The best HR leaders know that employee benefits are critical in attracting and retaining top talent. In fact, many employees consider benefits as their top priority when choosing where to work – more important than even a salary.
While many companies in the United States offer competitive employee benefits packages, top HR leaders optimize their offerings by emulating peers from around the globe. Read on to discover ten countries that set the standard for employee benefits – and three ways U.S. HR leaders can follow their lead.
The adage “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” clearly does not apply to Luxembourg. Companies in the Northern European country commonly offer luncheon vouchers that employees redeem for meals. Many Luxembourg companies also provide their employees with a company car for both business and pleasure purposes. It is also customary for Luxembourg companies to offer employees an additional month’s salary every December – a bonus aptly timed for the holiday season.
Companies in Switzerland champion the idea of a healthy work-life balance. While the Swiss government guarantees employees at least 20 days off work annually, Swiss companies go above and beyond that benchmark. In 2019, Swiss companies granted their employees an average of 5.2 weeks off from work. Switzerland also mandates that employees work no more than 45 hours per week. In 2019, Swiss employees worked an average of about 41 hours per week – an amount that surely appeals to U.S. workers accustomed to logging more than 50 hours per week.
One of Australia’s most noteworthy benefits involves annual leave. Under Australian law, companies must pay all employees annual leave based on their regular hours of work. Usually, this translates to four weeks of annual leave per year – though some employers grant more. Employees accumulate leave even while on vacation and can roll over unused leave from one year to another.
Like Australia and Switzerland, Sweden has a reputation for offering generous paid time off. Here, employers grant workers 25 paid days off per year—these guaranteed five weeks of vacation position Sweden as a world leader in annual leave.
Norway stands out for its employee-friendly benefits surrounding family leave. Mothers in Norway are entitled to 49 fully paid weeks of maternity leave or 59 weeks at 80% pay. While fathers can take a maximum of 10 weeks of paternity leave, parents together can receive up to 56 weeks of additional child leave.
Employers in Denmark are known for the generous unemployment benefits they provide their former employees. The country mandates that employers grant ex-employees up to 90% of their salary for a maximum of three years after leaving the company. The Danish government also offers robust job re-activation programs. These programs help 70% of displaced employees return to the workforce within one year of unemployment.
Like Norway, New Zealand boasts generous maternity and paternity leave (locally referred to as partners leave). Employers in New Zealand provide workers with paid leave that starts three weeks before a child’s due date and extends 22 weeks after the baby is born. Employers in New Zealand also offer parents ten days of annual unpaid leave for pregnancy-related appointments.
The Netherlands is similar to other European countries in that its employers offer a substantial minimum wage. Dutch companies must pay every worker above 21, no less than € 1,653.60 – $1,955 USD – every month. This sum is significantly higher than in the U.S., where a full-time worker earning the $7.25 per hour minimum wage would only take home $1,208 per month.
While the rest of the world is beginning to embrace remote work and flexible work schedules, Finland has been a global leader in employee-friendly work arrangements for decades. The country passed the Working Hours Act in 1996, giving workers more freedom in deciding when they work. By 2011, Finland led the world in flexible scheduling, with 92% of the country’s companies allowing workers to adjust their hours. Finland updated the Working Hours Act in 2020, granting employees the ability to decide when and where they work for at least half their working hours.
In a country renowned for its efficiency, there is hard evidence that German workers get more done in less time. German workers logged an average of about 27 hours per week in 2019, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This low weekly total follows a landmark 2018 legal battle in which German workers won a 28-hour workweek. Considering the legislation guaranteeing ample time off, it’s no wonder that Germans are some of the world’s most active travelers.
Three Employee-Friendly Changes U.S. HR Leaders Can Make Today
For HR leaders looking to stay ahead of the competition, employee benefits are a key differentiator. When HR leaders meet the most employee-friendly countries’ standards, they can compete for top talent on the global stage.
The following are three strategies, inspired by the countries on the above list, that forward-thinking U.S. HR leaders should implement today.
Adopt a Flexible Work Schedule: The era of the strict 9-5 workday is over. Giving employees the ability to work flexible hours allows them time to exercise, take care of errands, or take breaks to improve focus and productivity. As evidenced by Finland, which continues to increase scheduling agility for its workers, the idea of a flexible workday is gaining in popularity for employers and employees alike.
Increase Time Off For Your Employees: Workers in the U.S. are consistently among the world leaders in hours logged every year. What’s more, the U.S. is one of the only countries in the world with no federal statutory minimum time off for workers. And while countries like Australia, Switzerland, and Sweden grant workers a minimum of 20-25 vacation days per year, U.S. workers must work for an average of 20 years before accumulating 20 days of vacation. U.S. companies who adopt more employee-friendly vacation policies keep up with world leaders – and increase their ability to win top talent.
Grant More Time For Child Leave: According to a 2019 Unicef report, the United States is the only OECD or EU nation with no guaranteed child leave for parents. Meanwhile, countries like Estonia, which guarantees female workers 84 months of maternity leave, or Austria, which offers up to 60 weeks of maternity leave, set a lofty standard. As COVID-19 increases the challenges of parenting, workers view paid child leave as an increasingly appealing benefit. HR leaders looking to improve employee benefits should update their child leave policies to reflect changing norms – and to keep pace with leading countries worldwide.
Hire Globally with the Leader in International Expansion
Hiring and retaining the right employees requires providing the right benefits. That’s why HR leaders looking to compete with the world’s top companies need to stay on top of leading employee benefits trends.
With experience providing employee benefits to workers in 185 countries, Velocity Global has the expertise to help you offer the right benefits for your employees – no matter where they are or what they do. Contact us today to find out how.