How organisations can provide the best (bene)fit for their employees

When looking for a partner to address the employees’ needs of their organisation, OLIVER Agency turned to Howden as their insurance brokerage firm.
By: | September 18, 2023

When looking for a strong insurance provider, organisations should look beyond vendors to secure partners who can share their expertise in understanding the trends of the industry, and relay it to their clients in a responsive, communicable way. This was what OLIVER Agency prioritised when they looked for a new insurance provider, according to Carolynn Ang, Head of People, Asia Pacific, of OLIVER Agency.

Speaking to HRM Asia, Carolynn detailed the UK-based marketing firm’s working relationship with Howden, which focuses on a people-forward approach, and aligns with what OLIVER is looking for in an insurance broker.

“At OLIVER, we believe in ‘people first’. That means benefits and welfare provisions play key roles in attracting the right talent and retaining our people,” said Paul Bonnette, Chief Executive Officer for OLIVER Asia Pacific. It was thus important to give employees benefits that were relevant to their needs and their future, at great value for money, while also making sure that the employees understood the full benefits of their entitlement without having to decipher jargon.

“Howden was able to look at our organisational needs, understand what was necessary for us at the time, and customise a solution that fulfilled what we were looking for,” Carolynn said.

Carolynn, having found gaps when managing the OLIVER Asia Pacific People function across the Asia-Pacific region, when she joined in 2022, wanted an organisation that was responsive, reliable, and had a quick turnaround time to give her solutions. Having worked with Howden in her previous organisation with great results, she approached Howden’s Singapore office to get a better understanding of the work they did, and within two months, the decision to work with Howden was finalised by both Paul and herself.

Howden provided OLIVER with market research, expertise, and solutions that helped OLIVER cover their insurance needs with data analysis from the history of the company, which was almost non-existent before.

Carolynn also explained that from her gap analysis across the 10 countries in the region, some of the countries’ processes and medical insurance programmes needed to be better communicated and managed. Their policies in Singapore, for example, had different expiry dates and outpatient benefits were on a self-insured basis arrangement with a network provider, and flex benefits was managed via a flex portal. The transaction between the network provider and OLIVER was not well managed, thus causing delays in the turnaround time for employees’ reimbursement.

After a thorough review of their insurance programme for their Singapore office, Howden suggested insuring their outpatient benefits so that costs will be more contained and manageable, and in doing so, the provision of the insurance benefits are better coverage for the employees. Howden also on-boarded OLIVER to MediHub, a one-stop HR digital platform that enabled employees to take control of their own health and medical claims, and reduced the amount of work that their lean HR team must handle. Howden was able to analyse the data OLIVER had accumulated over the years, and provided a better, structured strategy that gave them an edge against their competitors. This meant not just providing employees better insurance coverage, but also benefits that are relevant to the needs of the employees and their future, at great value for money.

“Howden’s support serves as an extension to our people team by looking after our employees and helping us balance cost efficiency with quality, sustainable coverage in the long run,” said Paul.

READ MORE: Engaging employees in a changing work environment 

Carolynn shared that successful brokage firms are those that have values that align with their clients, and being the Head of People like herself are not just looking for quick quotations anymore. Asking to speak to an existing client of the broker is a good way to get feedback and understand the broker better before making any decision. HR professionals should also ask brokers about any gaps and challenges they may be facing and how they are working to improve themselves. “It shows me that you are innovating and working on improvement plans,” she mused.

Above all, an organisation should always look towards building a long and sustainable relationship with a broker, because a strong relationship with each other always leads to better understanding of the needs of the organisation.