Managing Global Benefits Employer-Sharing Discussion: October 11, 2022

Business Group on Health held the latest of a series of monthly calls for employer members to network on the most pressing issues impacting their workforces around the world. This call addressed efforts to recognize World Mental Health Day in the workplace and 2023 priorities for global employers.

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September 29, 2022

Recognizing World Mental Health Day

In honor of World Mental Health Day on October 10, employers shared how their companies marked the day. Strategies mentioned included:

  • Bringing adoptable animals to the worksite for a “Puppies and Ponies” recharge activity;
  • Leveraging the employee assistance program (EAP) to host a webinar;
  • Communicating available benefits to employees and family members including EAP, announcing enhanced services;
  • Manager training (like Mental Health First Aid) on a global scale;
  • Financial contributions to mental health organizations and charities; and
  • Making plan design modifications to ensure that medical plans cover mental health services, which is more challenging in some countries than in others due to shifting regulatory priorities. Employers can utilize a captive arrangement in these circumstances to allow for more flexibility in determining which services the company can provide and cover. Captives can also be a great resource in bolstering your global consistency strategy. Learn more in the article Business Group article, Utilizing Financing Mechanisms to Implement a Global Consistency Strategy.

During the discussion about World Mental Health Day, employers brought up important points about benefit communications. Several employers noted that they tailor communications to work personas, fictional characters designed to represent roles based on job responsibilities in an effort to hone in on their unique workplace stressors and how to use company resources to deal with them.

One employer has dealt with increased incidents of worksite violence in manufacturing plants, likely due to a number of causes, including the pandemic and burnout. In response, the company is planning several de-escalation trainings focused on guiding managers on how to have difficult conversations in the workplace. These trainings are framed around the importance of taking care of your own mental health: so that you’re prepared to handle difficult situations and avoid escalation of conflict.

2023 Priorities

As the end of the year quickly approaches, employers are turning to their top priorities for 2023. The Global Institute is conducting an annual survey on these priorities that will be available by the end of the year, but in the meantime, a number of key themes are emerging:

Global Consistency

  • Several companies will be focusing on gathering data and creating a global inventory of benefit plans for all countries. Global consistency is a growing and ever-present concern for employers, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic exposed inequities across the benefits experience. It has become a priority for companies to ensure an equitable, consistent and locally relevant benefits experience for employees regardless of their job role or geographic location.
  • As employers work to become more globally consistent, defining a governance strategy is more important than ever. Members can review the Business Group’s Global Benefits Governance Guide for more information on how to develop and reinforce their strategy.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

Along the same lines as global consistency, employers are prioritizing the expansion to a global scale of benefit programs that may already be present in their U.S. plans. These expanded benefits include transgender care, family planning, surrogacy, domestic partner coverage and adoption.

Economic Concerns and Cost Mitigation

  • As global inflation continues to grow, employers are seeing double- digit increases in health care costs outside the U.S., which can be especially challenging for employers without a captive arrangement. Employers should utilize their partnerships with brokers to manage costs and plan for difficult conversations with business leaders on budget strategy.
  • One company is doing a deep dive into claims data as part of its budget planning and claims cost projections. This employer is hoping to use networks within regions and countries to see where it can be more proactive about cost savings.

Well-being

Well-being continues to be top of mind for employers going into 2023. In addition to mental health coverage expansion discussed above, companies are focusing their attention on financial well-being and integrating well-being into the benefits renewal process.

Leave

Leave and flexibility are ever-growing high priorities for employers with a global workforce. One such company is looking to implement a more flexible leave policy to align with the existing unlimited PTO in the U.S for a company it recently merged with. Additionally, companies are experimenting with offering new and expanded leave categories, including bereavement, caregiving and menopause.

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