Benefits 12 min

How core benefits help your teams and your business thrive

Written by Rhiannon Payne
Rhiannon Payne

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Once, your company only had to worry about competitors in the same city — at most, in the same part of the country. Now, you need to hone your competitive edge internationally by providing employee benefits packages to a remote team, wherever they happen to work for you.

For many companies, that’s the hardest part. You’re the expert at navigating the legal and regulatory requirements, employee expectations, and cultural norms in your own part of the world. But how can you possibly stay on top of all these factors when you’re building employee benefits packages for teams in multiple other countries?

Don’t worry: Remote has you covered.

Leveraging our deep local expertise and group purchasing power, Remote is able to build benefits packages for the team members you onboard through our global employment services in dozens of countries around the world. How? Your international workforce is part of your team, logging in and working on your platforms like everyone else, but the paperwork shows Remote serving as the employer of record (EOR). This offers you a number of advantages, with our capacity to source competitive core benefits one of the most important.

According to Remote’s Global Benefits Report, 60% of employees say they have chosen one job over another for a better benefits package. Enhancing employee benefits is also a key means of keeping top talent, with 78% of company decision makers stating they have seen greater employee retention after adding or improving their benefits packages. Once an employer has aligned benefits to meet or exceed employee expectations, retention soars.

What are core benefits? 

There are four components in the basket of core benefits that employees throughout the world expect. In most industries in most countries, governments either provide these benefits as part of the social safety net or require employers to provide them. 

  1. Health insurance covers medical treatment that can be accessed in a timely manner at any point in an employee’s life. This benefit often includes vision and dental plans. 

  2. Life insurance protects employees’ families against lost income and assists in building added financial security. 

  3. Disability insurance safeguards an employee against income loss in the event of an accident or illness that makes it impossible for them to work. 

  4. Retirement funds and pension plans provide employees with peace of mind in knowing they and their families will continue to enjoy an appropriate standard of living after they exit the workforce.

Where a national government program already provides one of these benefits, an employer is typically not required to offer that same benefit. In some cases — for example, strong public health insurance in Australia — employers can eschew health insurance in favor of other benefits that will make them more competitive.  

Any statutory benefits not provided by the government must be specifically folded into a company’s benefits program. And all employer-provided benefits programs must comply with the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction where an employee works. 

Learn how to attract top talent with Remote's Global Benefits Report

Insights from 2,500+ decision makers and employees in key markets to help you uncover the benefits your team want and need in 2023.

Robust benefits programs boost trust - and retention

Employers around the world are facing increased challenges to fill open roles. With the best-prepared employees in high demand, it’s worthwhile to consider offering robust and localized benefits

Experts note that it can actually cost employers more when they don’t offer core benefits as part of a robust compensation package. The cost of filling vacant positions resulting from turnover of dissatisfied employees can amount to multiple months (or potentially more than an entire year) of the salary for that role..

Offering a strong core benefits program is also the socially responsible thing to do. Doing so demonstrates company support for values that view employees’ overall wellbeing as a priority. In order to achieve this goal, employers should focus on minimizing benefits differences from country to country. 

Here’s one Bucharest-based employee’s experience, after she discovered that her company’s British employees were receiving a pension plan, extra health coverage, free lunches, and other perks: “I constantly felt like they didn’t care as much about the employees in Eastern Europe, who barely got any benefits…I quit after a year, even though they offered me a raise to try to get me to stay. I’ve also told friends in the local tech community that they aren’t a great company to consider working for.”

Nadia Vatalidis, Remote’s VP of People, has this to say:

“If some employees don’t get the same standard of benefits as their colleagues because of where they live, the disparity will make them feel like they don’t truly belong in your organization. This in turn will have a big impact on productivity and retention.” 

One size doesn’t fit all

To attract and retain the best talent any market has to offer, offer core benefits that are competitive. It doesn’t matter whether you’re based in Rome or Tangiers, Singapore or Buenos Aires — benefits matter. A company’s reputation for benefit equity quickly becomes part of its brand within an industry, so it’s essential that you demonstrate your commitment to equity by providing comparable employee experiences for your team, regardless of where they log in. 

Your job is to do your due diligence to ensure your teams have their basic needs met with benefits that are truly useful to them in each of your locations, whether these benefits are provided by you or the government. You don’t want a benefit to turn into a net negative for your employees. 

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Global Benefits Guide and attract top global talent

Remote's global HR experts share practical advice for building a locally relevant and globally compliant benefits program to help you attract and keep the world's best talent.

Benefits guide preview

In looking at benefits, an employer must understand what teams working in a specific country need and want. A one-size-fits-all benefits package, structured identically in all countries in which the employer does business, just isn’t going to work.

In some cases, offering a blanket benefits program can actually be detrimental to the interests of employees. Their countries might impose additional taxes on an unwanted or unneeded benefit, or they might be forced to deal with onerous paperwork filings with their governments. You will also save significant sums of money when you don’t pay for unnecessary benefits. 

Fair equity and total rewards

This is also where the concept of “fair equity” comes in. Fair equity refers to the practice of providing every employee with not just the benefits required by law, but also the additional benefits that will support them in making the best of their personal and professional lives. 

Think about global benefits more as total rewards. It’s actually counterproductive to try to achieve surface equality. What you’re really trying to do is give every member of your team the logistical and financial support they need in order to perform at their best. In some countries, this might involve larger salaries to compensate for benefits that might be hard to access or not necessary if the government offers equivalent programs. 

Lifestyle benefits enhance core benefits

A core benefits package is different in kind from a lifestyle benefits package, also known as perks. Lifestyle benefits go above and beyond core or statutory benefits in order to enhance employees’ comfort, enjoyment, and physical, emotional, and financial wellness. They can include support for maintaining a home office, professional or personal skill-building opportunities, flexible working hours, and family and social benefits, such as childcare and paid parental leave. 

While not required as part of a package designed to meet employees’ basic needs, lifestyle benefits are increasingly expected, particularly by the best talent applying for positions with top international companies. Look at adding these perks alongside your core benefits packages. They can help you not only build trust and increase employee engagement but maintain your competitive edge as well. 

A typical benefits stack includes healthcare, dental and vision insurance, and a pension plan. But add in the lifestyle benefits of a modern benefits stack — including wellness and mental health care, flexible hours, home office and coworking allowances, and generous paid leave policies — and you’re ready to attract and retain the best talent the world has to offer. 

Parental leave is particularly important from the standpoint of fair equity as a proven equalizer for working women. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that close to 30 percent of women who don’t have the benefit of paid parental leave will leave their jobs within one year after having a baby. Paid parental leave is also important for the parent who hasn’t given birth, allowing them to bond with their child. As 

Vatalidis says, “Providing equal opportunity for time off to welcome a new family member is crucial for an employee to bring their best self to work.”

Working with an employer of record simplifies everything

You’ve seen how challenging it is to create meaningful, compliant benefits packages for a distributed workforce. Doing so involves painstaking, complex strategy and negotiation. If you were to establish your own corporate bank accounts, business registrations, human resources teams, and benefits packages in a new country, you might be waiting as long as a year before you could even do business. Remote provides you with all the local experience needed to let you and your employees hit the ground running

Our benefits teams have developed the expertise that allows them to craft benefits packages directed to the needs of employees in each country where we do business. We navigate the toughest parts of the job for you: negotiating terms, conducting market research, and handling the full range of associated administrative tasks, all with no marked-up premiums or extra administrative fees. 

The added value of working with a knowledgeable partner, one that can consistently liaise with the right entities on the ground to structure and manage every type of benefits plan, also minimizes your risk as you expand internationally. Our ability to offer large group plans means that we can offer you highly competitive rates (in many countries starting as low as $113 per month) on the full range of pension plans and medical, life, and disability coverage for your employees. 

The benefits industry is a numbers game, so it’s especially difficult to establish in-country benefits for smaller teams. If you try to build a benefits package for a single employee in, say, the Czech Republic, local insurance brokers may not want to deal with the risk involved in proportion to the premiums received. And, if that one employee goes on to file a claim for hospitalization due to an auto accident, you will likely see your premiums skyrocket. 

Working with Remote, you can take advantage of our strength in numbers. In building market-specific benefits packages for hundreds or thousands of employees in a country, we can help you access premium rates from top brokers. 

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With Remote on your side, you’ll be able to concentrate on building your teams and growing your business while we handle the administration and the paperwork. O

ur in-depth experience and networks of relationships with diverse groups of local providers around the world enable Remote to offer core compensation packages geared to the labor and payroll laws of each country where we maintain a presence.