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Viewpoints Q&A: Thailand’s Benefits Trends 2021 and Beyond

Health and Benefits|Wellbeing

October 25, 2021

Employers reshape benefit strategy with a focus on wellbeing and personalized employee experience.

With the impact of COVID19, complex pressures are compelling Thai employers to evolve their approach to benefits, all while keeping their finger on the pulse of employee health and wellbeing.

In our latest Thailand's Benefits Trends 2021 and beyond webinar, we have received many insightful questions from our audience during live session. Therefore, we have collected the most frequently asked questions from our attendees and have our local team of experts provided answers to each of the selected questions below.

Q – “If our company is a start-up and still in an early stage where budget is not big enough to spend on good benefit programs, how should we attract talents to work with us?”

A – We understand about cost and financing challenges that companies face, and we will suggest to start with understanding your baseline and build up a sustainable benefits program along the years. Suggested framework as below;

  1. Market review (benefits benchmarking) : to know what other local companies are providing.
  2. Employees’ voices: Listen to employees what they truly want (choices & flexibility can be the discussion) through a short pulse survey.
  3. Feasibility review and Plan design – consolidate employees feedbacks and study whether the feasibility (Vs Budget)

Q – “Any insights on designing benefits to tie with employee purpose?”

A – Employee engagement is usually key. What we suggest is to know your baseline and listen to employees to understand what they truly want. From there, you can build on a meaningful benefits program that tie with employee purpose. It also depends on the demographics of the organization. Different stages require different life purpose and that’s where you can start enhancing your current program to tie with various employees’ purposes.

Q – “What are methods to support mental health for employees?”

A – Companies can consider options available in the market whether EAP or Health Talk session. However, we understand that mental issue is unique to individuals, if budget allows, company can consider introducing a benefit that employee can access to a personalized approach when it come to metal health i.e. a private session with physiologist or any activities an individual believes it’s beneficial for them (flexible spending account is a good approach for this).

Q – “What are the key changes in benefits do you foresee in the next few years when considering Work from Anywhere trends in Thailand? Or are the changes mostly seen in work tools more than benefits?”

A – Future trends would include the following elements:

  1. Focus on employee wellbeing, where mental health is key
  2. Offer choices and flexibility
  3. Operational efficiency through technology. A digital solution for benefits – employees can access to their benefits by a finger touch, 24/7.

In addition, considering office settings have been changed, where virtual office or “work from anywhere” has gained more popularity, benefits must then be accessible from anywhere as well, i.e. a company provided gym (fixed location) may not suit the future trends.

Q – “Could you share what kind of Mental Virtual Health which is used the most in Thai Market?”

A – EAP and health talks are prevalent in Thailand when it comes to mental wellbeing benefit offering, however, we may need to consider whether we want to follow market or we want to introduce a benefit that is really beneficial to your employees.

Q – “Can you give examples of Wellbeing calendar?”

A – In a 12-month period, a company can plan to have different wellbeing activities to engage employees throughout an entire company calendar year. Type of activities and frequency are unique to each company considering factors such as; company size, channels used to engage with employees, etc. For example, a company can plan to have an activity every 2 months, focusing on one of the 4 wellbeing pillars (i.e. January for Financial wellbeing, March is for Mental wellbeing, etc.)

The key highlight would be that each activity must be designed to gain enough employees attraction and considered valuable for them to attend the session, which can be achieved through listening to employees’ voices.

Q – “In reference to metal support that employees can have flexibility to choose, what do we call this type of benefit in flex item?”

A – Flexible Spending Account or FSA, this can be a part of your company flexible benefits program

Q – “Is FSA considered employee income?”

A – Yes for non-medical treatment benefit and no for medical treatment benefit.

Q – “Flexible benefits that company budgeted for each year, do employees need to pay tax?”

A – Taxable except medical expenses.

Q – “What is the % of budget proportion between flex and core benefits?”

A – This depends on the design. There are factors such as budget goal and other focus involved when it comes to a company flexible benefit program design. The right % of budget proportion of flex vs core has to be built within the set principles of the design i.e. financial situation, employees’ needs etc, which is unique to each company.

Q – “During this time, there is an increasing trend in implementing WFH policy in many companies. What type of employee benefits should we focus in this WFH era?”

A – Mental health issue has been acknowledged globally and from the survey it suggests that companies put support on their employee mental health as priority. In addition, given work-from-home condition, some benefits such as company provided gym at a fixed location may need to be reconsidered or revaluated of its benefit value.

Q – “Is there any survey data indicating the sharing ratio of employees WFH % vs. employees Work-at-Office % that most companies will implement post-covid?”

A – Over 50% of participating companies are getting their employees back to work in the office, and less than 50% are considering working from home.

Q – “Now, with COVID19 situation, if we want to improve our employee wellbeing in the social aspect, what are the available tools or practices for this?”

A – There is a mobile application that companies can leverage to create group activities such as exercise, work-out competition, which will also help promote employee engagement for the companies.

Q – “Any WOW benefits you would like to recommend?”

A – From what we see, future working benefits include a lot more elements into wellbeing. So, the WOW benefits should not only “fit” with your employees needs, but also showing that you are taking good care of them. Some of the cases that we work with include TGIFs where companies introduced Friday early time off at 4.30pm, or Fridays’ afternoon wellbeing off, have a meal with your family, etc.

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