Employee Well-being Needs to Include Retirement Plans

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Xerox HR Services. For more than a century, Xerox has been a leader in document technology and services. Their human resources services include advisory, technology, and administration solutions to help companies manage and engage employees. Congrats to them for 100 years of business excellence. Enjoy the post!)

One of the things that I like about human resources is the variety. Not just from the standpoint of the many different HR functions: recruiting and onboarding, training and development, compensation, etc. but from the variety of backgrounds that transition into HR careers. Organizations have an opportunity to harness the variety of experiences for the benefit of the workforce.

For instance, I know marketing and operations professionals that have moved into HR. Another area is actuarial science. Now you might be saying – actuarial science?! Yes, it’s true. I recently had the chance to chat with Dean Aloise, global HR consulting leader for Xerox HR Services, overseeing career, health, wealth, engagement, and knowledge practices. Before becoming a human resources professional, he was the operations leader for a major actuarial firm.

I was so intrigued with Dean’s professional journey that I asked if he would share his story and insights about human resources with us. Luckily, he said yes.

Dean, I was immediately intrigued by your background, particularly your experience with an actuarial firm. How did that experience translate to working in the human resources field?

[Aloise] Actuarial science, particularly as it relates to valuing the liabilities of a pension plan, is a critical need in managing the retirement benefit programs for many organizations that sponsor a defined benefit pension plan. For some organizations, this is a key component of their benefits package, thus it’s an important part of the overall employee value proposition. So, while being a pension actuary is how I got into the HR field, as I gained exposure to other areas of HR, my interests and activities expanded into all other aspects of HR, which led to my career advancement.

You mentioned defined benefits plans. I know one of your areas of expertise is in the area of retirement planning. There are lots of articles these days on the topic of retirement – ranging from whether people are actually retiring (versus transitioning to an encore career) to the financial considerations of retirement. How do you see the retirement conversation having an impact on strategic HR?

[Aloise] This is indeed a critical area for employees these days, and HR must lead the way in helping their employees achieve the best possible outcome for themselves and for their organization. HR needs to approach this strategically, understanding that the changing dynamics of retirement (employees are working longer, living longer, and seeking various ways to phase into retirement) should be embraced. By supporting their employees in this changing dynamic, HR will be in the best position to properly succession plan, but also do right by their people in helping them to achieve a successful retirement outcome.

Thinking about and planning for retirement can have a huge impact on well-being. Should HR consider retirement planning a part of their well-being programs? And if so, what would help employees better prepare for retirement?

[Aloise] Well-being must be thought of as TOTAL well-being, which includes the health, wealth (retirement), and career development of employees, as well as community and social engagement, and even spiritual elements. Traditional wellness or well-being programs initially were primarily focused on only one aspect of well-being—physical health—and this likely explains why many employers haven’t achieved the results they seek. The well-being programs of the future will achieve greater results by focusing on all five of the elements I mentioned.

Looking more closely at my area of initial focus—wealth—up until now we have focused exclusively, or nearly exclusively on accumulating wealth to fund a traditional retirement. But today, given the dramatic economic and social changes that have impacted the workplace, HR should be expanding beyond assisting employees with retirement planning and instead help them achieve greater levels financial well-being.

This is a great time of year to have this conversation. In many organizations, it’s the start of operational planning and budgeting. HR has the opportunity to educate senior management on trends in retirement and planning. What trends are you seeing that HR needs to keep on their radar?

[Aloise] Adding a meaningful financial well-being program into employees’ benefit offerings is a key trend. HR should be looking for what vendors are offering in this area, issuing requests for proposal (RFPs) and taking different programs for a test drive. Another trend that has been with us for a while now, but that continues to gain momentum thanks to continuing advances in technology, is supporting employees—and their families—in making more informed decisions about their benefits, not just when it’s time to choose their benefits but year-round, when they actually are using those benefits to meet their physical and financial well-being needs.

I’m curious. Are the conversations and trends we see in the U.S. about retirement and well-being the same conversations that are happening globally?

[Aloise] The nuances around retirement readiness and financial well-being vary by country, as social security programs, employer and individual practices vary significantly. Some countries like France have fairly robust programs that lessen the severity of the retirement readiness issue, while other countries like the U.K. share fully in the ‘grey tsunami’ risks and concerns such that the U.S. is seeing in the very near future. The dynamics of individual, company-provided and social security retirement programs overlaps come into play in a big way when looking at retirement issues globally.

At this time, we are finalizing the results of the seventh edition of our global wellness survey, Working Well—only this year we have dubbed it the Global Survey of Workplace Well-Being Strategies, reflecting the trends I discussed earlier. Among our survey’s findings is that implementing a global well-being strategy is challenging, due to the variability in culture, laws and practices across regions. This holds true not just for retirement plans, as I mentioned above, but also for physical wellness and financial well-being programs.

What is consistent around the world are the reasons for supporting employees’ well-being: improving worker performance and productivity and attracting and retaining employees. Clearly, employers believe that the well-being of their employees is critical to the organization’s success.

Employee well-being must be thought of as TOTAL well-being, including retirement - @DeanAloiseClick To Tweet

I want to thank Dean for sharing his expertise with us. I believe organizations will have to start viewing retirement as more than just a program they offer employees. And, as an increasing number of organizations adopt a global business strategy, it will be important to understand well-being in a global context.

P.S. We hope you can join us on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 9a Eastern for a Google Hangout with Dean and Scot Marcotte, managing director of talent and HR solutions, to talk about global well-being and retirement strategies. You can also follow @XeroxHRInsights on Twitter for details. It’s sure to be a thought provoking conversation about the future of HR that you just won’t want to miss.

P.S.S. Google just released an update to Hangouts, so be sure to check it out beforehand.