Only 22% of global or regional benefits managers in multinational organisations have access to comprehensive and timely financial data on the cost of their global benefits programmes, according to research by Towers Watson.
Its 2014 Current and emerging global benefits themes research surveyed 492 professionals in reward, pensions and benefits roles in Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and North America.
More than half (55%) are not able to obtain comprehensive and timely financial data on the cost of their global benefits programmes.
The research also found that 28% of respondents have increased their internal resources for managing global benefits programmes in the past 12 months, while 31% expect these resources to increase over the next 12 months.
More than a third (42%) of respondents maintain a structured inventory of the benefits programmes they offer to employees on a global basis, while 43% do not.
Mark O’Brien, senior consultant at Towers Watson, said: “It is striking that global and regional benefit managers at many multinationals, which often spend hundreds of millions of dollars on employee benefits annually, do not have this vital piece of information.
“Nowhere else within their businesses would such a lack of management information or oversight be acceptable. The underlying information exists, but needs to be extracted in a structured manner from finance systems, which is often the difficult part.
“Notwithstanding, we see more advanced multinationals allocating the resources necessary to address this so they can use information on benefit spend to help identify risks and opportunities, make decisions and prioritise their activities to increase the return on investment from their benefit plans.
“From our work with many different multinational [organisations], we observe that the most effective strategies integrate a number of different aspects, but that [organisations] often lack the experience to develop fully effective, integrated strategies.
“This limits their ability to fully realise many of the opportunities to drive business value from benefits provision that more advanced multinationals achieve.
“For example, [organisations] that benchmark against their peers and systematically review their own activities and programmes gain information and insights that help them to quickly focus on making effective changes to their global benefits management strategy.”