International HR: How to use technology to shift from a regionalized approach to a global strategy
The world has shrunk and we’re all far more connected than we’ve ever been before, thanks to the introduction of platforms like Skype and Microsoft Teams.
It’s meant that organizations, too, have become increasingly more interconnected; globalization continues at pace; and technology has removed the barriers to trading internationally. Small and mid-sized companies are now joining their larger counterparts and seeking out new markets to compete in the global arena.
In fact, 45% of businesses are either currently expanding globally or plan to do so within the next year, despite the global pandemic.
Globalization doesn’t come without its challenges for HR leaders, though. Managing multiple offices, with multiple systems – possibly in multiple languages – invariably creates more room for error. Not to mention, significant headache and admin for HR teams.
It does, however, give HR and People leaders an opportunity to drive long-awaited change and growth on a whole new scale for the organization.
Moving away from regionalized HR approaches to a consistent global one, enables you to align processes across the business. You can also have the right structure and organizational design in place to scale and grow your people management capabilities at the same pace the business is expanding globally.
Wherever you are on your global HR journey, here five things to think about when you consider technology as you shift from a regionalized HR approach, to a global one.
1. Within a global approach, consider flexibility for local variation
Getting the balance right between a local feel and a global community is a fine art – one that HR and People teams need to master to feel the true benefits of a successful global organization. It’s what employees want to see.
Done well, it means that employees feel their needs based on where they live are top of mind, but still provided with aligned benefits and communication to other employees across the globe.
A successful global HR strategy (as opposed to a regionalized approach) is a balance of consistent standardized processes, combined with the flexibility to accommodate local policies and ways of working. You’ll need HR capabilities that enable you to realign your workforce and working practices with the shifting global footprint of the business.
A multinational HR system gives you powerful flexibility to create a unique global system based on your specific requirements, allowing you to easily configure workflows and processes for each region, and adapt content for specific countries as needed. In a nutshell: it means you can design the best process that works for you globally and roll that out across all your regions.
As you think about moving away from a regionalized approach towards a global strategy, the types of things you should look for in a multinational HR system include the ability to:
- Easily manage multiple languages, multiple currencies, and multiple date formats
- Seamlessly adapt to local variations of policies
- Provide unique self-service experiences based on location and adapt content for different countries
- Offer distinctive self-service experiences based on region
- Localize time and attendance by accommodating regional public, religious and cultural holidays
2. Manage local compliance from one global system
Maintaining compliance is an absolute necessity, but it can become a real headache when businesses expand rapidly into new territories. From Working Time Regulations and sick leave, to data compliance, pensions and health care, regulations all vary by country, and it can be easy to get tripped up.
HR and People leaders need a global approach that allows you to effortlessly manage global practices and local rules automatically. An automated multinational cloud HR system takes care of this so you can rest easily, safe in the knowledge that you have the tools to help manage legislation at a local level across your international operations. Make sure you look out for a system that enables you to:
- Set up predefined policy rules for local compliance requirements
- Easily manage localized policies that accrue automatically, such as annual leave
- Mitigate risk with built-in compliance with data and security standards like GDPR, and ISO 27001
- Implement sophisticated permissions to ensure sensitive HR data is only accessible to those who need it
3. Access comprehensive reporting and analytics globally
Understanding your HR and People data is important for single country organizations, but it’s even more vital for those operating internationally. Multinational organizations need to be flexible, nimble, and agile to keep pace in a competitive and fast paced environment.
They require full oversight of the company’s biggest asset – its people – at any one time. So, cobbling together headcounts, attrition rates, salary information, absenteeism, and other metrics from different offices, all with their own reporting methods, simply won’t cut it. It’s too time consuming and open to human error.
Harness the power of your People data in one centralized system that becomes your single source of truth, enabling you to make quick, informed actionable decisions based on up-the-minute data. When you’re considering technology in your global approach, think about the ability to:
- Hold and maintain all your people data both globally and across all regions
- View data and report on trends both globally and locally too
- Analyze data across different countries so you can implement tailored strategies per region
- Help managers be prepared to see which teams might be a flight risk
- See skills and competencies across locations and globally
4. Tap into automation to manage consistency and reduce admin
With HR leaders always having too much work to do and not enough time, automation is a real game-changer.
When there are inconsistencies across markets, such as different processes across countries, it creates inefficiencies and duplicates effort. Automating HR processes helps to streamline processes and means the business can scale quickly and easily – vital for companies looking to expand their global footprint.
Having a consistent global HR strategy also delivers fairness and equality. It means your global multinational workforce are treated with the same values and creates a standardized framework across different processes, such as hiring and onboarding.
Massively reduce the amount of time spent on HR admin and allow your HR team to move away from being a purely transactional function, to being a strategic people-focused team with automation. Make sure, however, you look for a system that includes the ability to:
- Manage expansion across regions, countries and continents more effectively and efficiently
- Streamline processes with automated and configurable workflows
- Relinquish the burden of overseeing employee requests with self-service
- Find and hire the best people faster with automated job posting and CV screening
- Support collaborative working and opportunities for international placements by having a consistent system that makes it easy to move resources across global boundaries
5. Don’t forget a consistent digital experience across all regions
With so much change and increasing expectations in the workplace, creating consistent, world-class employee experiences your employees will love no matter where they’re based has never been so important.
Having one global approach is vital, and a multinational cloud HR system pivotal to this. Consider the impact of regional specific portals and that can be accessed on any device at any time. These can flex to provide consistent experiences across all your geos, making your disparate and diverse workforce feel like they are part of one company. Or, be tailored by each region dependent on country-specific messages. Look for functionality in technology that enables you to:
- Enhance company communication with branded tailored messages for specific groups and teams
- Leverage the power of global pulse surveys and employee feedback to tailor employee experiences
- Enable colleague recognition and enhance relationships across borders through real time feedback
- Give employees everywhere a consistent experience for requesting leave and managing data
- Share and track joint goals across your global workforce
Put your people first – and global growth will follow
Globalization is changing the business landscape fast. For HR and People leaders, having a global approach – instead of a regionalized one – means a simplified HR operating model that liberates your team from admin, and is set up correctly to support the business as it grow.
Our eBook explains in more detail how HR and People leaders can move to a global approach. If you’ve been operating in multiple countries for a while and want to align to a global strategy but don’t know where to begin, this eBook is for you. If you’re yet to begin on a global expansion journey and want to understand the benefits of a consistent approach, you’re in the right place. Or maybe you already have a global HR strategy in place, but want to see how you’re tracking and compare best-in class practices.
We promise you will be confident and equipped to create, improve, or expand a global HR strategy. One that frees you up from laborious admin and enables you to sleep soundly at night, knowing you have a global people management solution in place that supports the business and can handle anything the c-suite requires.
Download our eBook ‘International HR: How to build a global HR strategy’ to get started today.
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