Employers should consider not matching employee benefits on a global basis, according to Towergate Health & Protection. Having seen many employers taking this approach, the specialist adviser in health and wellbeing support advises that offering the same benefits across different countries is not always the best option.
Sarah Dennis, head of international at Towergate Health & Protection, comments:
While it is vital to ensure that all employees are fully supported in terms of health and wellbeing, this does not necessarily mean offering the same benefits to all overseas employees as those based in the home country.
Sarah Dennis, head of international at Towergate Health & Protection
Trying to match the benefits for those working in different countries on a global scale may mean that employers are either over- or under-providing. It can lead to a lack of support in some areas and overcompensation in others. Instead, employers should consider what they are trying to achieve globally and what they need to offer to accomplish this.
Finding the right balance
It is often necessary to look separately at specific areas of health and wellbeing support to ensure they are given the right weighting in each location.
Care for dependants
Where employees may expect two- to four-times salary, or even higher, for life assurance in the UK1, other countries will have different expectations. Overcompensating can cost employers unnecessary money that could be better spent elsewhere.
The global cost of giving birth differs enormously from country to country. In the UK, where the NHS covers the cost of having a baby, it is easy to become complacent and to forget the costs elsewhere. In the US, it costs nearly $19,000 (£15,200) on average to give birth2.
Evacuation and repatriation
Requirements for evacuation and repatriation cover will differ according to the countries in which employees are based. Some areas will have a greater level of risk, will be more remote, or have less access to medical care, meaning greater support is required.
The level and type of wellbeing support offered will also depend upon the industry. Sectors such as technology and financial services are highly competitive and so tend to offer higher levels of benefits, so companies in these industries must provide top-of-the-range support in order to recruit and retain the best people.
Access to specialist local knowledge
Employers must look at what is covered by the state and what benefits they need to provide, before making any decision on what to offer. Having access to this degree of detailed knowledge for each benefit and each country is specialist, so it is important to have access to it. A regionally based adviser will know what state provision is in place, what support is mandatory for employers to provide, and what benefits local employees expect.
Sarah Dennis concludes:
If an employer wants to harmonise benefits globally, a good adviser will ask why. Health and wellbeing support should be about providing the appropriate benefits, not necessarily the same benefits. The best way to treat employees fairly is to ensure that all four pillars of health and wellbeing are being supported: physical, mental, social, and financial.
Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.