Our seventh annual Current and Emerging Global Benefit Themes research presented HR leadership at the global and regional headquarters level of leading multinationals with questions about benefit focus, themes, priorities, countries of interest and global benefit management.

Each year, multinational organizations commit extensive resources to providing and financing benefits for active and former employees, delivering benefit plans and, increasingly, implementing frameworks to oversee, manage and govern benefits globally. Multinational companies’ annual benefit costs are often hundreds of millions of dollars, with past commitments of several billions of dollars. This year’s research provides insights into how leading companies seize the opportunities presented by benefit provision to add business value.

Key insights include:

  • Opportunities to drive more value from employee benefits are ongoing
    Some multinationals are just beginning to gather data, and others have evolved their global benefit management practices over many years. In either case, companies need to continually refine or reengineer their organization, processes, programs and strategies to deliver more value for both employees and the business. Whatever their level of global experience, companies that benchmark against their peers and systematically review their activities move more quickly, avoid pitfalls and distractions, and achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Multinationals have significant opportunities to raise their global game
    Many opportunities are missed — or fail to be realized — when companies don't systematically manage global benefits as well as they could. To raise their success rate, leading companies have employed key financial management information, benchmarking, local benefit resources and the effective use of third parties — to name a few game-raising opportunities.
  • Benefit and pension focus is shifting
    Some themes are current, or short-term; others are more enduring, such as managing financial risk, benefit cost optimization, and effective handling of mergers and acquisitions. Organizational and operational models need to evolve alongside shifting priorities while meeting the relentless corporate mandate: Do more with less. Effective sequencing of priorities and thoughtful use of third-party support can help global and regional benefit managers respond to these challenges.

Our research findings show that multinationals’ current or short-term priorities in 2014 are:

  • Staying on top of benefit and pension financial risks
  • Improving the return on investment from benefit spend
  • Ensuring the fundamentals of global benefit management are in place, efficient and effective.