IT and business services organisation NTT Data has operations across the globe, including the UK, Ireland, US and Nordic regions. In the Republic of Ireland, this currently amounts to 15 employees, but the business has plans for growth and expansion over the coming years.
When it comes to providing a benefits package that spans this diverse range of locations, the organisation has a clear strategy.
Chris Carter, head of reward at NTT Data, says: “We try to keep parity across the types of benefits that we offer. There are specific local benefits that we do support, but our benefit principles are centralised; global where possible but it should also be reflective of the local market. It should be a hybrid between the two.”
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This is sometimes easier said than done, however, as Carter points to the varied maturity levels of different benefit markets, where places such as the US might be ahead of the UK, and Ireland is slightly further back still. This means a more limited choice not only on the benefits providers, but the types of perks it is possible to access.
This can mean a dynamic whereby employees feel their counterparts, say in the UK, are getting a better deal, simply because it has been difficult to replicate the same benefits on the ground in Ireland. The trick to keeping people happy is simple: open communication that addresses these differences, and makes clear the efforts being made to provide an equal proposition now and in the future, says Carter.
“The benefits market in Ireland is growing slowly, as different benefits and providers start to develop. This is one of the reasons we are looking to make some changes over the next 18 months,” Carter adds.
There are some elements, where employees arguably get a more comprehensive deal in Ireland, due to local legislative differences. The prime example of this would be private medical insurance (PMI), which is much more widespread and wide-ranging, as Ireland does not have the same access to healthcare systems as the UK. In addition, the long-term disability provision in Ireland is more enhanced, because this is a more widely-expected benefit as a result of local trends.
NTT Data provides PMI to all employees in Ireland, either just for the employee or for their whole family. The business also gives staff the option to ‘trade up’ their plan at the point of need, though none have had to take advantage of this yet.
In other aspects, the benefits for employees in Ireland maintain parity with the UK; for example, staff get the same pension and life assurance provisions.
Across the globe, NTT Data aims to ensure that all employees have access to life insurance, an employee assistance programme (EAP), and a pension, albeit in different formats across different locations. All of this fits within an overall goal to be seen as a caring employer.
Over the coming 18 months, Carter plans to boost parity between the UK and Ireland, such as by implementing a flexible benefits system. However, this is a relatively new element in Ireland, and it can be difficult to stock a flex plan, simply due to a lack of providers.
There are also quite a few trends that will feed into NTT Data’s evolving benefits package in Ireland, adds Carter. Travel season tickets and car allowances remain in strong demand, while things like access to discounts on gadgets, or travel insurance, are slowly growing in popularity; though the latter is currently tied in with PMI. Finally, NTT Data plans to introduce holiday trading, which is also gathering momentum among Irish employees.
While aiming to keep the benefits package evolving, it is important for NTT Data to consider whether these changes are practical, and whether they can be automated so as not to overload the HR team, while continuing to make the business competitive in a thriving employment market.
“What every business wants to do is to make sure that [it is] competitive,” Carter explains. “Dublin is very competitive: it’s the European high-tech capital of the world for American [organisations], because it’s English speaking and gives some access to Europe. So, the likes of Apple, Facebook and Amazon are all in Ireland, and tech roles are at a premium. Dublin has also become much more cosmopolitan; it’s a growth area.”