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5 keys to modernizing employee benefits

Part 5 in a series

Health and Benefits

By Bill Gulliver , Cecil Hemingway and Amol Mhatre | September 24, 2018

As we've been discussing throughout this series, several external drivers – from the changing nature of work and the workforce to digital disruption to employee expectations for transparency – necessitate a renewed focus on Total Rewards.
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Thriving in an uncertain world

Focus is essential for any company that needs to move ahead in a competitive market. In this series Willis Towers Watson experts identify five key areas of focus where organizations must change in order to thrive.

In Part 3 of this series, we looked at these and other factors driving the need to modernize and invest strategically in the right Total Rewards programs to optimize performance. Benefits are no exception to the need to modernize: Employees are seeking customization and personalization of their benefits portfolio, especially as the workforce becomes more diverse. Global benefit cost and risk continue to put pressure on company budgets, and benefits technology has created opportunities to improve the employee experience and the administration of benefit plans.

Given this context, “modernizing” benefits is not purely about revisiting the portfolio of offerings; it’s also about finding more efficient ways to deliver, finance and manage benefits programs.

Here are five important keys to consider when modernizing benefits delivery to meet today’s standards:


Offer a purpose-driven portfolio of benefits.

A healthy company culture embraces wellbeing, inclusion and diversity as part of its organizational purpose. Benefits that align with organizational purpose and culture, as well as mission and values, better reflect the company image and reputation. Modernizing the benefits portfolio means thoughtfully aligning with business strategy, desired culture, the Talent Value Proposition, market norms and employee preferences to achieve a purpose-driven program.

Consider: Voluntary options offer greater choice and flexibility in addition to core protection to help meet the preferences of an increasingly diverse workforce. Initiatives that go beyond traditional offerings to address employees’ physical, emotional, financial and social wellbeing should be considered as part of any modern benefits program.


Optimize the financing of benefits programs.

Low interest rates, rising health care costs and increased longevity contribute to the relentless pressure on companies to manage benefit costs, which are crowding total compensation budgets. Optimal financing is key to ensuring companies maximize the capital spent on these programs. This means allocating money effectively to programs employees most value and leveraging global scale to get the best deal on the benefits offered.

Consider: A systematic approach to measuring and evaluating risk enables companies to be more agile in their ability to capture legislative and pricing opportunities to reduce costs and transfer risks to third parties.


Bill Gulliver
Global Co-head of Retirement, Human Capital and Benefits

Cecil Hemingway
Global Co-head of Health and Benefits, Human Capital and Benefits

Integrated Solutions Leader, non-North America, Human Capital and Benefits

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