As your company grows and you need more staff, you may look beyond the United States to hire top talent.
In the digital era, remote working has become increasingly common, and you can easily jump on a Zoom call to interview job candidates on the other side of the world.
If they’re a great fit, you can move on to discussing working hours, salary, and benefits.
But what are global employee benefits, how are they different from regular benefits, and which should you offer?
Let’s dive in:
Global employee benefits are the non-wage perks given to an internationally distributed workforce. They include benefits like paid time off (PTO) and healthcare. When choosing which benefits to offer your international team, it’s important to consider the cultural norms and legal requirements in different countries.
If your benefits solution for local employees is one-size-fits-all, you’ll need to change your approach in order to hire the international team you need.
For example, your U.S. workforce may be accustomed to weekends lasting from Saturday to Sunday, but that’s not the case for employees in every country.
In some countries, the weekend is Friday and Saturday (e.g., Israel, Qatar).
The main difference between global employee benefits, remote benefits, and hybrid benefits is their scope.
For example, a worker in Seattle who commutes to your office twice a week will probably appreciate a healthcare plan with great coverage in Washington State.
A U.S. remote worker could be attracted by a home office or coworking space stipend and a healthcare plan with national coverage.
And while a global remote worker may value a remote working stipend, they likely won’t benefit from a U.S. healthcare plan.
Even if you have just one global employee, you should provide them with specific benefits to ensure international competitiveness, legal compliance, and employee satisfaction.
Here’s how a global benefits program can help you and your employees:
If you don’t provide similar (or better) benefits than those available to an international employee, you may have trouble wooing global candidates, even if you offer an attractive base salary.
The fact is, employers know that benefits offerings are a key consideration for workers. According to a Forbes study, 26% of employers believe employees will quit for better benefits.
If you want to compete with multinational companies in hiring top staff, you’ll need to check out industry benchmarks for global employee benefits.
By providing a generous benefits package to global employees, you can stay in the good books of local legislators.
An international HR firm can fill you in on the statutory benefits of employees in various local markets. But to edge out other employers, you’ll need to expand these global employee benefits beyond the bare minimum requirements.
Going beyond your international employees’ basic benefits needs helps them feel appreciated, reduces their risk of burnout (e.g., by offering generous PTO), and improves their mental and physical well-being.
Here are some examples of benefits that could help you attract and retain a global workforce:
In the U.S., no federal or state law mandates PTO (e.g., holiday and sick leave), but many companies choose to provide it. Regardless of whether an employee is based in Illinois or India, they need some time to rest and recuperate.
But allocating PTO to a global team can be tricky, as the laws differ from country to country.
In Ireland, for example, full-time employees are entitled to 20 days of PTO plus national holidays. This means that if you offer a remote employee in Ireland less than this, not only will they not be tempted to work for you, but your benefits plan may not be in compliance with local laws.
Before you hire an employee based outside the U.S., ensure you are up to speed with PTO laws in their country of residence.
If an international employee decides to get married, they’ll appreciate some paid leave around the time of their wedding.
While many countries have no specific laws on marital leave, some have fairly generous allowances. For example, in Spain, newlyweds receive 15 days of paid marriage leave.
As a U.S. employer, you’re likely aware of the importance of offering quality healthcare as part of an employee benefits package. The same applies to international workers.
If you hire employees through an employer of record (EOR), the EOR can inform you about local laws on benefits administration.
If there aren’t any local laws on healthcare benefits packages, you could offer a health insurance stipend as part of a comprehensive benefits package.
Here are some healthcare benefits that your global employees may value:
Consider providing discounted gym memberships to keep global employees healthy and energized. Go a step further and offer them access to yoga classes so they can unwind after a busy day.
You can also offer preventative health screening or enrollment in smoking cessation programs.
This is another form of indirect compensation that global employees appreciate. The 2022 Insurance Barometer Study found that 68% of people with a life insurance policy felt more financially secure than those without one.
Global employers who provide this perk can ease employees’ anxiety about the finances of their families.
Childcare costs are substantial, and they may make parents think twice about returning to the workforce. If you help parents out by providing childcare benefits, you may increase their productivity and availability.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is important to many employees, so it makes sense to involve your global employees in activities like volunteering, too.
According to research from the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), almost 90% of employees who participated in their company’s sustainability efforts had increased job satisfaction.
If your global employees work from home, consider providing a yearly remote work stipend for expenses like office equipment, software programs, high-speed internet, and electricity.
In essence, remote employees are saving you office rental expenses in their country of residence, so consider offsetting some of their outlay.
Do you require your global team to travel for work? If so, consider providing them with a per diem to help with expenses. This could cover hotels, flights, and meals.
After all, depending on what U.S. state you operate in, you may be obliged to provide such expenses to local workers, so it makes sense to offer the same benefits to global workers.
If you have an annual company retreat in the U.S., consider inviting global employees to join as well. Doing so will make them feel valued and connected to their coworkers. To ensure the cost isn’t prohibitive, you may want to offer to pay for any expenses incurred to get to the retreat location.
Here are five factors to keep in mind when creating your global benefits strategy:
Do a cost-benefit analysis to ensure you’re getting good value for money on any benefits you provide. For example, if healthcare is excellent and free in an employee’s home country, they may not gain much from an expensive health insurance plan.
You’ll want to ensure that neither your U.S. nor global employees feel like they’re missing out on attractive benefits that other employees get.
This can be a balancing act, so it could be worth conducting a survey to find out what benefits global and local employees care about the most.
Consider speaking with an employee benefits broker to learn what options are available in your local area. Then, take that information and apply it across your global workforce.
Make sure the benefits you offer are designed to attract and retain the best workers. If you nail your global benefits approach, you could boost employee retention, which will save you time and money on recruitment and training.
If you’re a growing startup in the U.S., administering local employee benefits can be straightforward. For example, you could entrust Pebble with getting you the best rate on healthcare benefits and sorting all your admin worries. That’s how Symbl.ai solved its admin headache.
However, global benefits administration requires a different perspective. You’ll need to do some research before finding the best benefits management approach, all while ensuring you comply with local and international tax laws.
Depending on how many global employees you have, you could use a fixed or flexible global benefits strategy.
Granted, you may not want the hassle of changing your benefits approach each time a new employee comes on board, but a benefits policy that’s too rigid might dissuade potential employees from working for you.
Choosing the right global employee benefits strategy requires careful consideration.
If you offer benefits that only some global employees can make full use of (e.g., exclusively offering healthcare that meets one country’s standards), you’ll have a harder time appealing to and retaining an international workforce.
And if you only provide the minimally required benefits, other global employers may snap up the top international talent you’ve been searching for.
Once you’ve settled on the best benefits strategy for your local and global workforce, it’s time to decide how you’ll administer those benefits.
If you need assistance with U.S. benefits administration, get in touch with Pebble. We offer nationwide coverage and deductibles and copays as low as zero dollars. Plus, we’re there for you when you need us, offering dedicated support to both you and your employees.
Most importantly, we’ll help guide you away from common mistakes in benefits administration and toward a benefits plan that’s a win for everyone.