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Free with HRM Issue 12.9

Annual guide to

Compensation & Benefits

Featuring: Employee health & wellness Benefits with bite

OVERWHELMED? HR professionals have a to-do list that goes something like this: Find the brightest candidates Reduce turnover Improve employee engagement Control escalating insurance costs Reduce absenteeism (and presenteeism) Make employee benefits more competitive And quickly. Without spending much.

Fortunately, Mercer Marsh Benefits has done a lot of the hard work so you don’t have to. With extensive regional research, and affordable products such as SimpliFlex™ and SimpliHealth™, we can lighten your load. Find out more at

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This document does not constitute or form part of any off er or solicitation or invitation to sell by either Marsh or Mercer to provide any regulated services or products in any country in which either Marsh or Mercer has not been authorized or licensed to provide such regulated services or products. You accept this document on the understanding that it does not form the basis of any contract. The availability, nature and provider of any services or products, as described herein, and applicable terms and conditions may therefore vary in certain countries as a result of applicable legal and regulatory restrictions and requirements. Please consult your Marsh or Mercer consultants regarding any restrictions that may be applicable to the ability of Marsh or Mercer to provide regulated services or products to you in your country.


Compensation and Benefits AUSTRALIA


Bosses Down Under are forgoing bonuses amid turbulent times. Qantas Airways chief Alan Joyce is one of them. He will forgo any short-term or long-term incentive payments that would have been awarded for the 2012 financial year and turn down any salary increase. His pay fell to A$2.3 million (US$3 million) for the financial year ending on June 30 this year, compared to the A$5 million he took home the previous year. “It’s absolutely appropriate that when company returns go down, executive pay should go down as well,” he told the Australian Financial Review (AFR). “It has been an extremely tough year for Qantas shareholders and what we want to show is that my pay has to have a huge correlation with the profitability of the company.” The heads of global mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, Marius Kloppers and Tom Albanese respectively, have also turned down bonuses. Banking giants ANZ and Commonwealth Bank have also frozen top executives’ salaries. The Australian Shareholders Association, a body representing many small investors, wants CEOs to go further and take actual pay cuts. The association’s chief executive, Vas Kolessnikoff, said: “In the current reporting season, where the companies haven’t achieved their targets and the executives really haven’t really achieved their results for shareholders, then they must certainly hand back their bonuses.”

The accrual of up to six months of potential bonuses is not stopping candidates from entering the jobs market in search of roles that can deliver career development and progression, says recruitment consultancy Hays. The Hays Quarterly Report, for the July to September quarter, points to an active candidate market in Singapore. “Usually the potential impact of walking away from over six months of accrued bonus has a huge bearing on a candidate’s decision to change jobs in the second half of the year,” says Chris Mead, Regional Director of Hays in Southeast Asia. “But this year candidates are more accepting of the reality that bonuses are not what they once were. They are also increasingly motivated to look for a role offering career progression or broader job responsibilities. As a result, the candidate market remains active, although candidates will typically wait for a role that ticks all their boxes, particularly in relation to career development and progression.

Bosses forgo bonuses

Bonus potential no longer retains

Tajikistan’s monthly minimum wage will rise


from 80 somoni to 200 somoni (US$42), beginning 1 January 2013 The government of Malaysia has dished out a half-month bonus with a minimum payment of

RM500 (US$162) WORLD

Pay raises generally outpace inflation Planned 2013 pay raises vary sharply by country around the world, but generally tend to stay ahead of inflation, says Mercer.

for civil servants and a special payment of RM500 for pensioners. Australian employers are losing

$34 billion

every year to high absenteeism and poor employee health Source: Medibank Health Solutions & PwC study: Workplace wellness in Australia – Aligning action with aims: Optimising the benefits of workplace wellness Source: 2012 Mercer Global Compensation Planning Report


Paid sick leave is worth it Paying for sick leave saves employers money as workers with this benefit are less likely to be injured on the job, allowing them to remain more productive. According to a study by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, employees with access to paid sick leave were found to have a 28% lowered risk of workplace injury than people without it. The risk of workplace injury varies by job type. For health care workers, not having paid sick leave resulted in an 18% higher risk of workplace injury. Construction workers – who have some of the highest injury rates – had a 21% higher risk of injury when they didn’t have paid sick time. Also, if sick or stressed workers are not able to take time off from work, they may be a greater risk for workplacerelated injuries, the study advised. However, employers report that paid sick-leave policies increases payroll expenses by 1.5%. It is estimated that more than 40 million American workers currently do not enjoy paid sick leave. ISSUE 12.9




Compensation and Benefits SINGAPORE


Most recent graduates (64%) expect a monthly salary of at least $3,000 for their first job, according to an annual survey conducted by JobsCentral, job portal. In 2011, the same survey reported only 55% of respondents demanding more than $3,000 per month for their first job. The higher expectation is even more apparent among the top students who were surveyed. Three out of four of them (73.9%) indicated that they’re expecting a monthly salary of more than $3,000 from their first employer. According to data collected from the JobsCentral Employers of Choice Survey since 2009, the proportion of students who expect a monthly salary of more than $3,000 has been increasing by approximately 10% yearly, and the proportion of top students who have this expectation is approximately 10% higher than the overall cohort. Computing and IT majors have the highest salary expectations among those who were surveyed. Close to 78% of this group of respondents expected to earn more than $3,000 per month. Arts undergraduates and fresh graduates, on the other hand, had the lowest expectation, with only 46.8% expecting to earn more than $3,000 per month. “The low unemployment rate and inflationary environment in Singapore has brought about higher wage expectations across the country. So it is not surprising that the fresh graduate market has followed this trend. At the end of the day, it’s a demand-and-supply equation with employers competing for a limited pool of local entry-level graduates,” says Lim Der Shing, CEO of JobsCentral Group.

More new employees in China are facing extended probation periods of six months or more with low pay. In a recent survey by, an HR service provider in China, 28% of respondents said their most recent probation periods were illegally extended. More than half of those were employed by private businesses, it said. Among university graduates, nearly 44% were found to have had their probations prolonged illegally. Some graduates signed a one-year contract but were asked to serve probation of six months or even longer, it said. According to China Daily, the country’s Labour Contract Law stipulates that a contract with a term of three months to one year should not ask for probation longer than a month; a one-to-three-year contract should not require a probation longer than two months; and a contract with a term longer than three years should not ask for a probation period of longer than six months. The law also stipulates that workers’ wages during probation cannot be less than the lowest wage earned by those in the same positions in the company, or that the wage cannot be less than 80% of the worker’s post-probation wage in the contract. However, the survey showed that about 29% of workers were underpaid during probation, and 2.3% did not get paid at all. Feng Lijuan, chief consultant at, told China Daily that illegally prolonged probation and underpayment usually take place in small and mediumsized private businesses. “As many companies are seeing decreasing orders, they turn to prolonging their new staff’s probation or lowering their wages during probation to reduce costs,” says Feng. “Lack of knowledge of laws and regulations has also made job seekers vulnerable to labour rights infringements.”

Recent grads expect higher pay


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Employees face prolonged probation period with low pay

Asia Pacific medical costs rising by more than


Source: 2012 Towers Watson Global Medical Trends Survey

Annual salary for Gen Y workers in the US aged 26-28


Source: Payscale

If a Google employee dies, his or her spouse will receive


of the employee’s annual salary every year for a decade Source: Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President – People Operations, Google

Profits of Apple in one year would pay the wages of the

300,000 employees

of Foxconn, a Chinese supplier for Apple, for 110 years Source: Li Qiang, executive director of China Labour Watch


Female grads earn less than male ones Australian women take home less salary than men. According to a study conducted by the Australian Centre for Educational Research, women with tertiary qualification earned about 72% of what men with similar qualifications earned – a huge gap when compared to some of the advanced western nations like Germany, New Zealand and the UK. According to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency report: “The gender pay gap is caused by a variety of factors including the undervaluation of women’s work, women’s access to training, and inflexible work practices which limit

their employment prospects. “However, a recent report by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling found that the main contributing factor to the wage gap was simply ‘being a woman’, and this accounted for 60% of the difference between women and men’s earnings.”


Swiss Life

A leading global risk and pension provider

About Swiss Life

• Founded in 1857 and headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland • Active in France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Singapore • Life insurance, risk and pensions solutions for private and corporate clients, serving over 400 multinational companies • With a global network of 61 leading local life insurers and partners, the Swiss Life Network provides risk and pension solutions in over 80 countries and territories

For more information, please contact Swiss Life (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. Tel: +65 6580 6680 Email: Web:

Swiss Life Select for expat and mobile employees Swiss Life Select is a modular solution catering to Singapore multinational companies with expatriates and mobile employees that may be on short or long term overseas assignments. Customisable modules • Death • Disability • Critical illness • International health & assistance Simple and reliable solution • One-stop shop • Simplified scheme setup and enrolment • Flexible underwriting and generous free cover limits ISSUE 12.9




Healthway Medical

Specialist Medical Services Division Healthway Medical provides comprehensive and accessible specialist medical care to its patients, covering several medical and surgical specialties in many locations and private hospitals in Singapore. Island Orthopaedics Consultants is one of the largest and most established orthopaedic groups in the region. Sited within Gleneagles, Mt Elizabeth, Mt Alvernia Hospitals, Novena Medical Centre and TripleOne Somerset, the orthopaedic, sports medicine and physiotherapy team provides surgical and non-surgical treatment for all orthopaedic conditions and sports injuries, with emphasis on minimally invasive solutions. Whenever possible, minimally invasive surgery will result in minimal down-time and reduce post-operative discomfort. Common surgeries performed by our orthopaedic surgeons include: • Total knee and hip replacements • Knee arthroscopic surgery including ACL reconstruction, meniscus and ligament repairs • Shoulder surgery • Foot and ankle surgery • Spine surgery, including discectomy, spinal decompression and laminectomy • Trauma reconstruction The Nobel group of specialists provides a breadth of specialty disciplines, including ophthalmology (eye) and LASIK surgery, ENT and head and neck cancer surgery, general, vascular and colorectal surgery, cardiology, respiratory and ICU medicine, psychiatry and psychological wellness medicine. Using a team-based approach, Nobel specialists work closely with our primary care physicians and other specialists to provide seamless, high quality care for our local, international and expatriate patients. Our team of surgeons are able to provide surgery in the following areas: • Eye surgeries, including cataract surgery, LASIK and laser surgery • Ear/nose/throat surgeries, including tonsil removal and FESS • Head and neck cancer and thyroid surgery • General surgery on the colon and intestines, including colon cancer surgery, minimally invasive piles surgery and endoscopy procedures Our Specialist Group practices are committed to bringing quality and integrated specialist care to patients from all walks of life. 4

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Dr Marcus Tan and Dr Thong Jiunn Yew

Nobel Psychological Wellness Clinic The only private psychiatric clinic in the heartlands, Nobel Psychological Wellness is poised to provide affordable mental healthcare services to the community. Run by Dr Marcus Tan and Dr Thong Jiunn Yew, the clinic has weekday evening times skewed towards working individuals and students. One may also tap on Medisave to enjoy its wellness benefits.

For enquiries, log on to or call 6459 2630 (Ang Mo Kio branch) or 6397 2993 (Novena Medical Centre branch)


Corporate Health


wellness Staying fit and healthy is essential if employees are going to stay productive. HRM discovers that organisations are turning to specialist healthcare providers and insurers for the best healthcare options in a bid to keep workforces fighting fit By Priya de Langen

Organisations know it is essential for their employees to be healthy. A Gallup report put in a high estimate for the cost of lost productivity from unhealthy US employees – US$153 billion annually. The report also highlighted that full-time workers in the US who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health conditions miss an estimated 450 million additional days of work each year when compared to healthy workers. Companies across the globe are stepping up their efforts to ensure that they help their employees keep fit and healthy – from monthly health programmes and talks and nutritional food in the pantry to providing health screenings. In Singapore, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) offers various programmes to assist employers, including the Workplace Health


ISSUE 12.9


Promotion Training programme as well as fun runs around the central business district area. HPB is also currently looking into the issue of good mental health for adults (see side box). Healthcare providers and insurance companies also play a great part in offering organisations options to give the right kind of health coverage for employees.

Essential health screening Companies are turning to healthcare groups to give all-rounded care for their employees, including providing health screening options. Healthway Medical Group has a large network of private medical centres and clinics offering primary healthcare, dental and specialist services. The group also provides regular health screenings for organisations.


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Corporate Health 10.8% National level of obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher) in Singapore Source: National Heath Survey (NHS) 2010

Dr Tregon Singh Randhawa, General Practitioner, Healthway Medical Group, says that health screening is of value to everyone, both young and old, as it is a tool that identifies diseases early while also helping to avoid others. “Most of our corporate clients hold their health screenings annually,” he adds. Healthcare groups are also seeing an increase in the number of organisations that send their employees to health screening or raising awareness about the importance of regular checks. These screenings include comprehensive blood and urine tests, x-rays, and mammography. Providers will typically cater a package that looks to the exact needs of their corporate clients. “We do see an increase in organisations encouraging their employees to go for annual health screenings. More organisations today, provide their employees with annual health screening packages as part of employee’s benefits. Lunch talks on topics such as cervical cancer awareness are also an increasing trend,” Tregon says. Employees are also becoming more informed about their health and are able to give more details about their

medical histories, say employers and experts. “Our patients are now more attuned to the value of health screening and are aware of the various nationwide screening programmes that have been rolled out over the years. This, together with their ability to articulate what they are most concerned about means, more than ever, we can tailor our screening programmes to best suit them,” Tregon explains.

Insuring the smart way Health insurance also plays a big role in helping cover employees in the case of accidents, or other health issues that insurers can cover.

Keeping mentally fit The importance of good mental health is becoming an important discussion across many countries, and Singapore too has decided to make it a priority. According to an online Mental Wellbeing Survey by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), the mental wellbeing scores of working Singaporeans are lower than the general population by around 13%. Data from another HPB survey also indicates that one in six working adults in Singapore experiences a relatively high level of stress, compared to just one in 10 non-working adults. At the same time, 40% of the 1,200 small to medium-sized enterprises HPB surveyed expressed an intention to invest in the mental well-being of their employees – even though three quarters of them recognise the benefits of supporting and improving staff’s mental health. To improve the mental well-being of Singapore’s workforce and help employers do more to promote mental health at the workplace, HPB is launching a new initiative, called the ‘Workplace Mental Health Solution’. This aims to create a convenient one-stop centre that offers both employees and employers accessible and affordable tools, resources and guidance to boost mental health at the workplace. Providing solutions at three levels the Workplace Mental Health Solution includes: • ‘Healthy Mind Hub’ at the employee level An online employee self-assessment tool to measure levels of mental wellbeing, resilience, stress, depression and anxiety, it also offers post-assessment self-help resources. Ensuring that


ISSUE 12.9


such information is confidential gives employees the peace of mind to share honestly. In addition, the confidential aggregate data collected can guide the focus of a company’s workplace mental health programmes. ‘Workplace Mental Health Investment Guide’ and ‘Working Minds Health Curriculum’ at the management level Developed by HPB, these are resources to guide managers, as well as industry vendors, on how to put together workplace mental health programmes that are effective, affordable and accessible. The ‘Workplace Health Grant’ at the organisational level Serving as an interventional enabler, the Workplace Health Grant is now $15,000, with $5,000 exclusively for the promotion of mental health. Employers can use the additional sum to plan or expand mental wellbeing programmes, such as counselling services, talks and workshops. The Workplace Mental Health Solution is one of the key initiatives of HPB’s newly-established Centre of Excellence for Healthy Mind, which seeks to research, develop and specialise in mental wellbeing and preventive mental health, as well as translate science and research into innovative, functional and relevant solutions.


“Having health insurance is important as it provides financial protection and coverage for hospitalisation and surgery costs. It also enables an individual access to the best healthcare without fear of the financial strain for them or their family,” says Kelly Leong, Assistant Vice President, Strategic Alliance and e-Initiatives Department of Great Eastern Life Assurance. There are many factors for organisations to take into consideration when negotiating insurance coverage, such as what would give the possible benefits for staff, within acceptable costs. Health insurers are able to cater to most organisational needs, giving a range of options that include insuring against personal accidents, coverage for hospitalisation and surgery, and even maternity benefits. “Given the rising medical costs and ageing population, employers always want to provide some basic health insurance coverage like the (Great Eastern) ‘Group Hospital’ and ‘Surgical Plan’ for their employees,” says Leong. However, these policies cease once the employee retires or reaches the maximum coverage age. As such, companies are exploring options such as portable medical benefits, a scheme that provides continued health coverage for employees who are in-between-jobs or have retired. “In an evolving economic environment with lean and ageing manpower resources, more companies are exploring having a portable medical benefit plan to complement their ‘Group Hospital’ and ‘Surgical Plan’ so as to provide some form of continuity of medical coverage when the employees retire or leave the employment,” says Leong. Of course, organisations might not want to provide the additional medical coverage for a leaving employee. To encourage employers to give this portable coverage, the Singapore Government has agreed to extend higher tax deductions for medical expenses to employers who have such arrangements. Great Eastern also offers an integrated solution for employers who want to implement a portable medical scheme but are concerned that some employees would not be covered due to pre-existing medical conditions. The insurer offers a ‘Basic Group Hospital’ and ‘Surgical Insurance’ plan for employees who are not accepted under its ‘Supreme Shield’ plan. Great Eastern has also recently launched an integrated health and wellness promotion tool, called “The Live Great Programme”. This aims to help the insurer’s customers live better, healthier and longer lives. It consists of five core components: wellness tools, health tips, mobile apps, workshops, and events.

“We do see an increase in organisations encouraging their employees to go for annual health screenings” – DR TREGON SINGH RANDHAWA, GENERAL PRACTITIONER, HEALTHWAY MEDICAL GROUP

ISSUE 12.9




Mercer Marsh BenefitsTM

It’s time to get personal! Personalization is the key to getting maximum value from your benefits spend, advises Mercer Marsh Benefits. When it comes to benefits, one size does not fit all. In fact, the latest Asia Pacific research shows that the more flexible and tailored your offering, the more it will be valued and appreciated by your employees. Already standard in the US and Europe, personalised health and benefit programmes are finally starting to take off in our region. As a result, many employers are discovering that their employees will happily contribute to the cost of their benefits if it means they can access – or keep – the particular benefits that work best for them and/or their families. ‘Personalisation’ looks different in different organisations, but it’s always about giving employees some degree of choice and control over their benefits. Historically, tailoring health and benefits programs to individual needs and preferences was prohibitively complex and costly for many employers. Not any more: Mercer Marsh Benefits has developed affordable solutions to take the hassle out of personalisation.

The simplest way to personalise benefits is via a flexible benefits plan, which enables an employer to offer genuine choice without necessarily increasing their overall expenditure on benefits. SimpliFlex™ is an affordable off-the-shelf solution which lets your employees choose from a selection of well-priced benefits targeting different levels, grades, ages and employee needs. SimpliFlex™ can be implemented in a matter of weeks and enables organisations of any size to provide benefits that employees will value.

Employee willingness to compromise and contribute Employees willing to…


Hong Kong




Reduce the value of some benefits to increase the value of others






Use their own money to pay for improved new benefits that are important to them






Source: Mercer‘s Global 2011 Inside Employees’ Minds Survey© of 5,000 employees in Asia Pacific


ISSUE 12.9


Company-wide wellness programmes have also proven to be effective in managing rising health costs. Wellness programmes, which reduce organisational risk and improve productivity, are far more effective in lowering lifestyle-related health risks and promoting the early detection and treatment of diseases when personalised for individual employees. Mercer Marsh Benefits’ SimpliHealth™ is a fun and engaging workplace wellness programme that supports employees through a phased approach to lasting lifestyle changes. The personalisation trend represents the biggest shift in employee benefits in decades. Now that it’s no longer the preserve of large and well-resourced employers, it will be fascinating to see where it takes us.

Article by Yoke Fun Chow, Mercer Marsh Benefits, Flexible Benefits Consulting Leader, Asia Pacific (Tel: +65 6398 2519; and Christine Owen, Mercer Marsh Benefits Health Consulting Management Leader, Asia Pacific (Tel: +65 6398 2758; To learn more, visit us at


Great Eastern Life

Great Eastern Life Great Eastern is the oldest and most established life insurance group in Singapore and Malaysia. With $57 billion in assets and around 4.0 million policyholders, it has two successful distribution channels – the tied agency force and bancassurance. The Company also operates in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brunei. Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited has been assigned the financial strength and counterparty credit ratings of ‘AA-’ by Standard & Poor’s, one of the highest among Asian life insurance companies. It was voted Life Insurer of the Year at the Asia Insurance Industry Awards 2011 by Asia Insurance Review. Great Eastern’s asset management subsidiary, Lion Global Investors Limited, is one of the largest private sector asset management companies in Southeast Asia. Great Eastern is a subsidiary of OCBC Bank, the second largest financial services group in Southeast Asia by assets. It is one of the world’s most highly-rated banks, with an Aa1 rating from Moody’s. It is also ranked by Bloomberg Markets as the world’s strongest bank in 2011 and 2012. OCBC Bank’s key markets are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Greater China. It has a network of over 500 branches and representative offices in 15 countries and territories, including some 400 branches and offices in Indonesia operated by its subsidiary, Bank OCBC NISP. The company is a firm believer that its people are its greatest asset and recognises that its staff and agency force make the ultimate difference in the success of its business. It has a wide suite of programmes to help them realise their fullest potential as they strive to consistently deliver the highest standards of service to customers.

The Great Eastern Life Assurance Co Ltd (Reg. No. 19080011G) 1 Pickering Street, #13-01 Great Eastern Singapore 048659. Tel: 6248 2599 / 6248 2879 / 6248 2181 Fax: 6534 5820 Eamil:


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Recognition that resonates What is effective reward and recognition? Effective reward and recognition has progressed far beyond the afterthought of a pat on the back, expressing gratitude to employees is now commonly understood to be paramount to an engaged workforce. Explored to its full potential, effective reward and recognition is an important strategic move that can be actioned in order to strengthen brands and achieve the ultimate goals of businesses. A fully engaged workforce is a precious, valuable tool; the key to creating one is to keep employees engaged, motivated and rewarded.

What does Power2Motivate do? Power2Motivate partners with businesses to deliver solutions and services that not only improve employee performance, but also drive sales and increase customer loyalty. This is achieved through offering the absolute best in employee reward and recognition, sales incentives and customer loyalty programmes to build brands and drive profits.

How does Power2Motivate achieve this?

Power2Motivate Tel: +65 3158 1355 Email: Web:


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Through their Power2Motivate partnership, businesses can create, deploy and manage multiple recognition, incentive and training programmes on any scale, delivered to a single department, the whole organisation or around the world to other corporate locations. The system is cloud-based which removes the need for any software and is also points- based to facilitate the conversion of currency to rewards.


Available in 14 languages, Power2Motivate truly has global buying power and is the only company in the world to offer merchandise in over 125 countries.

What is special about the rewards? The rewards and services offered by Power2Motivate are second to none, with an extensive gallery that appeals to all cultures and ages, businesses can recognise and reward with what is meaningful, when it matters most. The choice on offer is vast, completely flexible and rapidly fulfilled through the use of revolutionary technology.

How can Power2Motivate help you? Employees can often feel distanced from company values and customers may not always align themselves with the values of a brand. Today’s workers and buyers respond to tailored and unique approaches to recognising loyalty and engagement, so recognition now needs to be instantly fulfilled and appeal to individual desires. Power2Motivate can bring employees and customers into synchronisation with group ideologies through developing, managing and guiding company culture with effective reward and recognition and customer loyalty programmes. Then, as the programme progresses, the alignment of values are reinforced through the rewarding of further desired behaviours which reflect company goals. Subsequently, employees become more engaged with their work, customers engage with the brand, employee retention rates rise and performance management becomes a breeze to undertake.

Together we open the hearts and minds of your employees Power2Motivate速 is the most comprehensive program for recognising and rewarding employee achievements. Our proven online solutions incorporate innovative features including; real time reporting, measurable ROI and a unique social media platform, designed to build a culture of recognition and inspiration.

Contact us for a FREE consultation today! | +65 3158 1355


Compensation and Benefits


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bite Benefits with

A comprehensive compensation and benefits package is essential for attracting the right talent into your organisation. HRM finds some employers are going a step further by offering flexible benefits and corporate pension plans By Sumathi V Selvaretnam Lower turnover, increased loyalty and better employee engagement are just some of the benefits of a wellstructured employee benefits plan. Increasingly, organisations are seeing that there is no one-size- fits- all approach to administering benefits, and many of are giving employees greater control over the choice of rewards. Benefits that were previously pretty vanilla and short-term in their outlook have emerged into more lifestyle issues, says Donna Canestra, Principal, Employee Health and Benefits Marketing, Asia-Pacific, Mercer. “As employees journey through their life cycles, their changing needs mean that they value benefits differently at different life stages.�

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Compensation and Benefits While organisations aim to provide the best options for their staff, cost management is still a key issue. Identifying and investing in effective employee benefits is the first step to this difficult challenge, says Erik Hon, Director, Pensions, Trust and Investments Services, iFAST Financial. “Through employee surveys that identify trends and highlight what employees truly value, employers can focus their limited resources and devise effective employee benefits programmes.”


Firmenich: An early adopter of private pension plans Swiss perfume and flavour company Firmenich was one of the earliest adopters of private pension plans in Singapore. As a foreign company, Firmenich has international staff working alongside local talent. While some expatriates have foreign pension plans, those who joined the company through international or regional hiring became voluntary members of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme. From 2003 however, foreigners were no longer allowed to voluntarily contribute to the CPF scheme. This pushed Firmenich to move its foreign employees on the scheme to a Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS). The CPF reform, implemented in August 2003, saw the dwindling of retirements funds for employees on the CPF scheme in comparison to foreigners on the SRS plan. The drastic drop in the employer contribution rate and the salary ceiling on both the ordinary wages and additional wages resulted in a drop in employees’ nest eggs of between 19% and 47%. Concerned with the well-being of its employees even till their retirement, Firmenich implemented the company-funded private pension plan for employees affected by the CPF reform. The pension plan has been a definite and proven pull factor for the company’s talent acquisition and indirectly keeping its employees, says Betinna Lim, Regional Director, Firmenich. The plan also helps to harmonise the remuneration packages that include the private pension plan for foreign employees who are transferred to work in Singapore. “While in the short-term the returns may not be promising due to the poor investment market situation, we understand that this is a long-term pension plan, and we are optimistic that the funds will be substantial for all employees upon retirement,” she says. Source: iFAST Pensions

Keeping things flexible

35,000 employees globally (including 5,000 in Asia Pacific) revealed that employee loyalty and engagement around the region is declining

Each employee is unique. When it comes to compensation and benefits, an older employee closer to retirement age might prefer additional savings as opposed to a new recruit who values opportunities for continuing education or specific certifications and training. Mercer’s 2011 Inside Employees’ Minds survey of 35,000 employees globally (including 5,000 in Asia-Pacific) revealed that employee loyalty and engagement around the region is declining, and an increasing percentage of employees don’t actually value or appreciate the benefits that are being provided. “Many employees in the region would like to reduce the value of some benefits and increase the value of others to better meet their needs, and a surprisingly large percentage are actually willing to use their own money to pay for improved new benefits that are important to them,” says Canestra. In response, more organisations are adopting flexible benefits plans to cater to the varying needs of their employees. These provide employees with benefits that meet their individual life needs, while for employers, they provide the opportunity to highlight relevant benefits with targeted spending, she adds. Flexible benefits allow employees to select from a range of opportunities and rewards. Under a “cafeteria plan,” employees receive a budget from which they can “buy” benefits that suit their needs. It is also possible to exchange some benefits for others. Benefits can range from health and group life insurance, medical reimbursements for non-insured expenses, aged care, and childcare. “Employers should always design their benefit programmes to meet the needs of their employees instead of just matching with market practices or benchmarks. Designing on the basis of ‘need’, rather than a benchmark approach, allows more innovative and sophisticated employers to engage their employees in a more meaningful way,” she adds.

Supporting employees for the long-haul Retirement is becoming a big concern for employees of all ages, especially in countries with an ageing


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population. “In Singapore, CPF is inadequate to meet retirement needs, especially in the current high property prices,” says iFast Financial’s Hon. This is where a corporate pension plan (see below) can make a difference. Unlike bonuses, which employees generally do not save, a retirement savings plan can instill the discipline to save long term/ Generally, the money cannot be used for any purpose other than for retirement, Hon says. “Over a period of time, this retirement pot can build up to a significant size from the contributions and investment growth.” A new trend in retirement savings plans in Singapore is the “co-payment” type of contribution. Instead of a fully-employer sponsored plan, companies encourage employees to save by co-sharing the contribution. For example, an employer will match an employee’s contribution up to a cap, such as $100 per month, says Hon. More companies are restructuring their compensation packages to include a retirement savings plan, Hon says. “They realise that paying out big bonuses is not an effective strategy to retain employees and does not help address employee’s retirement security concerns.”

“In Singapore, CPF is inadequate to meet retirement needs, especially with the current high property prices” – ERIK HON, DIRECTOR, PENSIONS, TRUST & INVESTMENTS SERVICES, IFAST FINANCIAL

Corporate pension plans: How they work Corporate pension plans are normally set up to retain employees. They provide retirement benefits for expatriates, and rationalise retirement benefits between locals and expatriates. The plan is either regional or local and contributions can be made from employers, staff themselves, or both. For an employer-sponsored plan, the benefits are typically vested according to tenure of service and/or performance against key indicators. For employee voluntary plans, the employer usually encourages the employee to save by matching their contribution up to a certain accepted cap. The rules and conditions on plan membership eligibility, the basis of contributions, investment strategy and the schedule of benefits and payouts are incorporated in to the trust and designed to meet specific HR objectives. Source: iFAST Financial

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Royal Caribbean International

Business at Sea is

Anything but Usual

Multiple Destinations, Hassle-Free Journey Take your business out to sea with Royal Caribbean which offers cruises to multiple destinations spread across over 70 countries in Asia, Australia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Alaska and the Caribbean. Sail in comfort and style around Southeast Asia with Legend of the Seas, a ship with a warm and intimate ambience where one can find an ocean of entertainment and relaxation options! Escape to tropical destinations such as Malaysia and Thailand for a short jaunt with our cruises starting from two nights. Our 2 to 3-night cruises to Malacca and Penang are mostly over the weekends, making them convenient getaways. Or try our longer options such as the new 7-Night Borneo & Palawan Cruise that lets you explore exotic Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan.

Multiple Entertainment Options at One Venue This 2,074-guest Vision Class cruise ship is the ideal MICE destination with top-notch facilities and mouthwatering cuisine onboard. Indulge in a world-class gastronomic experience, from fine-dining in the two-tier glass-walled Romeo and Juliet Dining Room to tantalising buffets in our casual Windjammer Café. Why not bond with your teammates over a game of mini golf or cheer them on as they


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Gift Vouchers Give the gift of cruising to loved ones, employees or business partners and let them enjoy an unforgettable holiday on one of our 22 innovative ships worldwide! Vouchers are available in S$100 denominations. Terms & conditions apply.

scale the 9-metre rock-climbing wall? One can also enjoy the wide variety of entertainment and activities onboard such as captivating theatre shows every night, duty-free boutiques for shopping, ShipShape Spa & Fitness Centre, the beautiful Solarium indoor pool and disco nights in the Viking Crown Lounge with 360-degree panoramic views.

Customised Package of Fun and Business Legend of the Seas’ all-inclusive cruise package offers comprehensive conference facilities, luxurious accommodation and non-stop entertainment that will suit any group size and occasion. The ship also has a group of dedicated onboard convention services coordinators who are trained to provide round-the-clock personal assistance, ensuring your corporate events run smoothly. What’s more, you can even tailor your meeting package to suit your groups’ needs! With its unique mix of business and pleasure, great value and hassle-free planning, why not make Royal Caribbean your ultimate conference and incentive destination? For more information and reservations, please visit or contact us via TEL: +65 6305 0003 / 6305 0011 or EMAIL: /


iFAST Pensions

Attract and Retain With Retirement Plans

Asia’s leading corporate pensions specialist offers a complete pensions solution, with more cost savings, more tax savings, and more flexibility to meet the needs of today’s employees and employers

iFAST Pensions, Trust & Investments Services 10 Collyer Quay, Ocean Financial Centre, #26-01, Singapore 049315 Tel: +65 6557 2234 Web: Email:

In the HSBC report, The Future of Retirement, 73% of those surveyed were slightly or very worried about coping financially in retirement. In addition, in the Tower Watson’s 2010 “Employee Retirement Attitudes Survey”, employees are beginning to view competitive retirement and health plans as a significant differentiator when making decisions on where to work and how long to stay. Progressive companies recognise this as an opportunity to bridge the retirement income gap and attract and retain talent. With defined benefit plans out of vogue, defined contribution corporate pension plans are fast catching up in Singapore.

• Provide a 401K- equivalent plan • Rationalise benefits for locals and foreigners • Reduce staff turnover • Retain and provide more for key personnel • Tax and cost efficiencies Unlike CPF, contributions are not capped at salary of SGD5000/month and the contribution rate is typically integrated with CPF contributions, for example 15% of basic salary less CPF contributions. The plan’s rules and contribution rates are flexible enough to achieve multiple HR objectives.

Group Retirement Plan

Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS)

iFAST Pensions currently administers over SGD 130m in corporate pension assets for companies that include INSEAD and BlackRock. The benefits in such plans typically include payouts to employee on retirement, leaving service, death and early retirement due to disability. The benefits on leaving service are usually vested based on the tenure of service. Company contributions vary according to company performance and are fully tax deductible and employees can enjoy either tax free contributions or benefits. Multi-national companies and private enterprises with such a plan achieve the following: • Provide a CPF-equivalent plan for expatriates

An employee of any nationality with accrued pensions in the UK enjoys significant tax savings and investment advantages when he transfers his UK pensions to an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) compliant QROPS plan. This is relevant for those who have left the UK permanently or plan to do so. Benefits include: • Pension income paid without deduction of UK tax • Tax free investment growth • Benefits may be drawn from age 55 including 30% as a lump sum • No requirement to purchase an annuity • Access to global funds with potentially higher returns • Extensive investment flexibility • Choice of investment currencies • No UK inheritance and death tax (up to 55%) • Can be passed to beneficiaries Note: Income may be taxed depending on the employee’s tax residency

Group QROPS Similar to a group medical plan, a group QROPS plan provides economies of scale and substantial savings in trustee and investment fees. Instead of leaving the employee to his own devices, companies can offer this benefit without cost. 24

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ATTRACT. RETAIN. REWARD A retirement benefit plan that achieves all of the above.

Group Retirement Plan

UK Pensions

Tax Effective And Cost Efficient

QROPS (Malta) & SIPPs

CPF For Expatriates

Tax Free Lump Sum

401K Equivalent

Tax Savings Up To 55%

Online Administration

0% IHT

Access To Global Asset Managers

Wide Investments Options

“Given the growing importance employees place on retirement security, it comes as little surprise that they are beginning to view competitive retirement and health plans as a significant differentiator when making decisions about where to work and how long to stay. In an environment in which talented employees are difficult to lure from stable jobs, the right benefit plans could give employers the edge they need.” Towers Watson Employee Retirement Attitudes Survey 2010 on Attraction and Retention. What our clients say: “Being a privately-owned MNC, our goals in building our brands and growing in a competitive market is key for our long term sustainability. This is made possible if the Company is able to acquire and retain talents and one such means is by having a private pension plan.”

“Our corporate pension plan gives those who are a part of it a sense of belonging. We believe it is important that we view our faculty as individuals and not simply as employees and that it is important to support their longterm welfare with a corporate pension plan.”

Betinna Lim, Regional Director – Total Rewards & Mobility-Asia Pacific, Firmenich Asia Pte Ltd

Richard Rondoux, Chief Legal Officer, INSEAD

Our key clients:




To find out more about the plans and our services: Website: Tel:

(65) 6557 2234





Nexus International School Singapore

Connecting with the future

Heather Landles Admissions and Marketing Communications Manager Nexus International School Tel: +65366566 Fax: +65366866 Email: Web:


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Singapore’s growth as an educational hub has seen an influx of international students from around the globe over the past decade. Nexus International School Singapore (NISS) embraces Singapore’s diversity and quality educational standards; the NISS tag line being “embracing diversity and challenging minds”. NISS enrolled its first learners in July 2011 and now caters to over 350 students from over 50 different countries. Believing in openness in communication, NISS possesses a transparent and supportive ethos, and the environment welcomes and cares for all cultures. Committed to cultivating more than academic skills in its learners, NISS believes every child’s emotional, physical, creative and intellectual needs should be celebrated and nurtured. An exceptionally good teacher to student ratio, personalisation of learning and the integration of latest technologies into the curriculum widen and deepen the opportunities available for learners far beyond the classroom. Students learn a range of skills that will


enable them to become more self-regulating learners so that they can take greater responsibility for their learning. Its new Principal, Deputy Principal, Head of Senior School and Head of Junior School are all experienced international educators, and along with a highly qualified, well trained and experienced group of teachers from around the world, provides greater expertise and capacity in a wide range of areas, including specialist subjects, learning support, pastoral care and curriculum leadership. NISS will prioritise on five main areas this year: • To review and revitalise the curriculum • To introduce a pedagogy focused on the personalisation of learning • To carry out a digital revolution which will culminate in a 1 to 1 laptop scheme and the embedding of digital technologies in every aspect of the teaching and learning process • To widen and deepen the opportunities for learners outside the classroom

• To review and strengthen our systems and process to support learning The 44,000 square metre campus contains gymnasiums, a swimming pool, sport fields, an auditorium, and music rooms along with science and multimedia laboratories – all the facilities necessary in supporting the development and enrichment of a well-rounded individual. Learners can engage in co-curricular activities ranging from sports such as tennis, dance, and swimming, to drama, journalism, calligraphy and environmental clubs. NISS also participates actively in sports competitions organised by the Athletic Conference of Singapore International Schools. NISS is a member of the Council of International Schools (CIS), is an approved Cambridge Internal Examinations (CIE) Centre, is EduTrust certified, and is also an International Baccalaureate World School, authorised to offer the IB Primary Years and Diploma Programmes. The academic year runs from August to June but enrolments are open throughout the year, subject to availability of places.



Protecting you across continents Henner-GMC 20 Cecil Street, #05-04/05/08 Equity Plaza, Singapore 049705 Tel: +65 6849 4228 Fax: +65 6887 0328 Email: contactasia@ / Web:


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Founded in 1947 in Paris-France, Henner-GMC has been operating internationally since 1981 with a dedicated team and office in Asia since 1999. We serve over 1.2 million clients in 192 countries. The company is privately owned and is a leader in designing, implementing and managing employee benefits programmes. Henner-GMC offers health insurance (local and expatriate) and life and disability plans to individuals, corporations and to international organisations worldwide. We also provide administration and claim


management services. Henner-GMC serves both the individual expatriate and employers looking for solutions for their company as a whole. • Individuals: A range of plans covering the costs of inpatient, outpatient, maternity, dental and optical services and we offer a worldwide network of healthcare providers for direct settlement (cashless) services. • French Expatriates: International medical insurance solutions including some that combine with Caisse des Français de l’Etranger (CFE),

your French National Social Security system equivalent abroad. • Employers: A range of standard plans or we offer to tailor solutions to suit your precise requirements. Henner-GMC clients include single expatriate, expatriate families and small companies - all the way up to the largest NGO and multinationals. Our services are worldwide and with our Asiabased claims management teams we can guarantee fast, efficient local services at the same time. • Countries targeted: Worldwide.


p h u k E t at i t s b E s t

Phuket’s Most Exciting and Stylish Contemporary Resort –

dens – Staff that continues to be the epitome of kindness and

A culmination of a passion aimed to highlight the joy of life – De-

thoughtful unpretentious service that is so unique to Twinpalms

liciously comfortable it features sleek yet sensual minimalist in-

Phuket Resort – 100% pure and natural products – A world

teriors – Exquisite food orchestrated by talented, creative chefs

class spa – Original art collections – A well equipped library...

and presented in vibrant restaurants – A fashionable beach

and these are just some of the reasons to stay at the privately

club, the ultimate in intimate seaside sophistication – Enor-

owned, passionately run Twinpalms Phuket Resort in Thailand.

mous swimming pools – Lushly landscaped tropical water gar-

Twinpalms Phuket Phuket’s Most Exciting & Stylish Contemporary Resort 106/46 Moo 3, Surin Beach Road, Cherng Talay, Phuket 83110, Thailand t +66 (0) 76 316500, f +66 (0) 76 316599 e b o o k@ t w i n p a l m s - w twinpalm s-

The flexible underwriting and generous free cover limits are excellent.

Swiss Life is a leading global provider of comprehensive employee benefits solutions in over 80 countries and territories. With 50 years of experience in providing market leading employee benefits solutions, Swiss Life is proud to announce the launch of its Swiss Life Select for expatriates and mobile employees in Singapore. It provides tailored solutions with worldwide coverage that can fit the specific circumstances and needs of your organisation. Swiss Life (Singapore) Pte Ltd., Tel: +65 6580 6680, Mail:, Swiss Life Select is underwritten by Swiss Life (Singapore) Pte Ltd with Registration No. 200913694D. This advertisement is for information only.

HRM 12.9 Supplement  

Annual guide to Compensation and Benefits

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