BMS’ legacy benefits offering was extremely low-tech and paper-based, and each country operated its own scheme locally. In line with their published commitment to ‘innovation, speed and accountability’ the benefits team set their sights on a quantum leap to an approach that was efficient, automated, and would enhance employee engagement.
In April 2015 BMS partnered with Thomsons with a goal of getting 40 countries live by the end of 2017. BMS had already appointed Mercer as their new global brokers, and since Mercer’s acquisition of Thomsons in December 2016, the partnership and service provided by both firms to BMS has gone from strength to strength.
Together BMS and Thomsons overcame every challenge in their way, from language barriers, to varying cultural expectations, to local resource constraints. They leveraged knowledge, created economies of scale and developed a truly best of breed solution, which they entitled “mybenefits”, implemented on Darwin – Thomsons’ cloud-based benefits management and employee engagement platform.
The entire rewards implementation is now delivered in 14 languages through one portal, automating 311 benefits and 34 pension plans, streamlining 170 processes, and moving 20 reimbursement plans out of the previous Concur system into Darwin.
Each strategic market launched in ‘waves’. Emails formed the primary communication, providing a locally relevant, consistent onboarding experience for everyone.
When they logged into the portal, employees found a radically improved offering. A customised, BMS-branded portal now offers a highly personalised and localised experience any time, from anywhere, covering not just benefits, but reimbursements accounts too, including digital upload of receipts.
From disparate functions across the world this new approach brought together a new, unified team of over 150 cross-functional contributors. The team members have found their working lives transformed for the better, with dramatically reduced levels of administration, paperwork eradicated, clear audit trails, and automated data feeds removing the risk of data entry errors.
The HR function also now has a single-source of data. With instant access to unprecedented insights, including complete visibility of costs and take-up at a country and global level, employer benefits spend and insurance rates, informed decisions can now be made to improve employee benefits and experience.
To be totally honest, I don’t think that when we first had the vision of a global benefits platform we realised just how unprecedented a project of this size and timescale was. Yet Thomsons, and their fantastic technology, made our journey from the archaic to the award-winning remarkably painless. I’m incredibly proud of, and grateful to, everyone involved from BMS, Thomsons and Mercer, who contributed to our hugely successful project – it has been a true partnership.
countries live within 35 months
individual benefits selections processed in 2017
of UK employees logged into Darwin
awards at the 2017 Employee Benefits Awards and the 2017 Workforce Optimas Awards
Every country within an international business brings with it different benefits, tax, language, legislation and culture. With such a complex operating environment it can be difficult to take a truly global approach to benefits, however those organizations that do are four times more likely to be effective or very effective in meeting their objectives.*
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), a global BioPharma company, knew they needed to transform digitally to achieve this and sought to create a single global benefits administration platform for its 14,000 employees across 40 countries. What they didn’t realize was that they were about to embark on one of the most ambitious and exciting implementations in the market.
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