Multinational employers based in Canada and the U.S. spend significantly more on their benefits packages than those in other regions, according to a new survey by U.K.-based Darwin Technologies Ltd.

The benefits management and employee engagement company found more than a quarter (27 per cent) of North American survey respondents said they spend more than 25 per cent of their salary bill on benefits each year, compared to just 14 per cent of employers in the rest of the world. In addition, 10 per cent of North American respondents said they don’t know how much they spend on employee benefits, compared to four per cent in other regions.

The survey also found employers in Canada and the U.S. are less confident in the quality of their benefits data compared to their global counterparts. Indeed, 20 per cent of North American respondents said they don’t receive quality data, while just 12 per cent of global respondents said the same.

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“Teams in these [North American] regions are spending more on employee benefits than their global counterparts and carry out a great deal of data analysis to report on general issues within the business,” noted the report. “However, data quality is generally poor [and] they are not using it effectively when it comes to benefits. This analytics work has also not helped them achieve as many improvements as respondents in other regions.”

According to the survey, 76 per cent of Canadian and U.S. respondents said they use data to report on employee engagement, compared to 62 per cent of global respondents. And this trend remains true across a number of categories — 66 per cent of North American employers use data to report on employee well-being, 61 per cent use it to report on benefits take-up levels and 55 per cent use it to forecast employee’s retirement readiness. Looking at findings for global respondents, these percentages were 49 per cent, 49 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively.

Survey respondents were also asked about business improvements facilitated by acting on the insights generated by data analytics. More than half (54 per cent) of global survey respondents achieved employee engagement this way, compared to just 50 per cent of North American respondents. And the numbers were also low for Canadian and U.S. employers in other areas, including improved effectiveness of the benefits plan (40 per cent) and improved return on benefits investment (21 per cent).

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“The U.S. and Canada are ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to prioritizing a consistent experience for their employees across the globe,” said the report. “However, this will be hard to achieve while they continue to manage and administer the majority of their benefits at local and regional levels.

“By continuing their focus on [human resources] centralization and data and analytics, not only will teams be able to catch up with their peers around the world when it comes to generating positive outcomes as a result of acting on data insights, but HR and benefits teams will be in a much stronger position to meet their key goals.”