What happens to benefit programs in the “New Industrial Revolution”?

Category: employee benefits, compensation

What happens to benefit programs in the “New Industrial Revolution”?


I’ll be heading to the ABA International Law conference this week in Washington, D.C. to participate in the panel, “The Accidental Tourist: How Domestic Laws May Affect Global Employment Policy and Practice.” Our panel will offer concrete advice to employers trying to expand “standardized” policies (including benefit plans) to different employee groups, even globally.

Our panel discussion will necessarily consider how employer decisions are impacted by what some are calling the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” – our new normal of living and working amidst disruptive technological advances. Ultimately, these seismic tech changes are forcing employers and all of us to rethink how organizations create value and how we work best together.

Benefits and compensation plans can be difficult to localize. Employers often try to scale a successful benefits program – such as a bonus or pay plan, medical plan, or retirement program – from one employee group (or one facility) to a larger group (or globally). Increased levels of “connectivity” can help mobilize these initiatives. Those efforts are complicated, however, by myriad legal requirements, shifting cultural paradigms, and a transient talent pool.

At our ABA panel, we’ll consider pitfalls facing employers in this space and discuss some best practices for employers aiming to scale their benefit plans and policies, including how to:

  • Identify a benefits strategy as a framework for implementing management decisions and accommodating diverse constituencies.
  • Understand current benefit programs and eligibility and vesting provisions.
  • Collaborate with corporate audit teams, and conduct internal audits to ensure local benefits are aligned with globalized policies.
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities, and establish and follow operational protocols.
  • Streamline benefits processes, and leverage internal and external resources, to improve benefits management.
  • Identify areas of potential for significant long-term returns (e.g., wellness initiatives, defined contribution plans, and merit-based initiatives) and track them.
  • Monitor national, state and local laws and tax issues.
  • Follow corporate governance principles consistently and keep management informed.
  • Use third parties when appropriate for administration, legal and compliance guidance, and training.

I hope to see you at the conference. Viva la revolución!

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