By Chris Wakely
Global expansion is a growing priority for businesses, but expanding to new markets creates many HR hurdles. From learning, organizing and implementing various regulations based on location, to managing benefits, rewards and payroll operations for remote employees – going global can be a complex undertaking.
Many multinational companies are finding that the solutions lie in leveraging technology. Global benefits management software can streamline benefits administration, governance and compliance across multiple regions. It can also provide a compelling platform for promoting effective employee engagement and building global identity through a harmonized, branded reward program with the same look, feel and structure internationally.
Let’s take a closer look at key attributes when selecting a solution for your business and how these platforms can address some common challenges of benefits management for a global workforce.
Does the solution easily integrate with existing systems and support shared services?
HR administrators have to deal with internal systems (HRIS and payroll), external systems (vendor portals and tax portals) and local systems (intranets and shared folders). Selecting a benefits management solution that standardizes processes and integrates easily with existing systems can eradicate or reduce paper use, centralize functions and offer a single solution for multi-location or multi-country support.
Is the solution scalable?
As businesses change, whether through organic or acquisitive growth, processes are challenged. With the speed of such changes increasing, having the ability to manage different populations with differing entitlements, rules and eligibilities — even different benefit set-ups entirely — creates risk and complexity. Hiring additional resources is expensive and can even be unfeasible in the short-term. A centralized, rules-based software solution scalable for one to 1 million users offers certainty and security during periods of rapid change and growth for a business.
Does the solution help employees better understand their benefits and rewards?
Your company may offer the world’s best benefits and rewards packages, but unless employees are knowledgeable and engaged with their packages, they may have an unclear understanding of their benefits and ultimately miss out on opportunities, increasing the risk of turnover. Demonstrating the value of an organization’s investment in its employees through benefits can dramatically increase employee engagement with and appreciation for their total reward packages.
Employees need different things from their benefits at different stages in their lives. From claiming on a policy to adding a new dependent, interaction with their benefits is ongoing throughout their careers. Automation of employee details and benefit selection feeds into both internal and provider systems. Choosing a solution with an intuitive user-interface and with intelligent notifications of required actions or changes reduces the time, effort and stress involved in clearly communicating benefits to employees.
Different employees also require different methods of communication, and, in an age where we communicate in a myriad of ways from online to offline, from at our desks to on our mobile devices, benefit communication needs to follow suit. Employers should look for a platform with an intuitive employee-facing portal that is tablet/smartphone compatible and puts employees at the center of their reward experience. An engaging platform encourages repeated employee interaction and participation while reinforcing the power of their total reward.
Global benefits software can and should offer an employee user experience that incorporates everything from email to text messages to online video guides so individuals can choose their communication method and receive automated messages based on that preference.
Can the platform incorporate and strengthen your brand?
There is a growing belief in the importance of consistent branding and identity to successful businesses. For businesses expanding globally, it is important that remote employees do not feel disengaged from the company’s core-culture. Instantly identifiable and values led, reward brands are central to organizations’ commitments to their employees.
The challenge facing many businesses is in creating a unified global approach. A global benefits administration platform can offer the ability to control the global reward message and offer a consistent experience for internationally located employees. Whether enrolling in 401k in the US, the provident fund in India or auto-enrolling into a pension program in the UK, the employee journey, branding and messaging remains consistent. Local language and currency support offered through global benefits management platforms means that consistency doesn’t have to come with additional work for the HR and benefits team.
Does the management solution provide useful data reports?
Employee data is one of any employer’s most valuable assets. Understanding trends and metrics are key to being able to adapt to changing business needs. With centralized benefits administration and instant automated reporting, companies have the insight they need to understand trends from cost of employment, to insurance rates, to international migration costs and make informed and effective decisions. Instant access to benefits data also gives employers the independence, authority and data they need to challenge brokers and providers.
The value of implementing a technology-based global reward administration solution is significant. Streamlining administration processes enables employees to spend their time on value-adding tasks, rather than routine tasks that can easily be automated with the right software, and controlling risk protects an employer’s resources, its data and its reputation. Improving employee engagement and building a stronger employer brand can have huge positive knock-on effects, such as speeding up recruitment, improving employee retention and reducing the amount of time and money spent hiring and training new staff.
Finding the right solution can help businesses stay on course for global success.