Alan Fergusson: It’s the same everywhere, right?

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Alan Fergusson
Alan Fergusson

All over the world, there are companies expanding into new and exciting markets every day. The new breed of employer in the gig economy have business models that are instantly transportable across borders and are easy to export, if the right people are employed to do it, and the local market wants them there.

Legislation across the globe is very different. What you can and can’t do in business can boil down to a judgement in a courtroom somewhere far from global HQ- just ask Uber who eventually were granted a probationary licence to operate in London in June 2018, from a magistrates court. It also cost them around £425,000 in costs.

So, when can legislation get in the way of developing in new locations. Every country has its own rules around the state provision of some benefits and rules around some of the compulsory cover or benefits that employees need to be given. Think auto-enrolment but not in the UK.

The holy grail of developing a global benefit provision that is the same in every country is not worth chasing. The rules in France are very different to Germany, central provision is vast in Singapore but not so much in China, and then looking at the Healthcare costs in the US is a real issue.

Compliance in local countries is crucial to avoid the wrath of local regulators or indeed the very employees that you are trying to engage.

It’s great that an employer would want to give a certain level of protection to employees’ families all over the world. But if there is some in- built coverage within state provision or compulsory cover that is bought within a package of insurances, then you don’t need to cover all employees on a separate plan as well.

If the principle is, “this organisation wants all employees globally to be covered for a multiple of salary”, then the principle can run through everything you do as an employer, taking into account local conditions and plans.

It’s the same on medical. Some countries have very advanced primary and secondary medical care, but others don’t, and the principal of ensuring that employees can get quick and professional medical help or opinion can extend in lots of different ways now, taking advantage of technology that is available. Your employees can access GP over video call where ever they are in the world.

International coverage around the medical and wellbeing arena has developed vastly over the last few years. But still many organisations do not take advantage of the tools that are out there, either because they have a very disparate structure for delivery of their global benefits, or they are with a broker who delivers a piecemeal service without any real joined up thinking. It has always been the case that employers do not hear about every service available directly from providers, as sometimes they are also services provided by the broker, some are free, others are not.

Lets look at two areas of interest.

Multi National Pooling has been around for many years but is still a very small market. Multinational pooling is a method global companies use to manage the risk of their employee benefit plans throughout the world. The different employee benefit programs are combined to form an international pool. The result is normally financial savings and better control of risks.

You don’t need loads of global offices (UK + 1 other), and you don’t need hundreds or thousands of employees (20+), so why is it so many companies ignore the benefits of this. Surely saving money and

reducing risk are critical factors in any insurance programme? There are many solutions for this, and some risks or claims histories will never work within a pool but looking at this will provide an insight into a better structure, one where a return of capital through dividends is possible with a great claims record.

Secondly, internationally there are as many great initiatives around wellbeing as there are domestically.

The Reward Guide : Wellbeing in the Workplace Research 2017 stated that:

“80% of HR say the top advantage of offering wellbeing benefits is a more engaged workforce.”

“57% of HR say the biggest barrier to building a wellbeing strategy is justifying return on investment.”

So, what if there was assistance on the costs front readily available from your provider? Would you take that?- why not?

One of the major international players will cover up to 50% of the cost of any initiative, typically around areas such as:

❖ Virtual GP ❖ Healthcare Diagnostics ❖ Mental Health ❖ Mindfulness coaching ❖ Line Manager Mental Health Training ❖ Corporate Health Screening

This is looked at on a case by case basis. They are looking at initiatives that will deliver to your employees, reduce claims and ultimately help control premium. Could this help you kickstart a new initiative?

At beneficia we have many years of international benefits experience, and a network that can deliver that around the world. Have you looked at how you deliver this, what structures you have? Do you know the full story? Or maybe you are starting out on that journey.

Contact us at change@beneficia.net or 01224 766956 to discuss further.

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