EB Live Asia: Benefits programmes in Asia need to evolve

HR leaders need to update the standard suite of benefits programmes available to stay ahead of the game, said Bonita Lee, vice president of human resources, Asia-Pacific for GlaxoSmithKline, during a panel discussion at EB Live Asia 2012 in Singapore.

She added: “The list of benefits has not evolved in the last 10 years, and are often heavily focused on medical and insurance, with a couple of perks thrown in.”

The panel was moderated by Debi O’Donovan, editor of Employee Benefits magazine, which has partnered with Human Resources magazine to present the conference’s inaugural event in Asia.

Phan Yoke Fei, vice president of HR for SMRT Corporation, said that, with technology increasingly becoming commonplace, every HR leader needs to keep themselves up to date with the current trends so they will not be left behind.

He added: “With technology being everywhere, it’s become hard for us to use it as a differentiating point from our competitors.”

The panel also agreed it is critical to understand what employees want. Jim Pilarski, chief human resources officer for Marriott International in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, said HR should never make the mistake of assuming the needs of the workforce.

“Don’t stereotype certain people into certain categories,” added Timothy Cheong, group HR director at Banyan Tree Hotels.

The panel also added that there should be a core benefits package across the board, but employees should be able to choose from a menu for additional perks.

“Benefits need to be relevant to be meaningful,” said Lee. At GSK, focus groups are one of the key ways the HR team identifies the benefits most desired by staff, because it allows a clearer insight of what would work in that particular workforce.

Karen Clifford, director of HR for Towers Watson in southeast Asia, agreed, adding that focus groups allow leaders to directly address and clarify employees’ concerns, allowing “a more rounded” dialogue between the leaders and staff.

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This article was published with the permission of Human Resources magazine

EB Live Asia, a partnership between Employee Benefits magazine and Human Resources magazine in Singapore is taking place 1-2 August in Singapore.