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5 key global benefits and wellbeing trends to watch in 2023 and beyond

5 key global benefits and wellbeing trends to watch in 2023 and beyond


With workforces becoming more geographically diverse, there comes the need for global consistency in benefits management and delivery.

In 2023, employee wellbeing remains a priority to employers, with 47% of those surveyed reporting that it is a fundamental part of their workforce strategy.

While employers have been focusing on employee health and wellbeing, recent developments such as the end of COVID-19, economic fluctuations, and rising inflation are changing the way that society views wellbeing and the role of employers in providing such benefits, causing a shift in these programmes from a corporate responsibility to a strategic imperative.

On the topic, Business Group on Health has surveyed 184 large employers to release the 14th Annual Employer-Sponsored Health and Well-being Survey: Well-being’s Path Forward. Following this, it also identified five key trends to watch for when it comes to designing and implementing global benefits and wellbeing programmes, derived from the survey

An expanded vision of wellbeing for global workforces

With greater importance placed on employee wellbeing strategies in companies globally, a broader understanding of wellbeing is developing. Wellbeing has become a complete spectrum spanning many aspects, including physical health, mental health, social connectedness, financial security, job satisfaction, and community.

Organisations can stand to gain a more engaged and productive workforce, and potentially lower turnover rates if they are able to fully understand extended wellbeing needs and provide more balanced and holistic wellbeing programmes.

The report further noted that successful organisations are those that recognise and adapt to these needs, ensuring that their employee well-being strategies are not only more balanced and holistic, but also in line with the changing landscape. This, in turn, allows them to benefit from potentially lower turnover rates and higher engagement and productivity in their workforce. 

A heightened focus on global consistency and governance

As workforces become more geographically diverse, there comes a need for global consistency in benefits management and delivery.

Employers are challenged with navigating complex administrative landscapes, promoting transparency, and maintaining a consistent employee experience throughout their organisations, while also ensuring that benefit offerings remain competitive and effective across various markets.

By maintaining consistent benefits policies and practices across all levels in an organisation, businesses can create an environment that promotes equity, regulatory compliance and informed decision-making. This global consistency can also establish robust governance structures. 

Moreover, this global approach to benefits governance was found to improve overall financial management by providing a clearer picture of benefits-related expenditures, which can often become obscured when programmes are managed and implemented locally without centralised governance. This allows for better insight into their spending, facilitating more effective budgeting and financial planning.

This trend is expected to also be seen going into 2024 as 80% of employers surveyed reported having a global consistency approach or actively developing a strategy. However, there are challenges in implementing these strategies, such as employee needs differing by country (63%) and a lack of providers delivering global solutions (38%).

Balancing cost and sustainability for health & benefits programmes

Despite challenges such as scarce resources and economic uncertainty, the focus remains on delivering impactful health & benefits programmes to employees in a cost-effective and sustainable way.

This can be done through innovative financing mechanisms, such as captives and multinational pooling, which are being explored as potential solutions – rising by 73% since 2016, it was highlighted. These strategies not only provide a more sustainable financial model but also offer opportunities for risk management and cost savings.

It is also important to forge strong partnerships with providers as collaborative relationships can yield efficiencies, drive innovation, and ensure the continued delivery of high-quality, impactful benefits programmes.

Looking forward, firms that successfully integrate balance cost and sustainability in benefit programmes are better positioned to weather economic fluctuations, maintain competitive benefits offerings, and thus, support the well-being of their workforce.

Inclusive and relevant benefit programmes for diverse workforces

As the global workforce becomes increasingly multigenerational and culturally diverse, firms are challenged with constructing benefits programmes that are both globally consistent and locally relevant. These programmees must consider different levels of access to appropriate care, ensuring that they meet the specific health and wellbeing needs of all employees.

Organisations should aim to address unmet health and wellbeing needs, pertaining to different generations, cultures, or other demographic factors, and provide critical and important care that may not be covered by local health systems.

Further, companies need to better understand the needs of traditionally underrepresented groups such as the LGBTQ+ community or individuals with cognitive or physical impairments for equity purposes. Following this, tailoring benefits programmes to meet these needs can foster a more inclusive, equitable workplace and ensure that all employees feel valued and supported.

However, a challenge faced in delivering such inclusive benefits is local cultural norms and governmental regulations can significantly influence what is considered appropriate or necessary regarding benefits.

As such, employers must strike a balance between global consistency and local relevance, ensuring that their benefits programmes respect cultural differences and comply with local laws while still meeting the overarching needs of their global workforce. This will be a key differentiator for employers as they enhance their employees' wellbeing, and create an inclusive and equitable workplace culture.

Smart navigation of a range of government mandates

Local and national government mandates have been a challenge organisations face when delivering employee benefits. These rules and regulations influence the development and delivery of benefits programmes across various regions.

From mandated childcare benefits and job protections in case of illnesses such as cancer to retirement and pension plans, a one-size-fits-all approach is not possible for global benefits programs. Furthermore, these rules and regulations greatly affect the availability and the cost of benefits.

Therefore, employers need to adapt to and navigate these mandates in each country in order to effectively deliver suitable benefit programmes. 

If you're keen to delve deeper into the latest trends and best practices in total rewards strategy and design, you and your team must attend HRO's annual C&B conference, Total Rewards Asia Summit - taking place in Singapore and Malaysia in July 2023. Click through the links to find out more or contact us here!

Lead image / Shutterstock 

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