth and assets accumulate, many are seen to be pessimistic about finding new job opportunities. That said, businesses still have time to secure Gen Y workers who come with the sort of resilience, adaptability, and pragmatic skills that can help your company weather disruptive business and economic environments over the next few decades.

Millennial girl with an iced coffee and her mobile phone, displaying some characteristics of Gen Y

Gen Y characteristics: understanding the Millennial

Attracting Millennials with employee benefits and insurance packages can be a difficult task; young people have been notoriously profiled for having little interest in even working in the industry. In general, marketing of insurance products and benefits to Millennials has been slow to adapt to their potential billion dollar buying power. Finding the best way to pitch employee benefits for Millennials should start with understanding who they are. In short, Millennials are:

  • Tech savvy: Gen Y are full of digital natives who were raised in a digital, media-saturated world, are able to adapt quickly to new technologies, and can be incredibly judgmental of products and services with poor customer and user experiences.
  • Social: Millennials are more likely to contribute thoughts, opinions, and experiences via the internet, engage more with businesses and organizations through social media, and participate in social action and community events.
  • Educated: In 2015, 1-in-4 Millennials held a university degree. This may seem strange to those who think of this generation as coffee technicians at your local fair trade cafe, but there is evidence that show that some Millennials are indeed underemployed; working in unskilled jobs or unpaid internships for employment experience while they search for better opportunities.
  • Debt-laden: Due to the high cost of tertiary education, many Gen Y graduates are saddled with high debt before they even start working. This has led to a trend for younger workers to get married and start families later in life, as well as holding back on deciding to own their own home. According to another PwC report, the median age of first-time US home buyers reached the highest age it has been since measures began in 1970; 35 years old.

Furthermore, you can also expect Millennials to prefer to engage with services and products better if they support a public good, or provide a positive social impact. Like other generations, Gen Y can be mistrustful of the insurance industry for the fact that it’s an area where it can be accepted that both sides game the system. Younger workers are highly aware of their own social responsibilities, so you can expect them to turn off from services or organizations that are perceived to cause others harm.

Male Millennial in a suit searches through a crowded street

Attracting the best young talent with employee benefits for Millennials

Tailoring your employee benefits plan to better align with the nature and goals of Millennials will be key to ensuring your business gets their choice of the generation’s top talent. As benefits plans can be different, here are a number of key considerations to understand when developing your workplace package:

1. Go digital

As digital natives, it’s important that Millennials have access to information and services easily and instantly. This can be as simple as providing documentation in a digital format, to leveraging well-designed online platforms such as HR or integrated insurance portals, mobile device applications, or a service provider with a good online user experience. Employee benefits for Millennials should be as digital as possible; no one likes fluffing around with paperwork these days.

2. Push preventative coverage elements

For all of their concerns, their immediate health is often not something most young workers think to consider yet. However, many Millennials are in the stage of their life where embedding good health habits and taking care of their wellbeing is important. Attracting Millennials with robust preventative elements (such as vaccinations, gym memberships, nutritional advice) and explaining their benefits can go a long way in presenting them with the view that you care about your employees.

3. Keep it simple

The downside to being a generation bombarded with various media and distractions every minute of the day means that anything that takes a long time can be a turn off. When it comes to building your employee benefits for Millennials, ensure the benefits and services are easy to use. This can be as simple as using health providers with wide networks and direct billing, to selecting services that use gamification to engage consumers in otherwise tedious matters.

4. Allow flexibility and customization

If possible, you can hook Millennials in by allowing them to personalize the employee benefits you offer. This doesn’t mean creating a new package for every employee; attracting Millennials can be as easy as providing a package of main benefits (such as health insurance) to all employees, and then giving staff the option to pick additional coverage (such as increased dental, extra days off, or personal development tuition support). Providing employees with new options at certain milestones can also be a good way of securing long-term commitment and loyalty.

Getting help with employee benefits for Millennials

Maybe your business is getting ready for a significant change in the makeup of your employees, or you’re an HR expert looking to get one up on your competitors when searching for new talent. When it comes to attracting Millennials, the best decision you’ll make will be to engage with an experienced employee benefits broker. Our team are constantly reviewing and redesigning the employment packages of many professional clients, helping them to find the best benefits solutions for their current and future staff.

To learn more about how Pacific Prime can help with your corporate solutions, check out our website here or contact our staff directly today!