Muna Almuallem is the former manager of international benefits at Mary Kay, Inc. For 11 years, she has been involved in the global benefits market and has provided some insights into the challenges facing the industry and into how to be successful. She will take on a new position at Amway in April, 2012.
Almuallem said one of the most challenging aspects the industry faces is obtaining transparency from carriers in certain countries. There is also some difficulty in coordinating and managing the care of employees.
One large issue is the government changes made to the insurance industry. She said they have to learn to manage and contain costs because the government keeps cutting back, leaving the employer to pay the difference.
Because legislation is continually changing, she said it is important to keep up-to-date. Mary Kay uses multiple tools, including a benefit database that houses its local benefit offerings in detail and contains legislative updates. Mary Kay also belongs to a number of networks like One World International Benefit Forum, which is dedicated to keeping track of local changes. Mercer and Aon are also utilized.
With the additional changes in the economy, Mary Kay has created an International Benefit Guideline that clarifies roles, core benefits and steps needed to help its local countries. Almuallem said they are working on getting buy-in on three-year plan healthcare strategy that combines wellness and benefits. In addition, she said Mary Kay has partnered with its countries to identify what is currently in place in each location, what is missing and what local resources, such as brokers, should be leveraged.
Almuallem said each year the company re-evaluates the market so as to determine its competitive edge. She said they want to make sure they are providing benefits that are valued by their employees. They also have to review the prerequisites and allowances they offer by examining the demographics of the population they serve.
“While supplemental medical is the main benefit offered and has been for quite a while, we have been working with our local subsidiaries to review providing enhancements to the coverage in place while managing to keep the cost manageable and often times the same,” she said.
Tips for success
Almuallem provided the following tips for success in the industry:
- Ensure that the global benefits plan reflects your company’s strategy
- Obtain the necessary buy-in, and partner with individuals who can hold employees accountable
- Understand what benefits are currently offered, and maintain these records (and update them) in a benefit database
- Continue to partner with your local operations.
- Be proactive by being aware of renewal dates
She said the main point is that a company has to understand what it has, implement a process, send out reminders to local offices and hold employees accountable. She also said that sincerity is important. That’s why Mary Kay, in her opinion, is a leader in the field; it cares about its employees and their families.