The average HR person in 2012 didn’t have to deal with and an increasingly remotely-based workforce worried about things like disenfranchisement due to AI or extended longevity – the world ending in December ’12, maybe, but certainly not longevity.
Today, Alexander Forbes’ held their 5th annual Benefits Barometer and Hot Topics Summit at Vodacom World conference centre in Midrand.
An industry-leading publication, Benefits Barometer touches on a range of socio-demographic and economic factors that will impact the world of work in South Africa in the context of a changing global environment. It was all geared towards how an employer can possibly adapt to the constant changing needs of employee benefits structures and offerings, and how a sophisticated, cutting-edge benefits solutions from someone like Alexander Forbes can help.
Thanks to their new partnership with Mercer, Alex Forbes had even more juicy data for us, which came down to the theme of the day again and again: “benefits that matter in the changing world of work”.
“Five years ago, when we first launched Benefits Barometer, our team could not have imagined the journey their research would take them on,” says Alexander Forbes’ Group Chief Executive Andrew Darfoor. “The future of work is changing. We need to more fully exploit the enhanced capabilities of data analytics and mobile communications to customise benefit structures in ways we have never been able to do before. This is where we believe Alexander Forbes has a different perspective. If we are going to meet the challenge of these global trends, promote human capital development to meet that challenge and provide individuals and their families with the sage counsel and advice to meet the financial, physical and mental demands of these changing times, we see the need for employers to play a critical role as agents for change.”
This theme continued into the day, with Alexander Forbes’ Anne Cabot-Allethauzer calling the trustees in the audience, those offering Alexander Forbes benefits solutions to their employees, “agents of change”.
Some of the changes to be dealt with that were touched on was the increasing potential irrelevancy of retirement in an age where experienced employees have the health and will to stay in the workforce, the default permanent employment contract becoming more increasingly a workforce of freelancers and temporary timeframes and the power dynamics between employee and employee ever alter and deepen.
“Five years ago when we started the barometer, benefits were very siloed,” said Alex Forbes’ John Anderson. “It was ‘I have my retirement benefits over here, my health benefits over there’, but that has changed and it is now much more holistic – because your health will affect your retirement, your access to childcare will affect your performance at work and so on. Many of us sitting here today after the reserve bank announced that interest rates were being reduced know that it’s not great. Across sectors, employees are feeling the pinch.”
It’s true, and there are going to need to be some seriously creative solutions for this. I plan on asking Alexander Forbes exactly what those solutions should be – not just with Alex Forbes, but across the board.