How to Create a Global Benefits Strategy? 6 Challenges to Look For

October 19, 2023
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You have employees across the globe—India, the US, China, Germany, etc. It took you months to build a strong global team, but things are getting worse. Some employees feel their compensation is not equal to that of other employees. They feel undervalued and unmotivated. 

This is one of the common challenges of globalisation

This post will delve into how you can adopt a global benefits strategy to build and sustain global teams. 

What is the Global Benefits Strategy? 

Global benefits strategy is creating a benefits strategy that balances employer and employee needs. 

In this approach, you focus on the 3Cs to create a global benefits strategy:

  1. Compliance: meeting legal requirements 
  2. Competitiveness: meeting industry standards
  3. Cost-effectiveness: meeting the budget constraints

For instance, as per Indian labour laws, it is mandatory to provide provident fund contributions. Whereas in Germany, competitive benefits include generous paid vacation days. 

Hence, balancing these country-specific legal requirements with cost-effectiveness enables a well-rounded global benefits strategy.

How to Create a Global Benefits Strategy

You can adopt a global or localised approach to create a global benefits strategy. 

  • A global approach is creating a standard policy for employees across the globe.
  • The localised approach involves creating a country-specific plan.

Both options have their pros and cons. 

Here is a 5-step process to balance these two approaches and create a competitive global benefits strategy.  

  1. Align Stakeholders 

Bring key stakeholders from HR, finance and legal teams together and discuss the following:

  • Objectives

Who do you want to attract and retain?

Decide the core goal of having a global benefits strategy. In simple terms, reverse engineer your pain points. 

For instance, if a tech company wants top software engineers, its global benefits strategy will emphasise stock options and flexible work arrangements. In contrast, a manufacturing company facing safety concerns will focus on safety measures and comprehensive insurance coverage in its strategy. 

  • Value proposition

What is unique about your organisation?

Assessing the ‘value proposition’ means understanding what incentives and offerings make your company an attractive and competitive employer. For instance, Tesla's value proposition for employees includes stock options and a strong emphasis on innovation. 

To identify your value proposition, assess employee needs, benchmark against competitors and track market trends. Once you have clarity on your strengths, balance costs with benefits and ensure legal compliance. This shapes your benefits strategy and helps you meet the 3Cs. 

  • Budget

How much budget do we have?

Start by outlining the mandatory and supplement benefits. This helps in cost-cutting unnecessary benefits while keeping competitive advantage intact. 

For instance, benefits like health care coverage are important to meet legal requirements, but benefits like on-site childcare services vary on employee demographics and local regulations.

Understanding what you and key stakeholders want reduces friction later and sets forth an attractive benefits strategy. 

  1. Conduct Market Research 

For inclusive research, cover the following sources for market research.

  • Competitors

Examine the benefits strategy of your industry competitors. This sets benchmarks and helps you create a differentiator.

For instance, if your competitor provides remote work options and professional development opportunities, include these in your global benefits strategy. You could create a differentiator by enabling flexible work arrangements tailored to local preferences. 

So, in regions such as North America, where remote work is highly valued, emphasise flexibility. Similarly, in countries that focus on professional growth, like Southeast Asia, invest in skill development programs to stay competitive.  

  • Cultural and regional differences

Research the cultural and regional nuances that impact employee preferences. 

For instance, in Japan, there's a strong emphasis on seniority-based promotions. So, include generous retirement plans to tailor your benefits to reflect this cultural trait. 

In contrast, a region like Scandinavia, where people prefer work-life balance, provide flexible schedules and parental leave.

  • Legal framework

Understand the legal requirements of each location where your business operates. 

For instance, France has strict laws regarding employee benefits, including a 35-hour workweek and generous paid leave. 

Use this knowledge to shape the mandatory aspects of your benefits strategy to avoid potential fines or legal disputes.

  1. Develop Policies and Guidelines 

The Global benefits strategy plan becomes a document that serves as a living framework for evolving needs and business goals. Start by outlining the benefits based on your research. 

For instance,

  • Business goal: cost control
  • Industry-standard practices: flexible work
  • Legal compliance: healthcare coverage

Then combine remote work options, legal health insurance and flexible healthcare spending accounts. This ensures competitiveness, cost control and compliance. 

Try balancing the global and local aspects of the strategy. A one-size-fits-all approach creates differences due to diverse cultural, legal and economic conditions. 

For instance, individualism prevails in the United States. Hence, benefits like flexible work arrangements and stock options are highly attractive. However, benefits such as family support services work better in countries like India.  

This approach enhances competitiveness and fosters employee satisfaction and retention.

  1. Implement the Strategy 

The following steps help you execute the global benefits strategy effectively:

  • Begin by getting approval and support from senior management. After all, their commitment and endorsement take the strategy forward and ensure apt resource allocation.
  • Communicate the vision and objectives of the strategy with local teams. Consider their feedback and tailor benefits to address their specific needs and preferences. 
  • Outline the benefits, eligibility criteria and the process for accessing the benefits. This maintains transparency and prevents feelings of unfairness. It acts as a reference point for both employees and management.
  • Choose the vendors by conducting a thorough evaluation, including their cost-effectiveness and track record. They must support the global and local aspects of the strategy. 
  • Educate employees about the strategy and how it aligns with the company's goals. Effective communication prevents misunderstandings and ensures employees make the most of the benefits.
  1. Review and Fine-Tune the Strategy 

To review and fine-tune your global benefits strategy, follow the following steps: 

  1. Market research for competitiveness

Review the market to identify global hiring trends and industry benchmarks. This ensures that your benefits strategy remains attractive and aligned with industry standards. 

For instance, a leading competitor offers innovative benefits like mental health support. Then, consider incorporating similar benefits to stay competitive.

  1. Consult with the workforce.

Engage with your employees to understand what matters to them and what they want. Employee surveys, feedback sessions and discussions can provide valuable insights. 

Source

For example, you discover that employees value a stronger emphasis on work-life balance. As a result, you improve policies related to flexible work hours or remote work options.

  1. Track metrics

Reviewing the right metrics highlights valuable benefits for employees. Refer to metrics such as 

  1. Participation rates in wellness program
  2. Use of healthcare benefits
  3. Employee satisfaction scores 

For instance if you observe high engagement in a new mental health support program, it indicates that this benefit is well-received and valuable to your employees.

By conducting a review, you keep your benefits strategy dynamic and aligned with the evolving needs of your workforce. This ensures that it continues to attract and retain top talent while maintaining competitiveness in the market.

Advantages of Global Benefits Strategy  

Companies believe that a uniform benefits policy equates to employee equality. However, with globally dispersed teams, you must consider employees' diverse needs and expectations across different regions. 

Source

Ultimately, implementing a global benefits strategy ensures a consistent approach across various geographical locations. This simplifies benefits administration and enables better cost control. 

It also promotes transparency. The employees understand their benefits and how they align with the company's mission. This transparency fosters trust and reduces misunderstandings.

Hence, having a specified benefits strategy drives higher employee engagement by highlighting the company's commitment to its workforce. This strengthens the employer brand. So, when employees experience value in their benefits, they become brand ambassadors. 

Overall, a global benefits strategy serves as a blueprint for HR teams. It provides a clear roadmap for designing, implementing and managing benefits packages across various regions.

Remember, a global benefits strategy is not just about cost control. It's about creating an inclusive, adaptable, employee-focused framework that benefits the organisation and its global workforce.

Challenges in Creating a Global Benefits Strategy

The global benefits strategy must be sustainable, scalable and reflect your company's values. However, here are 6 common challenges companies face when using this approach: 

  1. Complexity: Designing a benefits strategy requires balancing benefits, geographies and finance. For instance, deciding whether to provide extensive healthcare coverage in countries with high healthcare costs impacts the budget.
  2. Low predictability on costs: The cost of benefits can vary from region to region. This makes it difficult to forecast and manage costs accurately. 
  3. Sustainability: As a company grows, it must adjust its benefits to remain attractive to employees. This means the strategy needs to evolve with each growth cycle while adhering to budget constraints and maintaining the company's core values.
  4. Reflecting company culture: It is challenging to reflect the company culture consistently in regions with varied compliance rules. For instance, a company is known for its progressive policies, such as offering extensive parental leave. It will face difficulties implementing these in regions with conservative legal frameworks that lack supportive labour laws. 
  5. Fairness to all employees: What is considered a generous benefit in one country can be standard in another. Hence, you must ensure that no group of employees feels unfairly treated or disadvantaged.
  6. Misalignment of employee expectations: In regions where certain benefits are customary, employees may expect them as part of their package. Failing to meet these expectations leads to dissatisfaction and turnover.

So, for an effective global benefits strategy, businesses have three core options:

  1. Setting up an office in another country- Having a legal entity and dedicated team ensures active communication and feedback. This keeps the global benefits strategy agile and compliant.
  2. Hiring remote contractors- Hiring remote contractors means you do not need to worry about benefits. As a result, you focus solely on operations and revenue, not employee benefits strategy. 
  3. Partnering with an employer of record (EOR)- EOR is your partner that helps you hire from the desired country without having to loop into legal and HR administration. You can start hiring from day one without worrying about compliance or competitiveness. 

Partner with Rapid to Offer the Best Employee Benefits Package

Have your global benefits strategy ready but unsure where to start? 

If you have India as a part of your global workforce, we help you implement it without hassle. 

Rapid is an EOR that helps tech founders expand in India without legal complexities. If a global benefits strategy is your priority, we help you create a custom benefits strategy on our platform. 

You can easily compare and choose the right plan from the dashboard. With a few clicks, you can add, remove and modify the benefits to implement the benefits strategy successfully for your business.

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