Myth-busting global benefits technology05.08.21
Global Benefits Director
It’s typical that any request for additional budget will naturally incur some scrutiny but, when it comes to taking benefits global, it often seems like an uphill battle. Even if you know it’s needed, it’s likely you’ll need to justify the case for a global employee benefits platform.
In my role at Benefex, customers often find themselves in this position, so we’ve compiled some of the more frequent comments we hear in conversations with stakeholders – and some suggestions to combat these concerns…
Myth: We have low headcounts in some locations so it wouldn’t be worth it
We would be surprised if this wasn’t the case – it’s rare to find a global organisation with employees evenly spread across locations. However, whether you have 20 employees or 2,000, each one is as important as the next and deserves the same great experience. Regardless of moral obligations, you also still need to provide the legal requirements, manage the admin and answer any queries. And that often raises the objection that, the lower the headcount, the more queries and troubleshooting needed – but why is this? It’s most often because there aren’t the right systems in place.
At Benefex, we have a method called the simple to complex model – a spectrum that allows organisations to scale up or down their benefits structure, based on their requirements and employee populations. Where you have lower numbers, you can implement an information-only portal that keeps things cost-effective and easy compared to a complex site, but still achieves the objectives of communicating to employees about their benefits. As your headcount increases you can continually review and built to make it more comprehensive.
Myth: Going global is too complicated and time-consuming
At first glance, yes, but you may be surprised by how much of the global set-up work has already been done once the first location has gone live.
By this point, you and your team will be familiar with the benefits technology, the implementation journey, and the information required for design. Plus, all the previous branding and communications work can be used again, saving you valuable time and resource on future launches.
One thing to bear in mind is that the first implementation country for the majority of our customers tends to be the UK or USA where benefits are on the complex end of the scale and more time-consuming that most other locations, meaning your next implementation will seem a lot simpler!
A global rollout looks daunting, but with the right team and technology it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than a local implementation. All of our customers take a phased approach to implementation, often over several years (for multiple countries) which helps manage internal resources. From early in the project, we work with customers to build a roll-out schedule that isn’t onerous and works for them, starting on the locations causing the most challenges or administrative headaches. This allows for quick early wins that alleviate workloads and allow for more time to focus on further implementations.
Myth: We don’t need global benefits as our locations don’t have flexible benefits
This is a common challenge from internal stakeholders. Generally, when we hear ‘flexible benefits’ we tend to think of wider variety of optional leisure, lifestyle, and financial benefits. While this may be the case for countries such as the UK, USA and Singapore, globally the range tends to more limited. For a majority of international locations, ‘flexible benefits’ refers to some choice in benefit options and the ability for the employee to upgrade their coverage on benefits such as life cover and medical benefits.
In India for example, the benefits offering itself is relatively simple, but the medical plan is one of the most complicated in the world. Employees can use their salary to choose from seven or eight add-ons, various deductibles and add family members. This one benefit can create a major administrative burden, as well as generating confusion for the employees who may be using outdated, paper-based selection processes.
Even if your global populations don’t have access to shopping discounts or gym memberships, that doesn’t mean they don’t have flexible benefits decisions to make. The right technology reduces laborious and time-consuming administration and gives employees a better benefits user journey.
Following a recent local platform launch in Latin America, one Benefex customer saw a 35% increase in how their employees viewed the company and its benefits because technology and communications combined to show employees what options were available to them, and how to use them.
Myth: Our payroll/HR software already sorts our global benefits
That may be the case, but how well does it do it? Payroll and HR software has not been designed to manage benefits, offer choice, educate employees and report to providers. While you may have an existing system in place that does the job, if it does not do the whole job, or do it well, you will find yourself with issues. Not to mention, does your payroll or HR software offer a helpdesk to answer specific benefits queries? The answer is probably no…
A centralised platform that offers employees all the choice they need, along with communications and education to make those decisions – all with your company branding and no administrative hassle.
Myth: Implementing a global benefits platform is too expensive
Some of the most successful benefits schemes I’ve seen launch internationally have been those on tight budgets that needed to demonstrate upfront the proven impact of a benefits platform and the expected return on investment (ROI) Technology providers should recognise that budget is one of the main obstacles organisations face internally, so a good provider will be willing to help calculate some bespoke figures for you based on your headcounts, workloads and resources.
As a ballpark figure, over the past few months, for Europe we have seen potential ROI between four to five times the year one costs including implementation. In the US, this can increase towards 10 times where there is a sizeable headcount.
Using our simple-to-complex method, Benefex consultants will partner with you to find a solution which works for your people and your budget. Ultimately, global benefits technology doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective.
Final myth: It’s a nice to have, not a need to have
Without doubt, great benefits tech is nice to have, and there are many advantages, but in the ever-evolving world of work, it is no longer just a ‘nice to have’. Intuitive and scalable global benefits technology is a must have for any organisation looking to take their business international. From an improved employee journey and increased benefits awareness to enhanced internal branding and communications, plus potential ROI savings, there’s a whole host of business case factors to underpin your global benefits strategy.
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Paul joined Benefex from Mercer in 2019 with a wealth of international benefits experience, having worked with a large number of high-profile, multinational clients to review their approach to global talent and reward. He leads Benefex’s global benefits delivery team and he’s doing an excellent job of it, if we may say so ourselves. He is skilled in international risk assessment and management, legislative compliance, trend research, cross-border claims, and customer relationship management. AND, he can speak fluent French, mais oui!