Pension Plans in Europe 2013: looking for the stability


There remain powerful incentives for pension plans to reduce equity-related volatility, in particular the regulatory environment and a desire on the part of corporate sponsors to mitigate the impact of pension plan volatility on their balance sheets. In addition, rising equity markets over the course of 2012 and early 2013 will have generally lifted funding levels, providing some of those plans on a path to a lower risk position with an opportunity to reduce equity allocations.

As Nick Sykes says -European Director of Consulting in Mercer’s Investments business- the Pension schemes across Europe, but particularly in the UK, remain on a path towards a lower-risk investment strategy.

This approach in reducing risk will not simply mean increases to government bond allocations and simple swap strategies. Instead, there would be increasing interest in assets that offer a relatively stable and inflation-sensitive income stream, such as ground lease property and infrastructure. Sophisticated LDI strategies are also proving essential for providing a greater degree of flexibility and responsiveness to changing market conditions

What is LDI strategy?

Liability-driven investment policies and asset management decisions are those largely determined by the sum of current and future liabilities attached to the investor, be it a household or an institution. As it purports to associate constantly both sides of the balance sheet in the investment process, it has been called a “holistic” investment methodology.

In essence, the liability-driven investment strategy (LDI) is an investment strategy of a company or individual based on the cash flows needed to fund future liabilities. It is sometimes referred to as a “dedicated portfolio” strategy. It differs from a “benchmark-driven” strategy, which is based on achieving better returns than an external index such as the S&P 500 or a combination of indices that invest in the same types of asset classes. LDI is designed for situations where future liabilities can be predicted with some degree of accuracy. For individuals, the classic example would be the stream of withdrawals from a retirement portfolio that a retiree will make to pay living expenses from the date of retirement to the date of death. For companies, the classic example would be a pension fund that must make future payouts to pensioners over their expected lifetimes (see below).

Below you can find a nice infographic elaborated by Mercer about how is the current situation of Pension Plans in Europe and what are the expectations.

Europe pension fund-MERCER-91

Borja Burguillos

How to develop a Global Total Compensation Model


Throughout the history, employers have been challenged with attracting, motivating and retaining employees.

During the past decade, the Compensation topic has continued mature. Increasingly, it has become clear that the battle for talent involves much more than highly effective, strategically designed compensation and benefits programs.

The evolution of Rewards

The most successful companies have realized that they must take a total rewards approach, emphasizing attraction, motivation and retention.

In this article we want to show the variables to taking into account to design develop and implement a Global Total Compensation plan successfully. We consider this as the previous step before to develop the whole Total Rewards Model, including concepts as “Performance & Recognition” and “Development & Career Opportunities”.

GLOBAL TOTAL COMPENSATION MODEL

Global Compensation Model_Borja Burguillos

4 phases and steps to consider

fixed pay

FIXED PAY

Fixed or base pay, also known as base pay, is nondiscretionary compensation that does not vary according to performance or results achieved.

It’s usually determined by the organization’s philosophy and pay structure.

  • Base pay

Fixed or base pay is the compensation paid to an employee for performing specific job responsibilities:

  • The definition of base pay can vary by country.
  • Base pay levels need to take into account variations in equivalent monthly salaries vary by country.
  • The bottom line to fixed pay practices need to be based on a competitive strategy for each country.
  • Types of Base pay

Once pay structures are built, the organization must determine how employees will be paid:

  • Salary: paid on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis rather than by the hour, generally to higher level positions.
  • Nonexempt / hourly rates: paid by the hour for a job being performed. An individual’s annual pay is dependent on the number of hours worked during the course of the year.
  • Piece rate: payment is based on an individual’s rates production. A payment is received for each piece or unit work produced.

variable pay

VARIABLE PAY

Incentive or Variable pay, also known as pay at risk, is compensation that is contingent on discretion, performance or results achieved.

Much of the innovation in compensation is occurring in the variable pay element. Companies are making greater use of variable pay programs by expanding them to a significantly broader portion of the workforce that they have in the past.

These schemes are adopted by many corporations in order to improve the employee morale and increase the motivation to work for the employees. Based on performance measures and metrics defined by the human resources of the specific organization incentive plans are devised and the specific mode of incentive is decided.

  • Bonus or Incentives

Bonuses or Incentives are delivered through plans that predetermine a performance and reward schedule. The incentive can be paid in an accounting period (month, quarter, year, multi-year) or upon an event (reaching an objective, completing a project, etc)

Organizations that seek to create a closer link between employee compensation and the risks of doing business have increased the prevalence of group/team incentives.

  • Commissions

Commission is a sum of money that is paid to an employee upon completion of a task, usually selling a certain amount of goods or services. Commission may be paid as percentage of the sale or as a flat dollar amount based on sales volume.

Employers often use sales commissions as incentives to increase worker productivity. A commission may be paid in addition to a salary or instead of a salary.

Commissions are cash payments, based on predetermined performance and reward schedule. They are typically based on sales or profit margin on those sales. Commissions are usually for sales employees.

Sales incentive plans matched to type of responsibilities: Customer identification, customer service or customer persuasion.

  • Profit-Sharing Plans

Profit- Sharing is a form of variable pay provided to all employees based on the profits of the company. Companies usually have predetermined goals and formulas for determining the amount that will be allocated to employees.

Profit- Sharing are typically implemented to achieve employee participation and identification with the organization’s success.

  • Performance-Sharing Plans

A variable pay plan that bases rewards on the performance of a combination of quantitative and /or qualitative measures. The objective increase employee identification with the organization’s success and increase employee understanding of what is important to the organization and communicate the basis upon which success is measure.

benefits

BENEFITS

Benefits are a core element of the Total Rewards Model. Benefits include Health and Welfare plans, Retirement plans and programs providing pay for time not worked. Over time, employee benefits have evolved from basic fringe benefits of insurance coverage and a few perquisites to wide a range of benefits designed to strike a balance between an employee’s personal and professional life.

  • Healthcare

Healthcare systems are influenced by the beliefs, values, culture and perceptions in different regions regarding the role of government in providing health care to its citizens.

The employers commonly supplement the government health programs with health care plans influenced by corporate objectives, competitive practices and the limitations of government programs. Limitations government-sponsored programs may include restricted access, limits on services/facilities, payments, reimbursement and gaps in coverage.

We can find as components of Medical Plans:

  • Medical coverage for dependants.
  • Dental plan.
  • Optical plan.
  • Hearing plan
  • Welfare

The factors that influence health and retirement benefits may also affect other benefits such as life insurance, disability and time off.

Depending on the type of benefit, statutory requirements, coordination with government programs, collective bargaining agreements and other influences may shape or define the final program, limiting employer flexibility in plan design.

In addition, offer wellness programs to employees are very useful to increase the satisfaction and healthy life.

  • Retirement and Investment Plans

Qualified retirement plans include both the traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans and defined contribution (DC) plans

    • DB; is based on a formula that considers pay and service (i.e. one percent of compensation for each year of continuing service). Provide better benefits to employees with long service.
    • DC; characterized by employee and employer contributions made to individual participant accounts
    • Hybrid plans; combine elements of defined benefits and defined contribution plans.
  • Other benefits
    • Housing Allowance
    • Transportation Allowance
    • Meal Allowance
    • Phone Allowance
    • Training Allowance

work-life

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Work – life is composed of offerings in the Total rewards package that address the unique individual needs of the employee. These offerings are important to the employee but may be less tangible than compensation and benefits.

Categories which support work – life could be:

  • Caring for depends
  • Supporting health and wellness
  • Creating a workplace flexibility
  • Flexible Work Hours
  • Financial support programs

After we have our Global Total Compensation model successfully implemented in our company it´s time to think about “Performance & Recognition” and “Development & Career Opportunities” thus completing the corporative Total Rewards Model required to get business goals.

Borja Burguillos & María López

Global Mobility: What talent is moving around the world?


Below you can see a interesting infographic made by Mercer Think about who is taking an international assignments and why.

Global Mobility is gonna be the main important challenge for HR during the rest of the century, so I would like to highlight the words of Anne Rossier-Renaud -Principal in Mercer’s global mobility business- whom said “Many companies do not have a clear selection process that would include assessing an employee’s suitability for an international assignment, whether at initial recruitment or upon assignment opportunity. Then, when qualified candidates are found, employers need to address potential obstacles to mobility, such as dual career and family issues, which may prevent candidates from accepting an international assignment”.

We have a long way to learn.

130513-MERCER-80-INTERNATIONALASSIGNMENTS2Borja Burguillos

What is HR Strategy?


Below you can see a infographic prepared by Maria Lopez & myself about how we understand should be the best way to implement a HR Strategy succesfully in order to get the goals proposed by the Business Strategy.

HR Strategy

Borja Burguillos

Total Rewards Strategy


Below you can see an elaboration own infographic with the explanation about how important is to have a defined and good Total Rewards Strategy in order to get the Business goals.

TotalReward strategy infografia

Borja Burguillos

What does “payment of gratuity” means in UAE?


Below you can see a infographic prepared by myself about how the payment of gratuity works in UAE.

Payment of gratuity by Borja BurguillosWhat do you think about this way of wage compensation? It could be good idea to extend to another countries?

I’ll wait your thoughts.
In future post I’ll try to analyze what are the advantages or disadvantages.

The Future of Human Resources


Lately, and I don’t know why but I use to read old studies about what they said about the future of HR.

It is at least curious to read what the experts said in the past and where we are now.

I just finish one study did ten years ago (2002) by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) called “The Future of the HR Profession Eight Leading Consulting Firms Share Their Visions for the Future of Human Resource”. In the study The following participated the most important consulting firm in HR in this moment –Accenture, Arthur Andersen, Hewitt Associates, Mercer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Resources Connection, Towers Perrin, Watson Wyatt Worldwide-.

It is worth reading the full study because you can take good ideas and think about it, but here you can read the main conclusion:

One of the questions SHRM posed to study participants concerned their view of HR’s most compelling work. Based on the ease and energy with which this question was answered, it’s evident there is no shortage of challenging work for HR professionals. From our consultants’ perspective, HR makes its strongest organizational contribution in the following ways:

As Strategic Partners, HR professionals are integrated within lines of business, working with executive teams to create people strategies that deliver tangible results.

Optimizing Total Rewards is a way for HR to work with senior management to find the right combination of pay, benefits, environment and learning opportunities to engage employees and reinforce company culture.

Achieving Flawless Execution in Employee Transactions is a primary role for HR. Outsourced administration or no—HR is accountable for the quality of service, accuracy and speed of employee-related processing and transactions.

Developing Metrics, to quantify in dollar terms the value HR initiatives bring to the bottom line, is the best way to ensure future investment in the HR function. Will human resources survive in an environment where new technologies replace many core functions and outsourcing vendors compete aggressively for HR roles once found solely within an organization? Right now, there are two things we know for sure: HR issues will always exist; and there will

From my point of view we are still in the same point. I mean, the process to consider as HR a strategic business continue go ahead and has been accelerated for economical crisis that we are living but as we might expect. We still have a hard process to get that the Head of HR has voice and vote the board of members of the company as a strategic area of the company.

Thanks to the internet the world is changing, now we are not in the Information era if not we just change to the Talent era, which means that everyone has access to all information that you could ever imagine. The info now is not power like in the past, the real power is how to interpret such a large amount of information and get the possible conclusions for the business. I call this new method to work “Collective Intelligence” and I don’t have any doubt it will be the big change during the XXI century.

In conclusion, if we want to have the best people in our organization to do business and get their “Collective Intelligence” we need put emphasis and know how the important is the HR area for our company. It depends the importance we give to us for HR area, our business will be more profitable. Here there is no way back, Top executives and CEOs who can see this point as the first and they start to consider HR as one of the Keys of the business will be successful.

Borja Burguillos

Flexible Benefits System: increasing the Total Compensation


The Flexible Benefits System (FBS) started in the US during the 1980s, is having a resurgence of popularity in many parts of the globe. When combined with compensation, the flexible benefits are more commonly known as “total rewards.” But there are many countries where flex alone is critical to employer strategies for workforce attraction and retention, as well as cost control.

Early, a Flexible Benefits System represented the first endeavor many HR leaders experienced with the concept of marketing their benefit plans. It was an effort to bring disparate benefits together in a unique package. Unlike a traditional plan in which “one size fits all employees,” FBS was seen as a way to appeal to unique needs within the employee population. Employees, hopefully, would find value in the packaging of the total benefit offering, gain better understanding of the cost and begin to make meaningful decisions about how much they wanted to spend. It was a significant shift away from the paternal role in which employers made all decisions.

The end result is a process whereby employees are more actively engaged in making decisions, and they begin to appreciate the financial value of the total package.

What drove employers to consider a Flexible Benefits System? We see striking parallels between the early FBS adopters and what today’s HR community faces. Maintaining the status quo is extremely difficult in a world where attraction and retention are constantly evolving. Key considerations in early flex programs and current programs are very similar:

These are some typical benefits with tax advantages if employee selects them across a Flexible Benefits System (it can vary by country).

  • Retirement Plan
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • House renting
  • Car renting
  • Meal Vouchers
  • School Vouchers
  • Training

This is a important advantage, because permit the employees enjoy the benefits and reduce his tax to pay (the two things at once)

The Designing a program is often the relatively easy part of the process, the success of a FBS often lies in how well it is communicated and implemented.

A well-designed program integrates four perspectives to support the overall need for a successful change management implementation.

Employer perspective. Analysis of workforce characteristics, variances across operating companies/divisions and emerging trends.

Employee perspective. Research about employee preferences by demographic group, business, and critical areas of hiring and retention. Identification of the most critical rewards that will enhance perceived value and impact on both recruitment and retention.

External perspective. Research about relevant competitor practices and expected direction. Understanding of regulatory and administration requirements.

Cost perspective. Assessment of costs related to all current and prospective programs and the potential for adverse selection.

One other important lesson learned from early the compensation flexible plans are the risk of offering too much choice. Not all employees value it. It can be overwhelming. Some employees will not trust it and therefore will not trust their employer. What are the risks?

Paralysis. People who have too much choice or don’t feel capable of making the “best” choice will avoid making a decision or they will assume they didn’t make the best decision.

Poor choice. People can make bad choices that don’t seem at all rational to an independent viewer. But sometimes employees make the easiest choice or one that is familiar and comfortable rather than one that is more difficult to make.

Regret. Even when someone makes a decision, they might have regret or buyer’s remorse about the choices that could have been made. The result of being overwhelmed with possibilities is that they are less satisfied because they doubt that they made the best decision.

Borja Burguillos