The majority of multinational companies now see global expansion and mobility as a key driver of competitive advantage, but pivotal to the success of managing and engaging a global workforce is a sound global benefits strategy, and an effective administration process.
As business owners continue to realise the advantages of expanding to international markets and offering their staff flexible working options, HR technology will play a major role in keeping these remote employees engaged.
Utilising new technologies, employers can offer compelling employee self-service platforms and portals that promote effective engagement and build global identity through harmonised, branded reward and communication programs with the same look, feel and structure internationally.
However, the process of benefits administration is inherently complex, often involving some degree of manual administration, with multiple providers and many different administrative processes varying from benefit to benefit.
This process becomes increasingly challenging when administering benefits in multiple markets, as every region and every country is different, requiring different benefits processes from country to country.
As findings from our own research in the 2014 Global Rewards Watch report show, there is also a lack of consistency in the way benefits are currently administered inside one organisation around the world.
Less than 30% of respondents are using some type of software to administer and communicate their benefits globally, while almost half (49%) have a different approach and a mix of manual processes and software in each country.
Two thirds (66%) of HR professionals surveyed struggle with the administrative efficiency of their benefit providers, 53% of respondents said they were experiencing a burden on internal resources with administrating benefits, while 39% were having difficulties reporting globally.
A quarter of multinationals already use global software, such as dedicated global benefits management and HR software to manage their benefits, a solution that two thirds (66%) of those surveyed were keen to adopt, but faced challenges in doing so.
Although there doesn’t appear to be a single barrier to the implementation of global employee engagement and benefits software, getting buy in from head office (23%) and regional offices (22%) seems to be the biggest problem, more than likely the result of being unable to demonstrate the return on investment on their current benefits strategy as well as report on costs globally.
Online-hosted (SaaS) solutions are predicted to become more prevalent in the HR technology space, particularly around global benefit administration and employee engagement software, streamlining benefits administration, governance and compliance across multiple regions, and improving processes for companies with complex benefits administration structures, including multinational companies with workforces that span multiple regions.
In many markets there is evidence of increasing state involvement in benefits, from retirement to health care, and here, global benefits administration technology can ensure that country-specific reporting requirements and compliance regulations are easily managed from a centralised, integrated source.
If global organisations are to continue to grow and expand into new markets, while retaining consistency in their benefits administration and delivering on employee engagement, they need to consider embracing a technological solution, and it falls to HR to articulate the business case for change and win the buy in of the organisational decision makers.