Five steps to make your benefits package market-leading in every location￼
Posted on Sep 22, 22 by Irina Dzhambazova
The mass cultural shift towards remote work, as well as the proliferation of affordable cross-border employment solutions such as Boundless, means that employers can now tap into a global talent pool beyond the bounds of a city or a country with very little hassle.
However, beyond the ability to employ across borders and the connectivity we now are fortunate to have, successful recruitment requires careful consideration of employee benefits. Employers are still struggling to recruit successfully because they don’t have the right in-market benefits to tempt the candidates they’re targeting. In fact, our research shows that one-third of employers have missed out on overseas hires because their employee benefits packages haven’t been up to the job.
Getting benefits right is a big deal, particularly given that the international jobs market is more competitive than ever. Nine out of ten candidates will look closely at the benefits you’re offering before deciding whether to take a job with you – and two-thirds of employees are willing to move jobs to secure a better benefits package. Those are pretty significant numbers.
So, if you’re struggling to attract overseas candidates, here are five steps to make your benefits package market-leading in every location you’re trying to hire.
Break with a one size fits all mentality
What employees want can vary wildly depending on their personal circumstances. For instance, while parents might need to make use of a childcare allowance, it’s important that child-free employees don’t feel hard done by in comparison. And while less commuting is being done in this new post-pandemic world, offering travel and transport perks may appeal to some staff more than others depending on where they live and how they get around.
Of course, it’s not possible to make everyone happy all of the time or create individual packages for every individual staff member. However, flexibility needs to play a big role in determining what you offer, particularly as you start to hire across multiple markets.
Don’t let cultural expectations (and obligations) trip you up
Local expectations around benefits also vary from location to location based on what the state already provides and what is generally provided by other employers in their territory. Hence, you’ll fall down by rolling out a benefits scheme which fails to consider cultural differences.
How to avoid this issue: well, first things first, you need to know what the local law says you have to provide. Legislation can differ significantly across borders – from annual leave allowances to maternity and paternity cover – and you need to get these mandatory provisions right, or you could face hefty financial penalties.
Once you know what you have to provide (check out our Country Guides for more), you’ll want to consider the cultural norms in the territory you’re hiring in. What do people expect, and what do other employers provide as a standard? We have put together a handy ebook with comparison benchmarks on what good and great employers offer in several countries to help you.
For example, if you’re a UK company looking to hire in the US, you’ll need to be mindful that at least 60 per cent of employers offer health benefits as standard – perhaps no surprise given the lack of free healthcare at the point of delivery. There’s also much less vacation time typically offered compared to the UK, and while the number of days varies from employer to employer, on average, US workers receive just ten days of paid holiday each year. In addition, time off is often accrued, which means that US staff will need to be working in their job for 12 months before they're entitled to ten days of holiday. All this means that offering a higher-than-norm level of vacation could help you stand out in the market.
To give another example, not every country has made Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) a requirement by law. This means that companies are allowed to make their own rules around illness, and you’ll need to be aware of what’s on offer in a territory, whether that’s by law or what’s typically provided. Some of the best countries for sick pay include Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Australia and Luxembourg – although a high level isn’t mandatory by law – so to attract staff in these territories, you’ll need to have a generous offer.
Things change (and so should you)
Our research shows that while employers think they’re doing a pretty good job in providing benefits, their employees aren’t so sure. In fact, 84% of employees are unhappy with their current package, a worrying statistic given that there are record numbers of job vacancies to tempt them elsewhere.
So, what does this tell us? Simply, that you won’t make your employees happy without taking the time to understand what they want.
Savvy companies engage in employee surveys to determine current satisfaction levels and assess what’s needed next. And crucially, they do this regularly – understanding that things change in employees’ lives. For example, with the cost of living crisis affecting so many households across so many countries, employees are increasingly demanding help with living expenses – whether that’s meal package subscriptions, subsidies towards energy bills or travel allowances to offset the effects of rising fuel costs.
Capitalise on self-managed options and foster loyalty to boot
With so many variables at play, it might be time to move to more flexible, self-managed allowances – letting your employees choose from a pre-vetted list of suppliers and benefits options.
Ideally, you want employees to be able to allocate their own budget to what matters most to them. For example, in territories where the state provides generous childcare, your employees might want to use their funds for other things, while in regions where childcare allowances are less generous, employees can put their benefits allowance towards topping this up.
This, however, needs to augment an already existing core benefits offering that has all the statutory basics everywhere you operate covered.
Using this approach allows you to properly cater for different territories – and enable a better level of personalisation (simply set your budgets and allow employees to pick what matters most to them). They also allow you to deliver more flexibility – adding options easily without having to rewrite your whole policy, upping allowances to reward employees for great work or expanding into a new territory with very little effort.
Ultimately, empowering employees is always a good idea – providing autonomy makes them more productive, engaged and loyal – and there’s no reason this shouldn’t apply to benefits too.
Keep an eye on benefits' innovation everywhere
We’ve said it before – it’s an incredibly competitive job market out there. And when you’re fishing in a global talent pool, it’s not just companies in your own territory you need to worry about – you could be competing for new hires against rivals based practically anywhere. So you need to be mindful of what other global employers offer and pay close attention to how benefits are evolving in different markets.
Take California-based Salesforce, for example. This savvy employer rewards its staff with special programmes focused on wellness and travel, and its famous Education Reimbursement Program helps students take job-related courses at an accredited school.
Although technology firms often get the most attention for providing extraordinary benefits, you can find great perks in many other industries too. For example, UK-based Timpsons recently made headlines for offering employees an extra week of paid leave when they get married.
Get help offering flexi benefits to employees everywhere
If your competitors are already working hard to deliver great benefits, you need to make it a priority, too or risk losing out on vital hires. It’s the ideal time to take another look at your offering, particularly if you’re looking to hire overseas and don’t want to fall foul of those worrying statistics that employers miss out on one-third of overseas hires because they don’t offer compelling benefits. And, when you’re ready to reap the rewards of rolling out a great benefits package across multiple territories, we’ve got you covered with our fully flexible, global benefits solution.
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Written by Irina Dzhambazova
Irina Dzhambazova is the editor of this publication and leads many of the marketing efforts behind Boundless. Previously she crafted stories at SaaStock and Dublin Globe and travelled the world capturing case studies of companies using the Kanban Method. Throughout this experience, she was almost always "the remote worker" and knows a thing or two about the potential and challenges of this way of working.
Update: Since publication, we have put all three articles on UK benefits in a downloadable ebook and have added the full stories of four companies we spoke to about how they approach their benefits program. Grab it here. As we pointed out in the first part of this guide to benefits in the UK, the […]
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