Strong company cultures start with consistency. Whether an employee logs in from headquarters, a satellite office, or wherever home may be, the experience should be as similar as possible—and the same can be said for their benefits. But with so much variance in local laws, regulations, and customs, HR teams often struggle to create a consistent benefits experience, especially for remote and international employees. Here are some tips to provide equal access to benefits in your organization.
1. Evaluate gaps in coverage
Access to care and coverage varies across county, state, and country lines. For example, while the citizens of the UK can receive coverage for fertility treatments under the NHS, access depends entirely on where they live and what their local municipality budgets for. Meanwhile, just across the channel in France, same-sex couples were only granted the right to pursue IVF in 2021. While there isn’t enough time in the world for you to learn the nuances of every place your employees live (that’s what your brokers are for), assessing your current gaps can help highlight where your benefits are falling short—and where each employee population needs support.
Take a look at your healthcare claims
For starters, take a look at your healthcare claims to get an idea of where your money is being spent. Many companies are noticing a spike in costs related to conditions like late-stage cancers, long-term mental illness, and labor and delivery.
Survey your remote and international employees
Consider surveying your employees to understand their most pressing needs, whether it’s help managing a chronic condition, finding childcare, or accessing fertility and family-building support. Combined with your claims data, this should help give you a good idea of where your health plans may be leaving people behind.
Compare employee needs across populations
Through your claims and survey data, you should hopefully see some patterns emerge. It’s likely you’ll find that many of the problems facing your employees will be universal—namely, accessing care in a timely manner for themselves and their families. However, their unique needs can vary dramatically depending on where they live.
2. Adopt a digital-first approach
For global and distributed teams, administering benefits is almost as difficult as providing them. To ensure you’re giving people equal treatment and access to benefits, consider taking a digital-first approach to benefits. This means working with vendors that can provide digital platforms to coordinate and administer benefits, whether it’s for your health and wellness programs, 401k and retirement plans, or your digital family health offerings.
“Our response to everything has been to move our benefits to digital,” said Mark Blackwood, HR Manager at Writing Universe. For example, rather than allocating budget to onsite mindfulness training and online programs, companies can invest in higher-quality, self-directed virtual courses. Blackwood even adopted the same approach to HR focus areas outside of employee benefits, including learning and development—meaning company training sessions are now completely virtual. “This allowed our team to secure any benefits or courses the company offers, and they can be accessed at any time and from any place. This is just a simple way a company can make all team members feel just as valued,” Blackwood said.
3. Adapt your messaging and training to be globally inclusive
Offering inclusive benefits is only part of the equation—getting people to use them requires the right messaging and internal marketing. Even workplaces with inclusive benefits on paper can fall short of utilization expectations when employees don’t know or understand how the offerings work.
Jagoda Wieczorek, Head of HR at ResumeLab, supports employees on three continents. From her experience, it isn’t enough to simply repackage benefits training sessions or ramp up your communication cadence. Internal messaging should feel relevant and reflect your audience—including their location, culture, and demographics.
“Every one of our offices has basically the same benefits and perks, despite countries having different laws and norms. We want the benefits to be even across the board, but it’s still our goal to give great training that's relevant to each location,” Wieczorek said. In offices with working parents, HR leaders might spend additional time discussing childcare, pediatrics support, and flexibility. Remote employees may want to hear more about virtual offerings, including telemedicine, wellness app subscriptions, and employee assistance programs (EAPs).
“Bottom line: We want our offices to feel connected and equally valued, because they are. Your approach to communication should be appropriate for the needs of those employees,” she said, adding that these training sessions may be just as important as the benefits themselves.
4. Partner with vendors who can support global scale
Because needs and solutions can vary so greatly between locations, many HR teams feel as if they have no choice but to use different vendors to deliver a similar experience. But as more employers experience benefits fatigue, onboarding a new vendor can be daunting, and making the case to your finance team might seem impossible.
Instead, you should look to streamline your benefits offerings across the board by partnering with vendors who can support international populations just as well as they can support domestic ones. However, international availability is only half the battle: your partners should also be able to provide culturally relevant support for your employees as well.
Care matching, which is a process that connects people with resources, providers, and support that understands or identifies with their unique social and cultural profile, can help ensure your employees are receiving culturally humble care that’s tailored to their needs. Rolling out a benefit with this capability can ensure your employees feel seen, heard, and included, no matter where they are in the world.
Going global with Maven
Maven is the leading digital family and reproductive health benefit for organizations looking to support families in the workplace. Members have access to our robust network of telehealth providers spanning over 30 different specialties, as well as our global network of partnered clinics. To learn more about how Maven can support your global organization, check out our solutions page.
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