Thinking like a CEO… About Benefits

In an ever changing world it is hard to keep up with, much the less stay one step ahead of, executive leadership. Mercer’s CEO, Julio Portalatin, recently shared his thoughts on what’s top of mind for CEOs today. These three areas of focus extend into the benefits arena as well. Here’s how you can translate them into opportunities

1. CEO as a statesman. More and more companies are willing to take a stand on social, political and safety issues -- all of which can be amplified through the benefit program. Whether it is expanded benefit funding in response to tax reform, action to address the opioid epidemic, enhancing parental leave and women’s health benefits, or speaking out in support of medical marijuana, there are many opportunities to fuel your CEO’s talking points. Companies with a true sense of corporate purpose have been shown to grow faster. Research from the E.Y. Beacon Institute and Harvard Business School shows that over a three-year period, 58% of companies with a clearly articulated and understood purpose experienced growth of 10% or higher. Benefits have become a differentiator on Wall Street as well as in the war for talent.

2. Future of work and its impact. As we see the workplace evolve to include mobile workers, gig workers, and even robots, providing truly meaningful benefits becomes more challenging. We are moving further away from a “one size fits all”approach to benefits. Even though benefits professionals have historically supported benefit simplification, more choices are expected in a world where we can shop online and compare prices for anything from a phone to a 300-lb set of barbells and have it arrive on our door step the next day. Those expectations have become the norm at home and at work.

3. C-Suite retiring the word “retirement”. Two-thirds of people expect never to retire or to keep working after retirement. Millenials are open to working longer in order to maintain their lifestyle – although we’ll have to see if they still feel that way when they turn 60! Your benefit strategy needs to reflect what is important to each generational segment of the workforce. Certainly choice (in #2 above) plays a role, as does expanded financial planning and financial wellness resources. You may be surprised to learn that a higher percentage of baby boomers expressed interest in student loan support than did the youngest workers. Take time to become more familiar with your workforce and their needs.

It’s a tall order to try and think like a CEO, but it might take your program in an exciting new direction.

Tracy Watts
by Tracy Watts

Senior Partner, National Leader for U.S. Health Policy

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