In this issue: News | Market Updates | Legislative Updates | Success Stories | Innovations | Events & Webcasts

Driving employee engagement through benefits

Welcome to the first issue of Benefit Insights, Mercer’s quarterly update for benefits specialists – sharing news, industry and legislative updates, success stories and innovative solutions throughout Asia Pacific.

Although Asia Pacific is leading the way in terms of economic recovery, HR practitioners are still feeling the pressure of continued budget constraints, higher expectations and new growth targets. As employee engagement becomes a crucial element in HR strategy especially in the current climate, HR must maximize the return from their benefits investment by ensuring employees are engaged in their benefit programs. In this issue of Benefit Insights we share with you strategies on driving employee engagement through benefits, to equip you with the understanding and resources to be effective in meeting your employee engagement challenges.

Moving benefit strategies from cost containment to engagement

We all know that skilled labour was at its premium even before the financial crisis. Now that Asia Pacific is leading the way in terms of economic recovery, human resource practitioners in the region are bracing themselves for an even tougher battle for talent. While attraction and retention will always be key, employee engagement is also critical and often overlooked.

The article discusses what employers can do to win the hearts and minds of employees whose loyalty and commitment to their organization has waned and who may not be operating at peak performance.

Read this article
Leveraging smarter benefit programs to retain talent with an eye on costs

The article discusses why companies need to be more concerned with benefit programs in 2010 and how they can provide greater value to employees with the same or less investment, especially in India.

Read this discussion
Managing employee engagement through wealth and retirement benefits

Companies that want to reinforce their employee brand and retain key talent should be considering the holistic approach that wealth and retirement benefits play in engaging, retaining and attracting talent to the organization. Whether considering a retirement plan redesign, or simply wanting employees to connect with their retirement benefits, this article outlines some key actions for employers to take.

Read this discussion

In this issue: News | Market Updates | Legislative Updates | Success Stories | Innovations | Events & Webcasts

Success Stories

Disney engages employees in Healthy Pursuits
Competing in a fierce market for talent, and striving to hire the most creative, resilient and energetic workforce, the Walt Disney Company (Asia Pacific) in Hong Kong launched the Healthy Pursuits wellness initiative as a way to engage employees in a healthy lifestyle and differentiate themselves from competitors. Disney shares their initial success and the long-term wellness journey they have planned in maintaining a healthy, engaged and productive workforce through a program that also makes good business sense. Read the Disney story

In this issue: News | Market Updates | Legislative Updates | Success Stories | Innovations | Events & Webcasts


Employee retention programs on the rise
Benefits programs with features designed to encourage retention, such as long-term incentives, supplementary retirement benefits and supplementary housing benefits are gaining in market popularity. In China, for example, nearly half of companies surveyed in Mercer's 2009 China Benefits Survey have long-term incentives plans, a 10% increase from last year. Retention bonuses, restricted stock plans and stock option plans remain the top three most prevalent plans. Interesting to note is that more than half of the plans only benefit key talents and high performers. What is your company doing to retain employees? Find out what the market is doing

In this issue: News | Market Updates | Legislative Updates | Success Stories | Innovations | Events & Webcasts


  • WHO: Pandemic not over, WHO flu probe hears
    "Experts who planned the global drive against swine flu on Wednesday warned that the pandemic was not yet over and rejected charges they had been unduly influenced by the drug companies." (Agence France Presse, 14 Apr 2010) Article
  • India: Indian hospitals lure US patients with low costs
    "The country's leading hospital chains - Fortis Hospitals, Apollo Hospitals and Max Healthcare - have inked exclusive pacts with US corporates that will possibly lead to a fresh stream of patients seeking low-cost quality services..." (The Economic Times, 26 Mar 2010) Article
  • India: Coming soon to India - 'Portable' health policiest
    "Over the coming months, a majority of the population would be permitted to change their health insurer without having to lose any of the benefits that had accrued to them." (Business Standard, 18 Mar 2010) Article
  • China: China calls for expanding medical reform
    "Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday urged greater efforts should be made to expand medical reform this year." (Xinhua News Agency, 16 Mar 2010) Article
  • India: Government should be health care guarantor
    "The president of the Public Health Foundation of India, K Srinath Reddy, argues that the state should step in and be the architect of the entire healthcare framework." (Business Standard, 22 Mar 2010) Article
  • China: China's health care reform one year later - What's changed?
    “In April 2009, the Chinese government announced guidelines for healthcare reform, with the core goal of providing universal healthcare services to the country’s 1.3 billion people. China will invest RMB850 billion ($124 billion) on healthcare from 2009 to 2011, further stimulating demand for medical devices, in what is already one of the world’s fastest growing markets for medical technology. One year later, a number of new regulations and guidelines are in place that are beginning to reshape the structure of the Chinese healthcare industry.” (InMedica Research, 16 March 2010) Article
  • Singapore: Medisave health screening under study
    "The use of Medisave funds for health screening is under study. Experts will look into what makes up 'appropriate health screening', and how much it will cost." (Health Xchange, 10 Mar 2010) Article
  • Philippines: Cabral pushes voluntary price cut on drugs
    "Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said Saturday she wants more non-generic medicines available to Filipinos. ... Cabral said she is now studying the possibility of asking for a voluntary price reduction on non-generic drugs." (Manila Bulletin, 7 Mar 2010, via Dow Jones Factiva™) Article
  • India: A relatively low cost Indian health care plan
    "... Most private insurers offer medical insurance of up to Rs 10 lakh and public insurers offer a maximum cover of Rs 5 lakh. For a higher amount, a policyholder would have to go for multiple policies..." (The Economic Times, 12 Apr 2010) Article

In this issue: News | Market Updates | Legislative Updates | Success Stories | Innovations | Events & Webcasts

Market Updates

  • Global H&B Perspective
    As employers continue searching for ways to contain benefit costs, this Perspective looks at US health reform, including two government health programs; employee health education in Europe; insurance markets in India; and health care in Brazil. (Perspective, 12 Apr 2010, 30 pages) Article
  • EIU: Report comments on Asian health care funding balancing act
    "Asian governments need to find the right balance of public and private sector funding for health care financing to avoid the mistakes of the American and European systems." (Channel NewsAsia, 30 Mar 2010) Article
  • HRadio: Managing employees through the recession
    Organizations shifting out of cost-cutting mode may find that new human capital challenges require different managerial skills. Fermin Diaz explains the changing landscape for HRadio listeners and identifies key challenges. (HRadio, 19 Feb 2010) Listen
  • Singapore: Aims to control rising health care costs
    "...Touching on the hot topic of health-care reform in his keynote speech at a two-day Economist conference yesterday, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said politicians bore part of the blame for rising costs." (Straits Times, 3 Apr 2010) Article
  • China: Shanghai, first city to open social security system to foreign residents
    Shanghai has become the first city to open up the social security system to the expatriate group. Based on the new rule, foreigners and overseas Chinese who hold a Shanghai residence card and hold a work contract with a Shanghai employer can now enjoy the city's social security and benefits, such as medical insurance, pension and workplace-injury insurance, the same as local residents.
  • Singapore: Workplace health package for Singapore companies
    "Companies keen on helping their workers stay healthy and fit can look forward to a slew of measures from the Health Promotion Board (HPB). It will launch a workplace health package [to] provide companies with health screening and services..." (Channel NewsAsia, 9 Mar 2010) Article
  • Mercer: Update on AIG sale of AIA
    AIG has entered into a definitive agreement to sell AIA to Prudential, subject to Prudential’s shareholder and regulatory approvals. Article
  • India: Reinsurer plans to tighten reinsurance norms
    "In order to restrict the undisclosed exposure of non-life insurers, General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC), the national reinsurer, is planning to control the risk reinsured through facultative reinsurance arrangements." (Business Standard, 4 Mar 2010) Article
  • HRadio: Asian employers find voluntary benefits a cost-efficient way to boost morale
    Employers in Asia are finding voluntary employee benefit programs an attractive way to offer employees a wider array of choices in a more attractive benefits package. Shealli Lee of Mercer Hong Kong talks about the how the value, convenience and flexibility of these benefit programs increase employee satisfaction at no cost to employers, and explains the best way to present these programs to employees. (HRadio, 6 Oct 2009) Download mp3 | Download to iTunes

In this issue: News | Market Updates | Legislative Updates | Success Stories | Innovations | Events & Webcasts

Legislative Updates

  • Taiwan: Advances National Health Insurance reform
    A reform of Taiwan's national health insurance scheme, mainly with changes to the premium payment system and supervision of medical services, gained approval from the government's executive branch. (Insurance News Net, 13 Apr 2010) Article
  • Australia: Australian health reform dream near fruition
    "Kevin Rudd's goal of having the states agree to his health and hospitals reform plan inched closer to reality yesterday with the West Australian Liberal Premier, Colin Barnett, confident a deal would be reached at the April 19 leaders' meeting." (The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 Apr 2010) Article
  • Hong Kong: HK’s new budget includes health care, job measures
    Possible health care premium tax deductions, a supplementary health care financing option and HK$173 million additional funding for job market measures were presented in the Hong Kong financial secretary’s 2010-11 budget speech on 24 February. (Taiwan Today, 8 Mar 2010) Article
  • Taiwan: Proposes to extend unpaid pregnancy leave
    Women may take up to one year of unpaid pregnancy-related leave under a proposal from Taiwan's Council of Labor Affairs that could take effect as early as May. Appropriate medical certificates will be required. Employers face fines for noncompliance. (Hong Kong Government, 11 Mar 2010) Article
  • Thailand: Finance Ministry to amend insurance law
    "Health insurance costs are set to soar with the government deciding to impose service tax on payments made by insurance companies to hospitals in settlement of claims where policyholders had received cashless service." (The Economic Times, 27 Feb 2010) Article
  • India: Health insurance costs set to go up
    "Private health insurance fees are set to soar by close to 6 percent this year, double the rate of inflation, Health Minister Nicola Roxon revealed yesterday." (The Australian, 24 Feb 2010) Article
  • Australia: Private health premiums to jump by 6%
    "The Finance Ministry is preparing to amend insurance legislation to accelerate compensation payments to policyholders whose insurers went bankrupt, the Bangkok Post reports." (Bangkok Post, 4 Mar 2010) Article
  • Singapore: Cuts health subsidies for residents
    Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that permanent residents will have their health care subsidies gradually reduced by ten percentage points starting January 2011, to “further sharpen the distinction” between citizens and permanent residents. (MOH Singapore, 22 Feb 2010) Article
  • China: Allows insurance transfer for migrants
    Chinese migrant workers will be able to transfer medical insurance between workplaces as of 1 Jul 2010, according to a joint circular issued by China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance. (China CSR, 21 Jan 2010) Article

In this issue: News | Market Updates | Legislative Updates | Success Stories | Innovations | Events & Webcasts

Events & Webcasts

Mercer Signature Event: Australia & New Zealand HR Forum
Australia - March 2010 (Various cities), NZ - May 2010 (Various cities)

We are facing a new "post-GFC normal" and many Australian organizations require a mind-shift in terms of how they plan their workforces, manage their talent and reward, engage, and retain their employees. Analyzing and responding to these emerging trends in the workplace is critical for HR and reward practitioners.

Forum: Remuneration Trends and Human Capital Insights draws on Mercer's leading experts to bring diverse perspectives and offer practical solutions to challenges faced in today's changed business environment.
Details | Register

Webcast: Employee Health Management in China
Thursday, 13 May: 1:00pm - Shanghai, Singapore

Despite the rebound of worldwide economic downturn, 2009 was full of different risks posing both opportunities and challenges. How to deal with risks associated with benefit programs effectively becomes one of the keys to employers' continuous need to do more with less for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, health and well-being is increasingly crucial to support sustainable business operations and continuous growth.

This 60-minute webcast will provide an overview of the development and market trends of the general health management industry in China for companies to consider. Register today to hear Greta Mikelonis, China Health and Benefits Consulting Director from Mercer's Shanghai office, discuss the changes in company attitude, employer practice, future actions and other hot topic issues for health management in China.

Webcast: Reward and benefit strategies for driving employee engagement in 2010
Tuesday, 25 May: 2:00 pm - Singapore, Shanghai; 4:00 pm - Melbourne, Sydney
Pre-register to receive details on the webcast

Webcast recording: Benefits trends by industry - A look at specific benefit category trends in Asia

Drawing from Mercer's recently released benefits reports, Godelieve Kroonenberg, Asia Pacific Benefits Product Manager for Mercer, explored trends in specific benefits categories with an overview on Singapore, Hong Kong, India, China, Vietnam and Indonesia, with specific focus on the Hi-Tech, consumer goods, chemical, pharmaceutical and All-industries sectors.
View recording

In this issue: News | Market Updates | Legislative Updates | Success Stories | Innovations | Events & Webcasts