Global Hiring

How (and Why) to Create a Global Benefits Strategy for Your Distributed Team

August 18, 2023

According to Metlife’s Employee Benefits Trends Study 2022, 66% of employees say a comprehensive benefits package is a ‘must-have’ when looking at prospective employers. 

At a time when competition to attract top remote talent is fierce, offering global benefits programs is a way for global employers to rise above the rest. 

However, it’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to designing an effective global benefits program. 

For instance, a US-based company cannot simply norm its offerings to the US reality. Instead, it must adapt its benefits packages to local markets, taking into account differences in specific benefits across countries, such as:

  • Government-provided benefits
  • Government-mandated benefits
  • Retirement plans
  • Paid time off
  • Parental leave
  • Company equity
  • Bonuses and commissions
  • Other perks, such as gym memberships or food vouchers
  • Cost of living

This article will walk you through everything you need to know to get started on your global employee benefits strategy — including what it is, why it matters, and six tips to help you create yours.

What Is a Global Benefits Strategy?

A global benefits strategy is a plan designed by global companies to ensure all employees receive equitable benefits, regardless of where they live. The aim of creating one is to harmonize benefit offerings while taking into account local laws, customs, and expectations in each country of operation. 

This requires staying up-to-date with ever-changing labor laws across the globe and updating policies accordingly. Therefore, a global benefits strategy is a living document that should be regularly updated. 

As with creating a global compensation strategy, the key to an effective global benefits strategy is to balance employee needs and well-being with keeping your costs to a minimum. When done well, global benefits management can boost employee engagement and retention while positioning you as an attractive employer for global talent. 

Why You Need a Global Benefits Strategy

A well-designed global benefits plan helps you attract and retain top talent, reduce administrative burden, ensure compliance with local regulations, and maximize employee productivity and satisfaction. Crucially, it can also help you attract the best people for the job. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most significant benefits of implementing a global benefits strategy.

1. It Boosts Employee Attraction and Retention

Offering a global employee benefits package is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. For instance, 79% of employees consider health insurance a ‘must-have,’ while 77% say offering paid leave is essential, according to Metlife. 

By supporting a remote lifestyle and meeting individual needs, a comprehensive and equitable global benefits package is likely to help you hire the best new employees — and keep them. 

2. It Creates Transparency

Implementing a global benefits strategy allows you to be transparent with all employees about the benefits they receive, ensure equal treatment, and reduce the resentment that can arise if employees feel they’re being treated unfairly.

3. It Gives You Greater Scalability

Once you’ve established your global benefits strategy, it will be easier to adapt it as you bring more employees on board or expand into new markets.

4. It Increases Employee Productivity

Benefits programs that support employee wellness and improve their physical and mental health are well-known for boosting employee satisfaction, motivation, and productivity. 

5. It Promotes a Better Work-Life Balance

A global benefits strategy provides equitable leave and additional benefits like healthcare, mental health days, and parental leave, which help employees achieve a better work-life balance, resulting in healthier, more committed employees.

Elements of a Global Benefits Strategy

Before you jump into designing your global benefits strategy, it’s important to get familiar with the elements to include, such as the following:

Government-Provided Benefits

These are the benefits national governments offer employees of all companies within their jurisdiction. Examples include healthcare — such as Medicaid and SNAP in the US and free healthcare through the National Health Service in the UK. Many governments also offer paid maternity leave (although the US isn’t one of them).

Your global benefits strategy should take into account all the government-provided benefits in the different countries where your business operates (or plans to operate). Then, you’ll need to think about what benefits you can offer to employees living in countries where these benefits are not provided by the government — for example, you could consider offering paid maternity leave to employees in the US. 

Government-Mandated Benefits

These are benefits employers are required to provide to their employees, either directly or through government administration. For example, in France, the government mandates employers to offer 30 working days of paid time off each year in addition to national holidays. 

When designing your global benefits plan, consider the paid leave requirements in each country where your business operates or has employees and ensure equitable leave options for all.  

Voluntary Employer Benefits

These are benefits that employers offer at their discretion. They can be supplementary, such as pension plans or life insurance, or fringe benefits, like gym memberships and meal vouchers. Fringe benefits can help attract and retain employees without directly impacting statutory benefits.

How to Create a Global Benefits Plan

Ready to begin creating your global benefits plan? Use this six-step guide as a starting point.

1. Outline Your Budget

Before you can design a strategy, you’ll need to create a budget, taking into account government-mandated benefits, supplementary options that align with your company culture, and the cost of living in each country or region, among others.

You’ll also need to factor in other additional costs, such as third-party administration, benefits management software, additional in-house staff, or global payroll. 

Additionally, if your business is budget-conscious, you might want to consider cost-saving strategies such as stipend programs. 

2. Carry Out Competitor Analysis

Analyze your competitors’ benefit offerings to set a benchmark and aim to meet or exceed these offerings — doing so will help attract and retain top talent and enhance the company’s employer brand.

3. Adapt to Regional and Cultural Differences

Having a diverse team of people from all over the world can be a great strength for your company. However, it’s important to recognize that cultural and geographical differences exist, tailor your benefits to each region, and seek input from local employees to ensure benefits are relevant and sensitive.

For instance, offering all employees US national holidays as paid time off would be culturally insensitive to those living in other countries. Therefore, it would be more inclusive to offer employees the opportunity to observe their own national holidays.

4. Ensure Legal Compliance

The benefits you offer your employees need to be compliant with local laws in every country and region where you have team members. This requires carrying out in-depth research to understand the legal requirements in each country and designing a benefits package that complies with them. Since these regulations are constantly changing, you’ll need to reassess your benefits program regularly to ensure full compliance.

5. Use Software Solutions

Use global payroll or benefits administration software to simplify the process of implementing your benefits strategy. Choose platforms that integrate with your existing HR tech or offer curated local plans for efficient administration.

6. Partner With an Employer of Record (EOR)

Designing and implementing a global benefits strategy that meets employee needs across the world while ensuring compliance with local laws and alignment with company values is a huge undertaking — one that many companies simply don’t have the capacity to carry out.

Does that mean only large corporations can offer global benefits? Not at all — with the help of an employer of record (EOR), companies of any size and budget can create and implement a comprehensive benefits strategy with the help of an EOR like Remofirst. 

For instance, our team of legal and compliance experts constantly stays on top of ever-shifting regulations worldwide, so you don’t have to. Plus the Remofirst platform makes it easy to manage and administer global benefits all in one place. 

Offer Equitable Global Employee Benefits with Remofirst

With Remofirst, offering equitable, legally-compliant global benefits to all your remote employees has never been easier. And with prices starting at $199 per employee per month, our solution is much more budget-friendly than most of our competitors.

Check out Remofirst’s features and learn more about how we can help you hire globally.