Benefits strategy | 3 considerations when identifying which benefits work for your international workforce

3 considerations when identifying which benefits work for your international workforce

While consistency is key in many areas of your international employee benefits strategy, your benefits offering will need to be tweaked for each of your locations to properly cater for the market and potentially appeal to the best local talent.

In this article, we share how to identify which benefits to provide across your international locations, as well as key considerations that may affect what benefits you’re able to offer.

A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach may not apply

In an ideal world, you would be able to implement an identical benefits package in all your locations and have it work just as well. However, international benefits unfortunately don’t lend themselves to a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and a number of factors such as local laws, cultural norms and differing expectations can influence what will be appropriate from country to country.

To identify what benefits work for your people internationally, there are three key areas to consider per country; benefits that are required by law, benefits that might be expected by your people, and benefits that can help you stand out as an employer of choice.

1. Understand which benefits are required by law

Failure to comply with local benefits law at any time comes with a variety of punishments, making the complex task of effectively implementing and managing compliant, international benefits all the more important.

Not only can fines be significant (varying anywhere from USD 100 to USD 1,000,000 or more), but there are other severe consequences, including:

  • Strict audits and investigations from local government

  • Denial of benefits plans in future

  • Reputational damage and loss of trust

2. Understand which benefits your people might expect

Implementing a legally compliant benefits strategy is your bare minimum requirement as an employer and, unfortunately, doing the bare minimum isn’t attractive. To compete for the best talent in each market, you will likely need to offer ‘best practice’ benefits, ones that local people expect, and your competition will likely be offering.

Typically, there are five areas that people around the world will expect to be offered by their employer. In some locations, some of these are also mandatory by law:

  • Medical: access to subsidized and/or private healthcare, depending on the country.

  • Life: a lump sum to support the families of employees that pass away

  • Disability: either a lump sum or monthly allowance that supports people if an illness or accident prevents them from working.

  • Pension and retirement: helps employees save for life after work and potentially feel more secure about their financial future.

  • Leaves: work absences, long-term or short-term, that relate to a specific reason, commonly split into parental leave, vacation (holiday) and sickness leave.

3. Think about benefits and perks that can help you stand out

The best benefits can be the ones that set you apart from the competition and communicate why someone should choose a role at your company over a similar role with a competitor.

To help get you thinking about the benefits that can help you stand out, here are some of the supplemental perks, allowances, and stipends that our clients have used to enhance their employee benefits strategy:

  • Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP): a telephone hotline that provides counselling and support to employees and their families.

  • Meal vouchers: free or subsidized lunches for your people (usually at least 50%).

  • Travel: free or subsidized travel costs and public transport season tickets.

As you evaluate each benefit in each section, take into account your employee populations, demographics, compensation, lifestyle and needs, to determine where to invest. This can help you develop an overall package that could be highly valued by all your people, no matter where they are in the world.

NFP’s guide to international benefits

If you run an international business, we understand how challenging it can be to manage your employee benefits strategy in all your locations; from navigating legal and tax legislation to understanding local cultures, creating compliant and competitive benefits packages in multiple countries is no easy task.

In our latest guide, our global benefits specialists outline how you can help your business thrive internationally, implement new benefits and, importantly, ensure they remain fit for purpose.

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn:

  1. What to consider when designing your global benefits strategy

  2. How to identify the right benefits and provider(s) to deliver them in all your locations

  3. How to efficiently administer and run your global benefits program

  4. How to effectively review and maintain oversight of your strategy

Get the Guide


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NFP is a leading property and casualty broker, benefits consultant, wealth manager, and retirement plan advisor. We enable client success through specialized expertise, innovative technologies, and enduring relationships with highly rated insurers, vendors and financial institutions across the globe.

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