January 11, 2020
A common practice among global corporations has been to use country-specific market norms when developing benefits packages. Some use the market median, others (in tight labor markets, for example) may target above the median. Gaps in coverage have often been viewed as difficult to change and actually normative in light of the need to compete locally. Recently, however, more companies are seeking to operate as truly global enterprises. As a result, some have been reconsidering a locally driven, market approach to benefits. Other factors, such as the demand for greater consistency and equity across the workforce, are also at play. The concept of minimum core standards has emerged when gaps appear in what many consider basic benefits (e.g., life insurance, medical coverage, vision, dental, etc.) Health and medical benefits are of particular interest, as gaps in coverage can have life or death consequences for employees. For this reason, this guide has been developed primarily with an eye to medical coverage, although many of the elements included are applicable to other types of benefits as well. This report discusses the business rationale and key elements needed to develop minimum core benefits globally, which has proven to be challenging. Several leading employers have started this effort with varying levels of success. They have learned that this approach is a journey, and it will take time and persistence to make meaningful gains.