Even before Dena Regan became director of global benefits for Netherlands-based location platform HERE Technologies three years ago, she’s been on the ground floor of the global benefits profession. At HERE, a global company with a presence in fifty-six countries, Regan has to juggle a host of cultural, legal, and financial considerations when negotiating benefits programs for employees in each country. Between that rigorous work and working with HERE’s newly minted Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging (IDB) team, Regan plays a vital role in securing the welfare and well-being of every employee.
When Regan began her work with her first job at a health insurance company, the global benefits position was scarcely found in the industry. She got her first taste of the need for such a position as a benefits manager for San Jose-based telecom company JDS Uniphase (now VIAVI Solutions), when she was put in charge of managing their global stock purchase plans for employees.
As JDS Uniphase evolved, and her experience grew, Regan gradually took over global benefits. “I felt like I was giving myself titles,” she says, laughing. “I just started calling myself a global benefits manager.” Eventually, she learned of other managers at other companies doing the same thing, and over the years, they came together to form a budding new industry.
It’s the kind of work that takes up a lot of her time at HERE, seeing as much of her role involves keeping up with changes in legislation and governments—especially outside the US—as well as managing the plan designs and renewals and making sure HERE’s benefits are competitive with the global market.
Obviously, juggling the benefits programs of employees in nearly sixty countries comes with its own set of challenges. But Regan is deeply comfortable with this kind of work, given her experience in the field. For her, it means relying heavily on her team of consultants and making sure she reads the alerts whenever new legislation comes through. “Keep in touch with your local teams,” Regan advises. It also helps Regan that HERE maintains a regulatory repository where they keep all of their plan documents, which she can use to keep things straight.
Working with so many cultures in dozens of different countries, however, can also prove to be a challenge, as differing corporate cultures can lead to rifts in understanding. Branches in countries where managers are less likely to vocalize criticism or disagreements can sometimes lead to problems down the road: “They tend to agree or indicate that they understand what I’m saying, but may not necessarily agree and don’t speak up,” she admits.
But learning to deal with these local differences is a fundamental part of her job: being open and patient and paying attention to how to speak to specific people in specific roles. Using video conferencing helps, she says, because she can read body language and facial expressions, getting a better read on how the other part is responding to their changes.
“The number one piece of advice I would give . . . is that one size does not fit all. I know leaders want things harmonized; they perceive it as cost savings and want the employee experience to be the same for everybody. But that’s impossible.” –Dena Regan
But in addition to her work in global benefits, Regan has also been working diligently with senior employee experience director Jen Betti on Betti’s Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging team, which began its work in 2016 and rolled out in August 2017.
“Having diversity within our company isn’t just the right thing to do, and the good thing to do to be good corporate, global citizens—we believe it’s in our ethos,” Betti explains. “We need to drive innovation, and innovation is dramatically impacted when you have diversity of thought.”
Betti’s work on the IDB team directly impacts how Regan approaches global benefits. The two of them frequently strategize on best practices for disseminating benefits programs in an equitable way. For instance, providing same-sex partnership coverage is sometimes difficult in countries where that isn’t legal yet: India was one such country, until they opened up their marriage laws, allowing Regan and her team to offer coverage for their nearly 4,500 employees in that country. Thanks to the initiatives that Betti has created, Regan has the space to pay more attention to these issues.
The IDB team is a project very near and dear to Regan’s heart, and she and Betti have enjoyed a fruitful partnership through their incorporation of inclusion, diversity, and belonging principles into more aspects of HERE’s corporate culture. “Jen and her team have done a remarkable job that I have found inspiring, and what I would want to do with how we deal with benefits as well,” Regan explains.
Given her pioneering status in the global benefits field, Regan has plenty of advice on how to find global health solutions for populations with diverse needs. “The number one piece of advice I would give [fellow global benefits professionals] is that one size does not fit all,” she states. “I know leaders want things harmonized; they perceive it as cost savings and want the employee experience to be the same for everybody. But that’s impossible.” You need to be flexible, she says, and attack problems with openness and drive. “If you come in thinking that one size fits all, you’ll be taught something else.”
Rx Savings Solutions provides HERE Technologies with a pharmacy benefit savings and engagement solution that helps employees lower out-of-pocket prescription costs and reduce the company’s pharmacy spend. Employee engagement reached 25 percent within year one, and members use the service to save a combined $160 per fill for themselves and HERE.