Employee benefits worldwide: 7 common challenges & how to solve them

The makeup and location of your workforce will be unique to your business. But whatever the number and wherever they are based, you will need to comply with the regulations of each country and meet differing cultural expectations.

Every country has its quirks. And the more countries covered, the more complex the situation becomes.

Let’s take a look at some of these challenges in more detail…

Need help providing the right support to your international workforce? Get FREE expert advice from our consultants on 01273 974419 or email [email protected].



Challenge #1:

Understanding rules and regulations in multiple countries

Often employee benefits are managed by small HR teams located in a central location. If you’re a UK-headquartered business, then this is where your HR team is likely to be based.

Not only must you arrange health and protection schemes in the UK, you have to do the same in other countries too. Even the most well-resourced personnel department will find this a struggle.

A number of question arise:

  • Should I provide health insurance, life insurance or other policies in this country?
  • Are there different legal requirements?
  • Are there different employee expectations?
  • What do similar companies provide for their workers in the same location?
  • How do I attract the best people?

Recommended solution:

It’s a good idea to contact an employee benefits broker who operates in the relevant country. They can advise you on the best course of action and ensure you are legally compliant in regard to employee benefits.

Engage Health Group has a broker network covering more than 70 countries, so we are able to advise on the best way to arrange health and protection coverage for your workers.



Challenge #2:

Managing and clarifying costs

We often work with companies who struggle to gain visibility on their benefits spend around the world. It’s easy to understand why: companies often have separate policies for different countries, premiums change year-on-year and insurance claims vary.

There are also digital platforms and various wellness solutions to manage too. So, pulling it all together and getting a clear sight of costs is often difficult.

Recommended solution:

Businesses can arrange “umbrella” policies that cover multiple countries under one plan. For example, International Private Medical Insurance can provide health coverage to employees in different countries. These types of policy make it easier to track costs, and the more countries you need to cover, the more advantageous it becomes.



Challenge #3:

Affordability for smaller employee numbers

Even the largest companies find it difficult to achieve economies of scale through their global benefits but they often have larger and more dispersed budgets to make it more affordable.

However, SMEs with smaller budgets will struggle to find suitable, cost-effective options to cover their global workforce or achieve return on investment. With fewer employee numbers in each country, it is very difficult to obtain competitive benefits.

Recommended solution:

It’s worth partnering with an employee benefits consultancy who can design solutions specifically for the needs of your workforce. Many brokers focus on serving large corporates, but Engage Health Group offers bespoke offering for different-sized companies. And our advice comes at no extra cost.



Challenge #4:

Minding the gaps in legal compliance and duty of care

It’s hardly surprising that overstretched HR teams might miss something when administering global benefits. Whether you have HR departments in different countries, or one centralised team, guaranteeing compliance is difficult.

Insurance solutions vary widely in each country and in many countries there are now mandatory obligations. It’s a complex web of rules and regulations out there, but there are a couple of options to do so safely.

Recommended solution:

Many companies outsource to employee benefits consultants, like Engage, with global expertise. Alternatively, they employ EORs who, in turn, may employ expert consultants and brokers with specific, or multi-country, expertise.

It’s not just a technical legal exercise, it’s also about ensuring employees are equally well looked after in whichever country they are working from.



Challenge #5:

Deploying domestic vs international solutions

Many businesses are unaware that they have two options when investing in health and protection policies:

Option 1: Invest in separate policies for each country

Option 2: Invest in a single umbrella scheme, which covers multiple countries at the same time

For example, many companies set up Group Health Insurance schemes in separate countries. That means you have to manage multiple health insurance policies with different policy providers and separate providers to contact.

Suggested solution:

As you can imagine, the admin and costs can spiral. The simpler and often more cost-effective alternative is to invest in an International Group Health Insurance policy which covers all employees around the world under the same policy*. Many companies are unaware this option even exists!

* In some countries, local laws dictate that employees must be covered under a locally compliant policy. Engage Health Group can help with sourcing both international and local solutions.



Challenge #6:

Encountering generic solutions for unique business needs

Too often businesses are served with generic solutions which can inflate costs or minimise the chances of getting value for money. Each business has its unique make-up of employee size, country distribution, budget constraints and industry type. While the largest businesses can usually find tailored solutions, for smaller operations (less than 50 employees) it can be difficult to find suitable local policies.

Suggested solution:

Any broker or consultant you work with should serve the precise needs of your business and be a genuine whole-of-market broker.



Challenge #7:

Sourcing impartial advice

Many HR professionals have fallen victim to the persuasive sales pitch of an insurance advisor. They will always have the perfect policy for you.

But how can you be sure without comparing and contrasting against other providers? And do you know what lurks in the small print?

This point relates to Group Health Insurance, Income Protection, Life Insurance, Critical Illness Cover, and any other health and protection policy you’re seeking to invest in.

Suggested solution:

Ideally, you need to consult with an expert who has in-depth knowledge of all the different providers and how their different offerings shape up. Plus, importantly, they must be able to magnify the most important details in the Ts and Cs. And they should do this on your behalf rather than act as a sneaky sales funnel on behalf of a preferred provider!



Finding a broker that’s right for you

As you can see, the key piece of advice here is to find expertise you can trust. This will make the process of jumping through all the legislative hoops all the more easier and help you fulfil your duty of care more effectively.

At Engage Health Group, we have a wide global broker network spanning more than 70 countries, enabling us to provide the best guidance no matter where your employees are based. We offer genuine expertise alongside the most competitive quotes in the market.

Contact us at [email protected] or call 01273 974419 for FREE no-obligation advice and support. 

Picture of Eleanor Chilvers

Eleanor Chilvers

Eleanor started at Engage in 2021, and is now a Digital Content Writer after studying BA English Literature at University of Sussex for the last 3 years.

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