The HR World’s latest webinar addressed the challenges organisations face when it comes to looking after global employees.
Any HR professional who’s worked across global benefits will know it’s a complex topic. The overarching aim is to deliver consistency and equal opportunity across different locations while permitting local flexibility and personal choice to staff.
Hosted by Simon Kent, Head of Content at The HR World, the expert panel consisted of:
- James Carrick: our International Senior Manager here at Engage Health Group
- Carl Chapman: Head of Marketplace, Ben
- Dina Knight: Chief People Officer, DataTec and Logicalis
Need one-to-one help? The award-winning employee benefits consultants at Engage Health Group provide FREE advice and bespoke guidance to UK and international businesses. Contact us at [email protected] or call 01273 974419.
Talking Point #1
Benefits are not just about money: what do you need for a successful plan?
Yes, return on investment matters but there are other things to consider too. Carl Chapman referenced a Harvard Review study which found that 80% of employees would be happy to forgo a pay increase for better benefits.
But what does “better benefits” mean?
Dina Knight outlined her approach: “People are looking for more choice and balance. There’s a number of factors to consider. Fostering a positive work culture, ensuring there’s sufficient development opportunities, promoting work-life balance. And ensuring we have that open dialogue with our employees so that we can properly determine what benefits and what that compensation looks like for them. As well as being abreast of market trends.”
The issue becomes more complex when looking after global employees.
“Our approach is that we have global policies and global frameworks and then we apply them locally, said Dina. “There are unique healthcare plans for example in the US, or in Asia, so we don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach at all – that’s just not sustainable.
In other words, have a global approach but implement according to the cultural norms and legal requirements of each country.
“We work very closely with the local regional HR teams as they are the feet on the ground, they have the local knowledge about the market, internal employee preferences, candidate profiles, etcetera. That communication and alignment is very important.”
Talking Point #2
How do businesses create a unified experience for global staff?
Employees need to access those benefits from anywhere in the world and establish a consistent user experience with those services. The panel offered three ways to approach these challenges:
- Utilise employee benefits platforms
- Work closely with the local regional HR teams
- Implement global ‘umbrella’ policies where feasible
Partnering with an employee benefits platform simplifies and unifies employee benefits, allowing for control, understanding, and equal opportunity for choice. Many benefits platforms also have multi-language capabilities, helping to bridge differences and open lines of communication.
The main desirable factor these platforms offer? Ease of use! This means less time spent on explaining already complex policies to staff, and allowing employees to feel autonomous in their health and work-life needs.
But what about the policies themselves? Many HR teams are unaware that single global policies can be used in place of separate local schemes. This another aspect of simplifying the roll-out of health and protection policies. Our very own James Carrick delved deeper into global versus local implementation:
“For a global perspective, you have global solutions, and if you have a sparse population of members across the globe in many jurisdictions, you may wish to consider a global plan for a harmonised approach and you can ensure your members are fully covered.
“If you have one or two members in a certain location, you might not get the right medical care you want, unlike what you would get under a global policy. But conversely, if you have a high concentration of members in certain locations, you may wish to look at local plans which is where we have built our partner network.
“There are mandatory obligations across the globe, complex countries and areas such as the UAE, Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, are examples of where you have to have locally compliant solutions. This is where we see clients asking for additional support during renewal and setting up.
“Clients don’t have the time to navigate the complexities of the local legislations and that’s where they are reaching out to external resources – broker partners.”
Talking Point #3
Is monitoring usage metrics helpful?
With managing a dispersed workforce comes the task of monitoring utilisation rates of employee benefits and ensuring staff are getting the most out of the benefits available.
Carl Chapman from Ben offered an interesting take on this one:
“I’m personally not a big fan of monitoring utilisation rates. The reason I say that is there’s a lot of evolution in benefits at the moment to support people such as fertility or transgender benefits, and the utilisation of those will always be really small but it doesn’t mean it’s not important to those people.
“Utilisation as a method is useful in some circumstances, but we are all diverse, we all have different needs at different stages of our lives. We shouldn’t be expecting people to be boxed into these categories for utilising products at certain rates. Offer a handful of core benefits and then offer voluntary benefits that can cater for all these different needs. If you give people choice, you have an obligation to educate them to make good decisions.”
James agreed with Carl’s points but suggested that there’s a still a place for checking the metrics. After all, if there’s an increased uptake of mental health services, it’s important to be aware and understand why that might be.
Are you ready to address the global challenge?
Global businesses must address the many challenges of investing in an internationally dispersed workforce. But overcoming these challenges is very doable with the right professional support.
The award-winning team at Engage Health Group have a wide reach of global partnerships spanning 61 countries and territories. Our award-winning experts will give you the best advice and the most competitive quotes on the market.
Contact us at [email protected] or call 01273 974419 for FREE no-obligation advice and support.