October 30, 2013

United Arab Emirates, Dubai

Mercer, a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments has now launched its flexible benefits offering, customised to the Mıddle East.  myChoice by Mercer, a flexible benefits solution developed specifically for organisations in the Middle East, enables employers to effectively manage benefits costs whilst allowing employees to choose the coverage and benefits that best suit their individual needs.

With intense competition for talent and rising health care and benefits costs, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies in the Middle East to attract top talent and ensure staff loyalty within their benefits budget.  The rising cost of health care, housing, travel and education is increasing the cost of benefits packages offered by employers compared to the past. Yet, even with increasing expenditures on benefits, turnover is still high.  One of the reasons for this is the rich diversity of employees in the region, each with their own specific view on what a desirable benefits package might look like. Many benefit packages in the region have a similar look and feel, leaving employees in a position where one package can look much the same as another, making it a challenge to meet employee needs, limiting the use of benefits as an employee retention tool.

With myChoice,  organisations can differentiate their benefits offering by empowering their employees to customize their own benefits packages, appealing to a diverse workforce and engaging employees by offering them choice.

myChoice can be adapted to any size company, in any industry.  The program allows employees to select and re-assign their employer’s existing benefits budgets towards the benefit package that they want.  Employees are given the option to sell core benefits and purchase others that more appropriately suit their specific situation, shifting away the one-size-fits-all system to custom fıt.  For example, an employee without children would have very little use for an education allowance, but may instead prefer extra annual leave.  On the other hand, an employee with a new family may choose comprehensive medical coverage along with savings plan and child education benefits. With myChoice, the benefit possibilities are endless.

Equally important for employers, myChoice can save employers money.  It is an effective cost containment approach for expensive benefits like medical insurance to enable employee and employer cost sharing.

Steve Clements, Employee Health & Benefits Leader for the Middle East at Mercer stated, “More and more employers are under pressure to offer more diverse benefits to address the diverse needs of their workforce. They want to address inequities that sometimes exist in their benefit provision, deal with a variety of differing healthcare needs, and generally be more  creative for retention purposes by making innovative benefits available. However, it is increasingly difficult for employers to simply add core benefits with the costs of these benefits outpacing inflation. A Flexible Benefit programme can often address these needs by re-assigning existing benefits budgets while empowering employees to choose benefits that match their particular needs and lifestyles”.

Mercer experts point out that the increasing cost of health care combined with legislation in various countries around the region, which mandates employers to provide medical insurance to all their employees and dependents, are causing upward pressure on medical insurance premiums. As a result, they say, employers are looking for ways to control costs and share rising financial burdens with employees – something that can be achieved through a flexible benefits programme.

“With myChoice, employers can maintain core coverage, which would provide essential access to health care services and meet mandated requirements, while giving their employees the option to opt for higher coverage and share in the cost of the premiums,” said Clements. “Some employers are looking at replacing their current defined benefit approach to the provision of medical benefits with a defined contribution or medical allowance. This would provide the employee with core medical cover but because it is detached from medical insurance inflation, which is around 15 per cent per annum, the cost to the company over time is significantly reduced,” he added.


About Mercer

Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Mercer works with clients to solve their most complex benefit and human capital issues by designing, implementing and administering health, retirement and other benefit programs. Mercer’s investment services include investment consulting, implemented consulting and multi-manager investment management. Mercer’s 20,000 employees are based in more than 40 countries. In the Middle East, Mercer has offices in Dubai and Riyadh. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., which lists its stock (ticker symbol: MMC) on the New York and Chicago stock exchanges. For more information, visit