Nearly half (47%) of multinational employers are into the later stages of developing their global benefits strategies, a 12 percentage point increase from two years ago, according to research by Willis Towers Watson.

Despite this progress, its Current and Emerging Global Benefit Themes survey found that 78% of respondents said they continue to be under pressure to do more with less, while 66% said cost pressures will be worse this year.

“It’s clear the purse strings are not getting any looser within multinational companies, yet somehow global benefit directors are finding a way to continue the development of their programs,” said Brian Makuck, North America Intellectual Capital and Integration lead for the multinational practice at Willis Towers Watson.

Read: Cost increases of global employer-sponsored health plans to reach 9.1%: report

“Multinationals that make resource management a priority may be better equipped to balance the realities of day-to-day management with the long-term essential business need to foster employees. By doing this, companies can make the journey to more comprehensive global benefit management quicker and easier.”

More than half (58%) of respondents said their day-to-day activities limit the strategic contribution ability to add value to their company’s global employee benefits program.

Some 75% said they believe their companies can be either more strategic or efficient across four staple foundations: sustained business contribution; insurable benefits put on an optimal financial/operational basis both globally and regionally; monitoring and managing the financial risks of defined benefit exposures; and corporate transactions that drive value.

Read: Benefits considerations for your international workers

Despite the difficulties identified, three-quarters of respondents said that involvement of global and regional headquarters in pensions and employee benefits is increasing, while more than half believe there is now a meaningful link between the role of pensions and benefits and the company’s employee value proposition and values.

“Global benefit directors should focus on core areas to improve value,” said Makuck. “Financial risks associated with defined benefit liabilities are a major exposure, so identifying longevity risks and appropriately managing them is important. In addition, insurable benefits must be financially accountable on a global, or at least regional, level to gain control of costs.”

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Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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