Local knowledge vital for keeping benefits relevant, says Galapagos’ Sush Dhonsi
Biotechnology company Galapagos was founded in 1999 to discover new medicines. Since then, we’ve grown from our headquarters in Belgium to have more than 1,500 employees across 15 countries, mainly in Europe and the US.
As the business has expanded, we have adapted benefits strategy and governance to ensure they support business objectives. We focus on core benefits such as pensions, life and healthcare, but also look at local markets and the tax optimisations. These can be a driving force to implement something that is part of our company culture.
An example of this is an internet allowance offered across all markets. While some employees enjoy tax breaks on it due to the local legislation, for others we increase the payment to cover the tax so they are no worse off. We also give employees a one-off €500 when they join the company to cover their home office set-up.
As the company has expanded, keeping track of each market has become more of a challenge. We rely on local brokers in each country. I speak with them regularly to ensure they are aware of the company’s strategic approach and our core values and check if there have been significant legislative or benefits changes that might affect our programme.
I also rely on my HR colleagues in other countries. It can be a bit hit-and-miss with the local brokers and I have found myself having to nudge them if I’ve found something out first or if one of my colleagues draws my attention to a change. Having a global broker is in some ways smoother as you have more structured meetings and look at benefits across all countries, but we’ve not quite reached the scale yet.