Healthy People = Healthy Business

case study: managing the business for a healthier workforce

How one business transformed employee well-being and, in the process, fostered a thriving identity.

The challenge for our client – a local conglomerate with 22 Hong Kong business units employing over 40,000 people – was an incoherent collection of more than 100 legacy insurance plans and employee benefits that were complicated, outdated and inefficiently utilized for today’s Hong Kong market.

At Mercer, we turn challenges into opportunities. Working in close partnership with the client, we were able to help them build their vision of a world-class employee health and well-being program.  

Our client was able to achieve high relevance and usage programs, significant savings, enhanced employer branding and more fluid intra-business mobility. In short, a much healthier outcome: for the employees as well as the conglomerate. 


The Challenges:

  • Inconsistent and complex plans: The 22 business units each had different health insurance partners, premiums and policy renewal dates as well as inconsistent levels of coverage and benefits for staff. The differences created an enormous amount of administration and unnecessary business complexity.

  • Standard programs: Off-the-shelf programs were being utilized, which meant they were not designed from the user’s perspective to holistically and proactively manage employee health and well-being.

  • Opaque premium inflations: The business units with limited HR bandwidth (and therefore limited time for analytics) had little clarity on the triggers for year-on-year premium inflation.
  • Diminished employer branding opportunity: As the 22 businesses separately managed their employee benefits programs, there was no sense of connection and “belonging to something bigger” at the company level. The situation had a cascading effect on external recruitment; it was difficult to communicate who the organization was and to articulate the group-wide opportunities when seeking to attract talent.

  • Intra-business mobility hindered by lack of consistency in health plans and benefits:  Mobility across different business units was encouraged by our client, but for each individual move, the client would have to grapple with the transfer of like-for-like employee benefits. With more than 100 different plan designs across the group, it was a time-consuming and resource-hungry exercise. The situation had a detrimental effect on the speed and likelihood of intra-business mobility.

The Mercer Transformation:

  • One insurance partner: Leveraging the client’s size, we negotiated with a single insurance provider and entered our client into a pooling agreement. Aside from the time and resource savings of having a single process, we were able to achieve a cost saving of 20% for the group overall.

  • Custom holistic health and well-being program: Using claims data and other metrics, we designed a fit-for-purpose, high-utilization program. Mercer then partnered with the insurer to promote the world-class insurance and benefits program across the businesses.

  • Transparency: Premium inflation is now standardized. In addition, the insurer is required to provide regular updates to each business unit on its claims as well as identify any problematic cases as soon as they arise.
  • Identity and connection: Mercer’s team understood we weren’t just creating an employee benefits program. The primacy of health and well-being meant that we were also creating the employer identity anchor for every one of the 40,000-plus employees. With that outcome in mind, we began with a thorough benefits evaluation to understand our client’s program utilization. We then compared the evaluation data with the market benchmark. The process produced a program that provided the best benefit to the employees at the lowest cost to the client. The cohesive and transparent program also meant that each employee had an additional point of connection, and it was a “good story” to tell when recruiting externally.

  • Mapped and consolidated health plans: Our best-in-class analytics capability meant that Mercer was able to optimize plan design by analyzing historical claims patterns and benchmarking benefits against the market median. Ultimately, the 100-plus plans were simplified and consolidated into seven overarching programs. The consolidation has created more agility in employee mobility between business units, enhancing talent development and employee experience.

Employee health affects every aspect of your business. In this case, Mercer worked with a large employer, but whatever your size, we can help you grow a stronger business by helping you achieve a healthier workforce.

To help you promote overall employee well-being and reduce workplace stress, we also tailor and deliver:

  • Employee assistance programs

  • Lunch-and-learn seminars (topics include stress management, communicating emotions and mindfulness)

  • Health talks by registered psychologists and psychiatrists on subjects such as managing emotions and stress in the workplace and dealing with differences among coworkers

  • On-site counseling sessions for employees and their families on building emotional and mental resilience and handling stress in uncertain environments

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