It’s been a testing time for the 213 million global businesses what with the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the climate crisis, and cost of inflation. The predictions made by economists about inflation a few months ago came true, but people didn’t quite know how it would affect them to a certain extent. Some saw their mortgage repayments go up. Some had to avoid buying extras at the supermarket. Most of the complaints were directed at oil prices that pushed the price of petrol / gasoline up and beyond anything sensible for most people (at the time of writing, petrol / gasoline in the UK cost 199.46 pence per liter for super unleaded, and 5.4 dollars per gallon on the west coast of the USA).
When the cost of living goes up, people start to worry about their financial situation, and this can lead to problems relating to mental health. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022 found some scary figures for global business to digest, namely that 40% of the global workforce were feeling worried with 44% saying they were stressed out, and only 22% were living comfortably on their present income. The report breaks these figures down country by country, but they, perhaps, don’t give the full picture about what global businesses have to consider when thinking about their employees.
Many multinational global companies have a complicated workforce, and this has been further exacerbated by the side-effect of hybrid/remote work caused by the pandemic. It’s fair to say that large multinational companies should be organized enough to cater for its workforce no matter where they find themselves, but this isn’t the case for some. Business magazine, Forbes, published an article called Don’t Ignore The Deskless Workforce a couple of years ago claimed that “84% of deskless workers say they don’t get enough direct communication from top management” to name but one problem area, and that “four-fifths of businesses say they’re planning to increase their deskless-tech investments, with an average spending increase of 31%”. That’s quite a hike! Of course, this just concerns deskless workers, but it actually covers those who work hybrid or remote as well, as common 5-day week jobs have fallen out of favor to some degree.
So, how do businesses keep themselves prepared for the unpredictable? Well, they should take a leaf out of Finland’s handling of the pandemic. They put aside medical supplies for such an occasion, mainly based on the country’s history, and that they should be prepared for the worst. This example should serve as an example to global businesses as they think about their benefits strategy. Depending on how spread out a workforce is, the type of work, and how statutory benefits work, businesses who use HR tech to gauge what their employees’ needs should be more prepared for unforeseen circumstances than a business that don’t.
In the case of Finland, they stockpiled medical supplies that everyone would need, and this shouldn’t be too far-fetched when it comes to benefits either. There will be common benefits that all employees will want, and this could range from anything from gym memberships to pensions to insurances. However, there will be employees in different countries, immersed in different cultures, that may want benefits that are specific to them, and in these cases, HR tech has advanced so much in recent times that it’s easier for businesses to roll out bespoke benefits for the minority of employees that want them.
What is the bottom line when it comes to benefit strategy in ever-changing world conditions?
In short, large multinational companies with global workforces that have complicated structures of deskless vs. desk jobs should focus on implementing common benefits employees want and need first before anything else. The Society for Human Resource Management say the three benefits that matter most are generous paid holiday, flexible work and paid family leave (SHRM excluded insurance-related benefits from this). If we take these three benefits as an example, and then apply a catastrophic event (e.g. another pandemic), these benefits will still be accessible no matter what happens or where an employee finds themselves on the planet. If we factor in other benefits, like medical insurances or treatments, dental treatments, and pensions, then we’re able to see the same model Finland had about stockpiling for an emergency. If your benefits package is seeing some benefits go unclaimed, then it’s time to cut them loose and focus on the commonly claimed ones.
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