How to Set Benefits in Different Nations

For companies operating in more than one country, setting benefits can be complex. Here are benchmarks that will help.

With a growing recognition that employees are a company’s greatest asset, it is increasingly important to consider how to keep staff in different countries happy and engaged. According to some studies, happy, comfortable employees are 12% more productive. Further studies suggest that benefits such as health insurance can reduce employee turnover by up to 25%. There is also increasing evidence that ensuring employees get enough time off and don’t work too many hours can boost productivity — as well as your workforce’s long-term health. A recent Aon survey of multinational companies found that 56% don’t have a global benefits database, despite global benefit reviews being a top priority. For companies operating in more than one country, setting benefits centrally can cut administrative costs, while simplifying reporting and reducing resentment between cross-border teams who may perceive the perks their colleagues receive to be unfair. Understanding what is normal in different countries is the best starting point to work out how to develop appropriate packages, from local working cultures — such as working hours, vacation time, salaries, levels of tax on earnings — to indirect benefits like the availability of state healthcare, statutory sick days and age of retirement. But when considering a working location, remember that simple top-level overviews like those shown below are never sufficient to make a decision — the devil is in the details, so seek out expert advice. In Depth Most in-demand employee benefits Universal health care Paid sick day entitlement Retirement and savings planning State retirement ages Leave benefits Flexible schedules Average wages Other benefits that employees love Talking Points “There is a clear trend of centralization at multinationals, yet it isn’t flowing through to the way that employee benefits are managed…. The vast majority of decisions are still being taken by local stakeholders. [Effectiveness of global planning] is generally being restricted by a lack of up-to-date information and administration activities.” – Carl Redondo, Aon Global Benefits “When considering the impact of local laws, care should be taken to note cultural differences and issues of discrimination. Employers should question whether or not a particular benefit will integrate with cultural norms.” – Personnel Today “You need to understand what impact [benefit schemes] are having on behavior… a big alarm bell should be ringing if they perceive it to be unfair” – Jonny Gifford, Chartered Institute of Personnel and DevelopmentThis article originally appeared on, Aon’s weekly guide to the most important issues affecting business, the economy and people’s lives in the world today.” Further Reading

François Choquette

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François Choquette

François Choquette leads the global benefits consulting team for Aon Hewitt. He has 25 years of experience assisting multinationals with a broad range of international human resources areas. He is one of the key architects of Aon Hewitt Global Benefit Solution (GBS).


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