This article is part of a larger series on Employee Benefits.
A global employee benefits package is a comprehensive benefits plan designed to meet the diverse needs of an international workforce. This benefits package includes a range of perks, including some that may be required—even for freelancers—in certain countries. A strong benefits plan may be the key to unlocking success for your small business, attracting and retaining top talent, improving productivity, and ultimately thriving in a global marketplace.
In this guide, we’re going to dive into what global employee benefits plans generally include, why they matter for your small business, and how you can build a comprehensive benefits package to gain a competitive advantage.
If you’re looking for an employer of record (EOR) service provider that can help you identify and offer country-specific employee benefits, consider Deel. Its EOR services cover more than 90 countries, providing business owners with the HR support and online solutions they need to manage not only benefits but also international hiring, payroll, taxes, and local compliances.
What Does an International Benefits Package Include?
The primary goal of an international employee benefits package is to attract, retain, and motivate the best available talent in different countries while ensuring regulatory compliance. A well-structured international benefits package helps small businesses support their employees’ morale, health, and well-being.
Here are some of the most common benefits offered to global employees, as well as a few that would be great add-ons for your company:
Flexible work schedules and remote work options
Monthly work-from-home stipend
Paid sick leave
Did You Know?
Nearly half (47%) of global employees in an IBM research brief say their needs aren’t met by the “generic” benefits they receive.
Note that some countries require employers to offer and, in some cases, pay for certain benefits, like employee healthcare or a minimum number of paid days off. We’ll cover these legal considerations in more detail below.
Why a Small Business Might Offer International Benefits
Globalization has opened new opportunities for small businesses to expand their reach in different countries. By operating in several countries simultaneously, your small business can attract and retain the best employees, regardless of their physical location. This vastly increases the available talent pool, giving you access to more qualified employees.
In some cases, you’ll be required to offer benefits even after hiring just one employee in a country. Knowing what’s required in the countries you’re operating in will allow you to stay compliant with those local rules. EOR vendors like Deel can help you navigate through the different options available and ensure that you’re offering the right local benefits. It also has a wide benefits network, allowing you to create a competitive package to attract and retain employees.
There’s also a significant difference between offering a benefits package as a voluntary incentive rather than fulfilling legal obligations. When a state or country requires a benefit, you must offer it to qualified and eligible workers, whereas voluntary benefits are purely optional—but are typically better incentives for enticing potential hires and current employees.
Did You Know?
60% of global employers in a WTW survey indicated that the lack of customizable benefits are one reason they can’t retain their best employees.
If your business is considering global expansion, even for just one employee, you may want to consider an international benefits package. Some industries and businesses may be better suited to expansion:
- Software firms
- IT service providers
- Online retailers
- Ecommerce businesses
- Unique or exotic cuisine businesses
Legal Considerations & Requirements for Different Countries
Creating a global employee benefits package requires significant planning and coordination to ensure compliance with the legal requirements in the countries where you have employees. Some of this includes:
- Local laws governing employee benefits, such as minimum time off requirements and parental leave allowances
- Tax implications for both your business and your employees
- Differences in cultural expectations and local customs which may impact the benefits in certain countries
Different countries have different employment laws, requiring different employee benefits. Here are a few examples of employee benefits you may have to provide in certain countries, above and beyond what’s normal in the US:
Examples of Commonly Required Benefits
Some companies align their international benefits package with the most restrictive country’s requirements. Although this reduces the risk of non-compliance—and creates a great incentive when hiring—it may end up costing much more, as you’ll be providing benefits that may not be required.
For the easiest way to construct your international benefits package and ensure compliance, partner with local or global benefits providers. Besides knowing the compliance requirements in countries where you have workers, they would typically offer competitive and affordable benefits packages for your company. For help managing your international payroll, consider using an employer of record.
How to Create Your Global Benefits Package
If you choose to create your own global employee benefits package, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you. Make sure you keep in mind that your internal team will need to administer the benefits in accordance with local laws and regulations.
The first step to creating a comprehensive international benefits package is to identify the countries where your business intends to hire or already has employees. It will help you understand the local laws and regulations that affect the design and implementation of your benefits package.
Once you’ve identified the countries of operation, conduct thorough research on each country’s employment laws and regulations, including minimum wage, leave entitlements, Social Security, and tax laws. It will allow you to determine the benefits that you need to provide to your employees to ensure your benefits package is compliant.
Tip: In doing your research, check out the websites of EOR providers. Most vendors offer free access to country hiring guides that also contain a list of standard benefits. Deel, in particular, has a free-to-use benefits tool if you want to see which benefits are legally mandated, competitive, and common practice offerings in specific countries. Check out our Deel review for more information on the provider.
Your employees’ needs and preferences will vary depending on the country where your employees live and work, as well as on their local laws and cultural expectations. Identify your employee’s core benefit needs through a survey. This will give you insight into the top benefits your existing employees prefer.
Based on your research and survey findings, identify the benefits that will provide the most value to your employees and align with your business objectives. Prioritize the benefits based on their importance to your employees and those that are required under different countries’ employment laws.
Develop a comprehensive international benefits package that meets the minimum requirements for each country while also catering to the needs and wants of your employees. Ensure that the benefits package aligns with local requirements and cultural preferences. You may choose to have a different benefits package for each country where you have an employee, but be aware that will require extra administrative time internally.
Seek help from local experts in the countries where you have employees to ensure your benefits package is compliant. Local counsel and consultants may be able to advise you on the local laws, cultural expectations, and customs to be considered.
Develop a communication strategy to ensure employees know about the benefits package, its value, and how to access it. Utilize different communication methods to maximize the reach to all employees regardless of their location. Offer sufficient time for employees to understand, ask questions, and choose their preferred benefits during any open enrollment periods.
Regularly review your benefits package both with your team and with local experts. Employment laws often change annually, and you may need to update your benefits package to comply. Consider new benefits as the needs of your employees evolve.
To ensure the best experience for your employees, provide ongoing support by partnering with global benefits providers. They will help you keep your benefits compliant and keep your employees engaged by adjusting your benefits package regularly to fit your employees’ desires.
Creating a global benefits package can be a daunting task, but it’s critical to maintain your competitive edge. Remain flexible, communicate effectively, and be absolutely certain your international benefits package is compliant in the countries where you have employees.
Whether you’re a startup or a well-established company, implementing a comprehensive global benefits package demonstrates your commitment to your employees and sets your business apart from the competition.