Employee Benefits Summit 2009: Benefits globalisation requires flexibility

Global benefits strategies must be flexible enough to reflect local cultures, said Debra Corey, senior director compensation and benefits for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Quintiles at the Employee Benefits Summit in Monte Carlo.

This can result in the provision of some unusual benefits. In India, for example, employers provide an allowance for staff to purchase curtains, while Canadian employees receive massages funded by their private medical insurance (PMI) cover.

Corey explained that there are a number of global trends currently impacting on international reward. “The challenge we have with globalisation is how do we balance everything?” she said.

These challenges include the emerging shortage of skills, knowledge and experience available to employers, increased labour market mobility and increasing sophistication within the workplace. The latter two, in particular, mean that employees are increasingly aware of how their reward package compares to colleagues based in other locations.

“People are getting a bit smarter, which makes our job a bit harder to in reward,” said Corey.

Employers must also tackle the growing interest in managing talent globally and the increasing need to manage reward costs. To overcome these challenges, they may need to look past traditional solutions, and exercise creativity and flexibility.

Quintiles’ global recognition scheme

Quintiles operates a global recognition scheme for staff in more than 50 countries. Corey explained its introduction was a natural evolution for the company because its core values are embedded in its culture..

“You can offer a very successful global programme if you do it in the right way,” said Corey.

But she added that the scheme is not suitable for some countries, so the company offers a cash alternation instead of the gifts awarded in most locations.

This flexibility is important to enable Quintiles to create a balance between meeting global and local needs, said Corey.