When an employer is considering an international assignment, it is always in response to a competitive challenge. The impact on costs is therefore a priority. At the same time though, skilled workers are in high demand, so in order to ensure recruitment and retention success, international packages need to be competitive and valued.
Providers can help employers assess the pros and cons of hiring expats or locals. Expats are inevitably more costly than locals and there is always the risk that they will want to leave the host country and return home earlier than planned. However, in some territories, expats might be required in order to plug skills gaps locally.
Potential ROI in case of assignment failure or success is therefore essential. This involves taking into account all international assignment based costs, from salary, housing and school fees, to healthcare and family support.
Insights into the host countries are key. This is why providers such as Generali Employee Benefits have partnerships with insurers in over 100 countries and a team of employee benefit professionals spread out over several regional offices.
The advantages this brings to client companies are many and varied: from benchmarking data on local benefit provision, including state benefits; local insurance products and solutions; fully up to date knowledge of local compliance requirements; plus insights and best practice on cultural challenges and family needs.
It is a given that employee benefits play a big part in attracting and retaining the right people for the job. This is especially so on the international stage where, for example, access to good quality healthcare might represent the deciding factor for a potential new recruit considering moving to another country, especially with their family in tow.
The right employee benefits package can also help to reduce absence and improve engagement and productivity. All employees have different needs and the only way to ensure that benefit programmes are used and valued is to find out what employees require, whilst also of course keeping an eye on strategic business requirements too.
Benefit providers will help employers analyse business and employee need, with a view to ensure the design, implementation and administration of a fully tailored solution.
This includes ongoing support from life and healthcare providers to help employers identify potential hot spots and put in place suitable interventions to prevent little problems becoming great big ones.
International benefits plans
An important consideration with regards to mobile employees is the fact that because they are on the move, they must leave their home country plan but they might not be able to join the local plan.
Also, for various reasons, as non-resident they lose home social security and they do not qualify for host country state benefits – or the country of destination does not offer the required level of benefits.
In this scenario, international benefits plans are ideal (most of the time that is). They allow HR professionals to manage a single plan that operates across geographies rather than separate contracts across the globe. This brings with it a global overview and financial synergies which, in turn, equate to centrally coordinated management information too.
They can also be tailored to business needs and support the integration of varied benefits for different employees in the same plan, including more personalised and innovative offerings such as: business travel and travel intelligence services, benefits for spouses and families, tailored savings plans, and preventative health and wellbeing programmes.
International benefits plans might not always represent the answer though. There are a growing number of jurisdictions where local coverage is compulsory to apply for a working visa, or where membership in home social security is compulsory. In other scenarios, employees may incur a waiting period before qualifying for home social security. To minimise duplication of benefits and costs, an efficient integration between local and international plans is critical.
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