Benefits Evolution—Easing Clients into Total
Rewards Transformation through Stakeholder Buy-In
BY MAT THE W MERKER
The manner in which company benefits are viewed by both employers and employees continues to evolve, and the demands from both for exceptional delivery of service continues to increase. To answer this call,
consultants are increasingly delivering benefits consulting capability from a holistic perspective. Total
rewards, which encompasses compensation, health
benefits, retirement benefits, and employee experience, among other factors, has become the norm for
In the war for talent, benefits packages can make or
break a company’s success in its recruitment capability. However, not all companies are prepared to take
on the holistic transformation often needed to achieve
gold standard rewards offerings. As such, consultants
geared toward the development of total rewards must
also tread cautiously with clients not quite prepared to
undertake that level of transformation. Stakeholder
buy-in for successful implementation of total rewards
is key, and forced change without an evolution of client mindset can lead to failure.
Leaders in benefits consulting services recognize
the need to be holistic, yet discrete. A broad sword,
and also a scalpel. Indeed, benefits consulting client
engagements are often still discrete in their desires.
Clients may seek to just alter their retirement benefits
while leaving compensation strategies the same, or alter health benefits offerings without interest in development of wellness programs. Often, clients do not come
to consulting firms seeking a full revamp of all benefits,
as it can be a massive and daunting undertaking.
So how do consultants get their clients into the total
rewards transformation mindset? Incrementally. Sav-
vy consultants assist clients by understanding what
they want, and translating those wants into what the
client actually needs. A pitfall consultants must be
wary of is overwhelming clients that have a singular
objective by jumping right into total transformation
of a massive part of their internal operations and em-
ployee offerings. In order
to avoid this, while at the
same time slowly shifting
client mindsets about ben-
efits transformation, lead-
ers of consulting services
demonstrate process and
cost optimization in bene-
fits through small steps.
If a client seeks retirement benefits strategy alteration, consultants provide it,
while at the same time showing how, in minor transformative ways, cost savings can be realized through
increased transparency, shared services, or other small
innovations that are easily implemented.
Demonstrated value add of transformation in benefits through small change, low risk strategies whets
the appetite of clients. The appeal of potentially considerable cost savings by taking minor transformative
strategies and applying them to other benefits areas becomes more readily received through this method, and
consulting engagements achieved through this manner
often evolve into that holistic transformation opportunity, with a client fully engaged in the process and enthusiastic about the results.
Total rewards from an employee offering and operational optimization standpoint can be very appealing
on paper, but clients can still be reticent to undertake
large-scale transformation, apprehensive of the risks
and unsure of its efficacy for their specific business.
In taking the long road, demonstrating value in small
increments, consultants can lead their clients to a total
rewards transformation mindset, confident that stakeholder buy-in will ensure the effective adoption of the
transformation and the success of the strategy.
Matthew Merker is a Senior Analyst, Management Consulting
Research for ALM Intelligence and focuses on Operations
and HR Benefits research.