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How to adapt employee benefits to cater to self-defined expats

The COVID-19 pandemic has normalized “work from home”, which is quickly turning into “work from anywhere” and creating a new breed of expats – the self-defined expats. Whether it’s taking advantage of the lower cost of living or getting the freedom to travel and explore, there are clearly numerous benefits of working abroad and it’s not hard to see why employees are craving it. That being said, any major shift in the way we work necessitates a change in employer mindset and strategy as well. In this Pacific Prime article, we take a closer look at employee benefits for the self-defined expat.

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Understanding self-defined expats

An expat or expatriate is a person residing in a country other than their native country. In common usage, the term refers to professionals and skilled employees outside their home country, either sent abroad by their employer (often with very attractive employee benefits packages) or venturing abroad independently to either apply for a job or do freelance type work as a digital nomad.

However, the pandemic’s acceleration of remote working arrangements has created a new category of expats. These self-defined expats have full-time, secure jobs in one country – with no need for them to go abroad for work, but want the freedom to travel and work from wherever they please. What impact does hiring self-defined expats have on a company? As usual, there are two sides of the same coin.

Pros of hiring self-defined expats for companies

With the ‘great resignation’ and a looming talent shortage, companies who are open to hiring self-defined expats significantly open up their pool of candidates. There’s no reason why your graphic designer can’t be in the Bahamas or your web developer can’t be in Bangkok, as long as they can liaise with and produce top-quality work for your team in London or wherever else you’re located.

Beyond opening up the pool of candidates, companies that have employees spread across the globe (and, by default, facilitate a remote workforce) are also going to be seen as forward-thinking companies who prioritize productivity over presenteeism. These companies will earn a name for themselves as the ‘employer of choice’, which further enhances their attractiveness.

Further reading: What makes a top employer in 2021?

Cons of hiring self-defined expats for companies

On the other hand, hiring self-defined expats also means having to ensure compliance with complicated regulations, taxation, and visa requirements depending on the country in question. This leads to more paperwork on behalf of the HR team, which can put a strain on the company’s resources, and so many companies might just stipulate residency/citizenship requirements when hiring.

Moreover, it’s also going to transform the employee benefits landscape for self-defined expats. They don’t fall under the category of expats sent abroad by the company, who qualify for employee benefits packages that include things like schooling for children. But they also don’t fall under the category of local employees who benefit from things like the 401(k) plan offered by many US employers or Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) by many Hong Kong employers.

Employee benefits for self-defined expats

As the world of employee benefits is evolving to reflect changing work cultures, it’s vital for companies to reevaluate their employee benefits strategy to align with their organizational goals and meet their workforces’ needs, including self-defined expats (if any). It’s also important to aim (as much as possible) for consistency in employee benefits offered globally. Doing so leads to fewer concerns and issues for employees trying to understand their benefits in a new location, which can increase their loyalty and engagement.

International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI)

For employees spread across the globe, offering international private medical insurance (IPMI) is a good bet, as this allows them to access quality care no matter where in the world they happen to be. Alongside this, companies can also offer Global Employee Assistance Programs, Global Virtual GPs, and other wellness services.

Benefits optimized for a location-agnostic workforce

Will there be a place for team lunches, an on-site gym, or other office-specific perks? Of course, there will. But alongside this, companies should also have a range of location-agnostic benefits for self-defined expats who are working remotely in other countries. When devising these benefits, the sky is your limit. You can be creative and offer benefits like:

  • Stipend for work equipment such as standing desks or ergonomic chairs
  • Professional development fund to enroll in online courses and other training opportunities
  • Mental health days
  • Time off to volunteer
  • And a whole lot more!

For all things employee benefits, get in touch with Pacific Prime today!

As a leading global health insurance brokerage and employee benefits specialist, Pacific Prime is at the forefront of the latest employee benefits trends and developments, and helps companies of all sizes and industries design, implement, and optimize their employee benefits offerings. We adopt a tailored, technology-first approach to ensure that your employee benefits strategy is in line with the goals of your organization and needs of your workforce.

To dive headfirst into the world of employee benefits, check out our Global Employee Benefits Report 2020. Available free of charge, the report explores the top six benefits trends globally and the various factors influencing their popularity, and is packed with rich statistics, illustrative case studies, as well as tips on how to implement the benefits in question. You can also keep an eye out on our resource page for the upcoming 2021 edition of the report.

Our corporate team is also available for a consultation. Send an inquiry today and one of the team members will be in touch!

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Suphanida aims to demystify the world of insurance by creating informative and engaging content. As a wordsmith, she spends the majority of her day writing and editing website content, blog posts, in-depth guides, and more.

Outside of work, Suphanida enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.
Suphanida