What is global benefits management?


May 23, 2024

Global employee benefits refer to the comprehensive set of perks, compensations, and incentives provided by multinational companies to their employees across different countries. These benefits aim to ensure employee well-being and satisfaction while complying with local labor laws and cultural expectations.

Types of global employee benefits

Global employee benefits can be categorized into three main types: 

  • Government-provided benefits: These are benefits provided by the government to all eligible citizens and residents. They vary significantly from country to country and may include healthcare, pensions, unemployment insurance, and maternity/paternity leave.
  • Statutory benefits: Statutory benefits are those that employers are legally required to provide to their employees under local labor laws. These can include minimum wage, paid leave, social security contributions, and occupational health and safety measures. Compliance with these benefits is mandatory to avoid legal penalties.
  • Voluntary employer benefits: Voluntary or supplemental benefits are additional perks and incentives that companies can choose to offer their employees beyond what is required by law. These benefits may include private health insurance, retirement plans, wellness programs, flexible working arrangements, and professional development opportunities.

Examples of global employee benefits

Benefits plans can encompass a wide range of perks and incentives designed to meet the diverse needs of a global workforce. Here are some examples of common global benefits:

  • Healthcare coverage: Comprehensive health insurance plans, including medical, dental, and vision coverage, are often provided to ensure employees and their families have access to necessary medical care. This can include both government-provided healthcare and private health insurance.
  • Retirement plans: Companies can offer various retirement benefits, such as pensions, 401(k) plans, or other retirement savings plans, to help employees plan for their future.
  • Paid time off: Providing paid leave supports work-life balance and employee well-being. This can include vacation days, sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave, and personal days. Maternity and parental leave are particularly important for supporting employees during significant life events and promoting gender equality in the workplace.
  • Workers’ compensation: Providing workers' compensation insurance makes sure that employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses receive appropriate medical care and financial compensation. It’s required in many places, but considered a supplemental benefit in some.
  • Flexible work arrangements: Options such as remote work, flexible hours, and job-sharing arrangements support work-life balance and can increase employee engagement and productivity. These arrangements are increasingly popular as they allow employees to tailor their work schedules to fit their personal lives.
  • Wellness programs: Wellness initiatives, including gym memberships, mental health support, wellness workshops, and preventive health measures, promote overall well-being. These programs can help reduce healthcare costs in the long term and improve employee morale.
  • Professional development: Offering training programs, tuition reimbursement, and career advancement opportunities helps employees develop their skills and advance their careers. This investment in employee growth fosters a culture of continuous learning and development.
  • Life insurance: Life insurance policies offer financial protection to employees' families in the event of their untimely death. This benefit is a key component of a comprehensive benefits package, providing peace of mind to employees.
  • Childcare: Access to affordable and reliable childcare services, either through on-site facilities, partnerships with local childcare providers, or childcare vouchers, helps employees manage their family responsibilities while maintaining their professional commitments.
  • Employee engagement programs: Activities and initiatives designed to enhance employee engagement, such as team-building events, recognition programs, and social gatherings, contribute to a positive company culture and improve overall job satisfaction.
  • Company culture initiatives: Creating a strong and inclusive company culture through diversity and inclusion programs, community involvement, and corporate social responsibility initiatives helps attract and retain top talent while fostering a sense of belonging among employees.
  • Stipends and vouchers: Offering stipends or vouchers for certain expenses, such as transportation, meals, or home office equipment, can enhance employee satisfaction and reduce out-of-pocket costs. These benefits are especially valuable for remote employees who may incur additional expenses while working from home.

Why offer global employee benefits?

Global benefits are essential for multinational companies aiming to ensure the well-being and satisfaction of their diverse workforce. Beyond that, there are a few main reasons employers most commonly offer them.

Reason 1: Local laws require them

Compliance with local labor laws is crucial for multinational companies. Offering mandatory benefits ensures that companies meet legal requirements, avoid penalties, and maintain a good standing in each country where they operate. On the other hand, failing to follow the law can result in fines, legal fees, reputational damage, and other legal and financial risks.

Reason 2: They help attract and retain the best employees

Offering comprehensive benefits helps attract top talent and retain valuable employees. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, it takes an average of 42 days to hire a new employee, and one year to fully onboard and train them. Replacing a highly trained employee can cost up to 213% of their salary, according to research from the Center for American Progress. But comprehensive benefits packages demonstrate that the company values its workforce, contributing to higher job satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. A 2022 MetLife study found that employees who are satisfied with their benefits are twice as likely to be satisfied with their jobs overall, and 70% more likely to be loyal to their employer.

Global employee benefits trends

Staying current with global employee benefits trends helps companies remain competitive and meet the evolving needs of their workforce. Some current trends to know about are:

Rising healthcare costs

The cost of health benefits continues to rise globally, making it essential for companies to find ways to manage these expenses while providing comprehensive healthcare coverage. Employers are increasingly offering wellness programs and preventive care initiatives as parts of their global benefits programs to help mitigate long-term healthcare costs.

Increasing paid time off

There is a growing trend toward providing more PTO to employees, including vacation days, parental leave, and personal days. This trend recognizes the importance of work-life balance and helps improve the overall employee experience, from well-being to productivity.

Emphasis on mental health

Mental health has become a significant focus in global employee benefits. Companies are expanding their mental health support through counseling services, mental health days, and wellness programs to address the growing need for mental healthcare, giving employees more peace of mind that their employers will care for them mentally and emotionally as well as physically.

What is global benefits management?

Global benefits management involves the administration and coordination of employee benefits programs across multiple countries. It ensures HR teams deliver benefits that meet your global team’s needs, comply with local regulations, and align with the company's overall strategic goals.

What is a global benefits strategy?

A global benefits strategy is a comprehensive plan that outlines how a company will manage and deliver employee benefits across different countries. It considers legal requirements, cultural differences, and employee needs to create a cohesive and competitive global employee benefits package.

Elements of a global benefits strategy

  • Legal compliance: Ensuring all benefits meet local labor laws and regulations
  • Cultural relevance: Tailoring benefits plans to meet the cultural expectations and preferences of employees in different regions
  • Cost management: Balancing the cost of benefits with the company's budget and financial goals
  • Communication: Effectively communicating the benefits available to employees and how to access them
  • Technology integration: Utilizing software and platforms to streamline benefits administration and management

How your global benefits strategy can set you apart

A well-crafted global benefits strategy can differentiate your company from its competitors by building up your reputation on the global stage, improving employee satisfaction and retention, and supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace culture as you attract global talent.

How to create a global benefits strategy

Define your goals and set your budget

Start by identifying your objectives, such as improving employee well-being, or attracting top talent from around the world. Establish a budget that aligns with your goals—and considers the costs of providing benefits in different regions.

Know the local laws

Research and understand the labor laws and statutory benefits requirements in each country where your company operates. This knowledge will be necessary for making sure you comply with local regulations by offering all mandatory benefits based on where your employees live.

Accommodate cultural differences

One of the biggest challenges of global employment is considering all the different cultural norms and expectations of international employees in different regions. You may need to tailor your benefits packages to meet different cultural preferences and needs—such as offering extended family leave in countries where family ties are highly valued.

Consider your employees’ needs and wants

Similarly, when designing benefits packages, take what your employees need and want into account. Consider conducting surveys and gathering feedback from employees to understand their priorities and preferences, and use that information to offer benefits they’re excited about. Keep in mind that fringe benefits aren’t one-size-fits-all.

Explore your options for software and outsourcing

Technology can help streamline the process of sourcing, administrating, and managing your benefits. From shopping local markets for health insurance providers to administering benefits with locally compliant paperwork, the right benefits solution—like an Employer of Record (EOR)—can save you hours of manual work and reduce your risk of costly compliance risks. Rippling EOR offers your employees access to locally aligned benefits plans that fit the requirements and culture of the country—with automatically synced payroll deductions and continuous compliance to protect your business.

Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide or be relied on for tax, accounting, or legal advice. You should consult your own tax, accounting, and legal advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: June 16, 2024

The Author

The Rippling Team

Global HR, IT, and Finance know-how directly from the Rippling team.