Benefits packages play key role in war for talent

Is your benefits package relevant? Have you checked your firm’s benefits, on a country-by-country basis? Do you know what your various local marketplaces require?

Benefits tend to be organised into three sections: statutory, market and competitive requirements.

To operate in a foreign market, you must deliver an array of benefits that are compliant with what is required by national law. These statutory requirements will vary from country to country, and may also vary within countries. The Chinese province of Guangdong, for example, has different requirements to the municipality of Beijing, and the US state of California is quite different to Georgia.

Once compliant, you must be able to attract, develop and retain the best talent. To do this you will need to, at least, meet what the recruitment market is demanding. However, it is important to realise that you cannot just look at your direct competitors and see what they are providing. You must look at the firms with which you compete for talent.

Finally, you must be prepared to deliver an array of benefits above and beyond the competitive marketplace, depending on what you require your people to do.

But it doesn’t stop there. Once you have hired someone, your remit to deliver a competitive compensation and benefits package continues.

Trotting out the development buffet does not end or mitigate your requirement to continue to attract people. Many of the same things that attract ‘high potentials’ are necessary to retain them.

When you get into new markets, do you have the operational discipline in your compensation and benefits area to understand, on a country-by-country basis, what is required to effectively attract, develop and retain your top talent?

In India, for example, the benefits provided for employees, especially senior employees, are staggering. A quick look at the most recent volumes from two large consulting firm surveys shows benefits ranging from housing and cafeterias to commuting allowances.

Faced with an expensive range of benefits, you must understand the impact this will have on your business and your growth plans.

And what if you are not among the companies providing this rich pool of benefits? You will still fill your openings – after all, there are more than one billion people in India. But will you have hired the best and the brightest? When top talent is a ‘fast market’ – and it always is – can you compete? And if you choose not to, what effect will that have on your long-term strategy plans?

Capitalism rules, and if you are seeking scarce skills, such as C++ programmers in Bandar Seri Bagawan or desalination PhDs in Abu Dhabi, you will have to make hard decisions about what market-driven benefits you are willing to accept, and what you are willing to pay. If you do not, you will also have to understand what you may be trading away.

Lance Richards
Senior director of international HR
Kelly Services, GPHR

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