Posted tagged ‘Mercer’

Countdown to the 2012 HR Technology Conference

July 10, 2012

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall

This year’s HR Technology Conference is just twelve weeks away. It will be held in Chicago from October 8–10. Be sure to check out the agenda, especially the new outsourcing track, which includes the following presentations:

  • Cisco Uses RPO to Hire Up to 15,000 a Year, presented by Mark Hamberlin, VP of HR Global Staffing at Cisco and Rebecca Callahan, President of Randstad Sourceright
  • Ericsson Outsources Global Payroll in Manila, presented by Mark Howes, HR Director of Asia Pacific at Ericsson and Mary Sue Rogers, Global Managing Director of HR Managed Services at Talent2
  • Benefits in a Time of Uncertainty, a panel discussion including Artell Smith from Aon Hewitt, Brian Johnson from Fidelity Investments, Norbert Englert from Mercer, Gail McKee from Towers Watson, and Tom Maddison from Xerox Corporation
  • Whirlpool Leverages RPO to Transform Talent Acquisition, presented by Lynanne Kunkel, VP of HR at Whirlpool North America and Rudy Karsan, CEO of Kenexa.

I’ve attended the conference the last two years and continue to find it an invaluable investment of my time to:

  • Attend presentations
  • View technology exhibits
  • Network with peers.

Presentations: In addition to Outsourcing, session topics include:

  • Strategic View
  • Talent Management
  • Social in the Enterprise
  • Workforce Analytics and Planning
  • HCM and Workforce Management
  • Recruiting
  • Expert Discussions.

Whether your company has outsourced or continues to do everything internally, there are bound to be several sessions that will teach you how to improve HR in your organization and be a better business partner. When I was on the buy-side prior to joining NelsonHall, I would attend such HR conferences to:

  • Learn about the broader industry
  • Think about how our HR outsourcing contract compared to others
  • Get ideas on improvements we could make.

Technology Exhibits: Since technology is changing so rapidly, it is often difficult to keep up with new applications that are available. The conference is a great way to get exposed to a broad-range of recent innovations, e.g., ADP’s Mobile Application, talent management offerings, etc. You can stop by any booth and see a demo; there is no pressure and vendors are excited about their new products and services and are happy to show you.

So here is your chance to make a difference at your organization; you might stumble onto a better, more user-friendly technology for example. Even if you are not the decision-maker, you can always tell your organization about it when you return and request a customized demo. Alternatively, if you are already outsourcing, you might see something that you don’t have and can bring it to your provider’s attention.

Network: The conference provides an opportunity to expand your network with others including HR practitioners, buyers, providers, analysts, etc. I also like to meet individually with companies I do business with and others I want to learn more about. In addition to the daytime events, there are evening socials too. HR deserves to have fun!

As a reader of my blog, you are entitled to a discount. Register for the conference and enter promotion code HRO12 to save $500.

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Asia Pacific, Talent2, and HRO

June 15, 2012

Asia Pacific is the emerging market of the most interest to HRO service providers, especially RPO vendors. Most of the big names in HRO/RPO are building or expanding scale there to take advantage of the higher than average growth rates. ADP and NorthgateArinso are well-established in the region, and Futurestep, GP, Kenexa, ManpowerGroup, Mercer, and Towers Watson have all made recent acquisitions in China, Hong Kong, India, and Australia as the fastest way to get more feet on the ground in this expanding market.

Still considered an emerging market, some Asia Pacific countries are already mature including Australia and Japan, while others are truly experiencing the first rush of growth. Each country has different needs and challenges and HRO service providers need to bring a lot of service line experience and local knowledge to the table. While one industry needs a high volume of entry-level employees to meet demand, another, a bit further on the maturity scale, needs management-level employees with the experience to manage and continue growth of a more complex enterprise.

Newer entrants should not forget that there are regional providers already on the ground; one of the largest is Talent2, which covers the entire area and a bit beyond. Talent2 has continued its solid pace of contract wins across the Asia Pacific region. An example from the public sector is contractor procurement and management for 13 agencies of the Queensland government. In the private sector, contract wins included payroll, RPO, and learning, and cover Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and even the Middle East.

With ~1,700 employees, Talent2 supports 30 countries in 30 languages from its 46 offices and service centers located across 19 countries. With its scale and services it should be no surprise to find that Talent2 is, according to NelsonHall, the HRO leader in Asia Pacific.

Perhaps it is reasonable then that Talent2 has attracted interest from investors wanting to take it private. Morgan & Banks Investments (MBI) and Allegis Group have entered into an agreement to acquire the company, which will remain operationally as Talent2 if the deal is successful. MBI represents current major stakeholders and Allegis is already a Talent2 RPO partner. It will be interesting to see if privatization allows Talent2 to fuel even more growth in and outside of the Asia Pacific region.

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

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How Mercer’s HCM Views Impact HRO

June 11, 2012

Would you build a $4.5bn facility in Africa if you were not sure you could find the skilled workers to run it? That was the comment of a real CFO at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. Human capital management (HCM) was one of the hottest topics at the forum drawing C-suite leaders into a full day of discussions. Concern about talent shortages has reached #2 on the risk management list, and top business leaders are recognizing talent as both a key competitive factor in growth and its lack as a risk factor limiting growth, especially in emerging markets.

This was the opening conversation at Mercer’s analyst forum focusing on its Talent, Rewards, and Communications (TRC) consulting practice and its approach to global talent growth. The TRC group is led by Pat Milligan, Senior Partner and President, and it accounts for $600m of Mercer’s $3.8bn 2011 revenues.

The forum was also about Mercer’s approach to its own growth. Mercer has increased its feet on the ground in emerging markets and is adding to its portfolio of services. Having completed seven acquisitions in the last sixteen months, including ORC Worldwide and CENSEO, expect to see more strategic acquisitions in the near future as Mercer leverages its cash on hand to build scale. Mercer’s TRC practice already has a great start with 55% of revenues from outside of the U.S. and 18% growth in 2011, 11% organic.

Mercer is focusing on more than consulting as a standalone service.  It is combining consulting with enabling technology and data to continue to win in its very competitive market space. Along with discussions on talent management, there were demonstrations of technologies and tool kits to gather, monitor, and manage information that helps clients make better people decisions, such as Mercer iknow and Human Capital Connect. 

Most clients cannot afford to immediately “rip and replace” their current tools and technologies, so Mercer will also help clients who say, “make what I have work.”  Its new Belong portal will be the front door to bringing together the information, tools, and applications – whether it’s Mercer’s own or a client’s blend of programs. Offering HR portals is not new, but Mercer is building in data extractors to offer the most needed information, dashboards, and limited functionality within the portal without having to go out to the full application.

There are other critical components to consider. This is where HRO comes in as part of the build and operations team to ensure cost-effective and viable end-to-end HR services for the participants, HR generalists and COEs, managers, senior leadership, and the enterprise itself.

Whether as a single source of consulting, solutions, and services or by using an ecosystem of preferred partners, is your HRO service provider(s) capable of helping you go from strategy to design, build, operate, and improve your HR capabilities and services to deliver full business value?

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

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A Deeper Look – HRO and Health Care Exchanges

May 3, 2012

HRO is an ever changing set of services, processes, technologies, and client needs. My HRO colleague Amy Gurchensky recently covered one of the emerging service areas in benefits: health care exchanges. I wanted to know more about active employee exchanges and arranged for educational briefings with Aon Hewitt and Mercer since both are already in this market.

Both of the HRO service providers have found similar reactions from insurers to the exchanges. As with any new concept, some carriers are more progressive and recognize changing market needs. Other carriers are more cautious and methodical and want to know more about how the new models work, how to underwrite the risk, client implications, etc.

Even though health care exchanges offer preconfigured selections with price advantages for employers, exchanges are still group programs and the employer is still the plan sponsor for active pre-65 participants. Aon Hewitt’s corporate exchange offering includes services to help clients meet their obligations as plan sponsors.

Exchanges are a bundled service. Along with structured plans from participating carriers, traditional benefits administration services are also included. Both Mercer and Aon Hewitt have great depth in providing end-to-end participant services, handling escalations, and advocacy. For example, Mercer’s exchange offering includes clinical case management support as well as program oversight and audits. Aon Hewitt includes both tier one and tier two call center support and advocacy services for participants with issues or claims that are more complex and require a greater level of case management and carrier interaction.

Both companies are major league benefits administrators, and I wondered how the exchanges may impact revenues as clients move to an exchange-style service. Mercer sees the revenue impact as neutral initially and additive overall; Aon Hewitt views the exchange markets as an important natural extension of its traditional benefit administration services.

Today, health care exchanges are a very small part of benefits HRO, but there is significant growth potential. Mercer will be testing service models in rolling its Mercer Benefits Choice Exchange (MBCE) for employers with less than 1,000 employees, so expect to see the changes and evolutions that are common with emerging services. It will not be surprising if more HRO vendors launch exchanges, and even a couple large carriers may decide to offer exchange services directly as the market develops.

The future of health care private exchanges is not dependent on whether or not the current U.S. health care reform is amended or survives. Research indicates that up to 90% of employers offering health care coverage intend to continue to offer coverage in 2014.  Employers will continue to need options that help them offer competitive benefits at controllable costs, and innovative HRO service providers will continue to develop new services and options to meet those changing market needs.

Linda Merritt, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

Flexible Benefits and HRO Add Choice for Employees and Options for Employers

May 2, 2012

Mercer’s What’s Working Survey found that one-third of European participants are seriously considering leaving their organization. This had me immediately questioning why. Does it have something to do with the employee’s benefits package? Probably not in the U.K. since 36% of respondents stated that their benefits package was the primary reason for staying at their organization.

In fact, 30% of survey participants in the U.K. said that their employer’s benefit package was the key reason for joining the company in the first place, up 5% since 2005. Across Europe including France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, and Italy, the average percent of employees that are content with their benefits package is 50%, representing a general decline over the last five years.

The survey shows what employees value varies by country, culture, and age. While surveyed European employees have many common interests, there is variation by country. Employees in France and Italy were the most dissatisfied over many of the employee value proposition elements studied including base pay, benefits, and development opportunities. In most cases, score varied. For example, employees in the Netherlands were less likely to intend to leave and were satisfied with their benefits, but were dissatisfied with employer assistance in retirement plans and base pay.

With pressure on all aspects of workforce costs, including benefits, what is an employer to do?  One option is to add a flexible benefits program to increase employee desired choice while still controlling costs. Program designs include one or both of the following:

  • Employer paid benefit “credits” that employees can use to select the choices most important to them
  • Employee paid benefits available through the employer, payable with payroll deductions and usually at better prices than available in the general market.

While flexible benefits schemes have been slow to take off, the continued adoption rate will have a positive effect on flexible benefits service providers since internal HR departments tend to lack the skills necessary to administer these benefit choices successfully. According to Mercer’s European Survey on Employee Choice in Benefits, flexible benefits programs generally meet employer objectives (63%) and are well-received by employees (71%).

Using HRO to administer the programs reduces administrative cost and complexity for employers.  The number of European organizations outsourcing their flexible benefit plan has increased. Specifically, Mercer’s survey found the following:

  • 36% of employers outsourced their entire flexible benefits program, up from 28% in 2009
  • 33% use a combination of in-sourcing and outsourcing for their flex program, up from 23%
  • 16% manage the flex offering in-house, down from 35%.

NelsonHall’s upcoming Targeting Benefits Administration market analysis report will indicate that growth opportunities for flexible benefits are very good as organizations look for an alternative to salary increases and bonuses while meeting the needs of increasingly diverse workforces.

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.