Capitalising on a global workforce: talent & technology

Written by
Changeboard Team

11 Mar 2014

11 Mar 2014 • by Changeboard Team

Globally recognised talent

Globalisation is at the forefront of most business leader’s minds, and understandably so, as it is recognised that collaboration across the stack – economically, politically, and socially – is the only way to successfully address world issues.

When tackling climate change, political upheaval and poverty, leaders acknowledge that working in silo is not the way to solve these issues.

Indeed, when you reflect upon the industries that continue to trail blaze and increase their profits against the odds of a challenging economy, such as technology manufacturers, you see that they adopted a globalised business strategy long ago.

Technology manufacturers have learnt to cherry pick the best of what a country has to offer to create a federalised business model that cleverly balances cost, talent and innovation.

Taking a globalised approach makes sense – while western economies continue to struggle to stabilise and maintain their current GDP rates, the GDP rates continue to rise exponentially in the emerging markets. The emerging markets are now globally recognised talent hubs that are igniting economies world-wide with savvy strategies that are underpinned by technology to help drive business innovation, collaboration and ultimately growth.

For example, emerging countries place great value on education, with a significant percentage of their GDP being invested in education annually.

Collaborate with emerging talent

Some of the brightest talent is emerging from the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – and corporations who are migrating to a globalised business model and workforce are jumping to impress, recruit and retain these individuals. With this presents the challenge to incorporate culturally diverse employees into a centralised, global HR system that includes all, regardless of location.

The talented employees in the emerging markets are becoming more in demand, and as a result, the employees are becoming more demanding themselves. They want flexible and part-time working, equal working rights for women, childcare support, maternity and paternity leave, the ability to network and employee friendly benefits; the same as the mature markets.

However, regulatory frameworks and legislation are outdated and they must be modernised to accommodate the lifestyles of today’s workers and the diversity of the workforce so all employees are included.

It is fundamental that HR departments work with the local legislators to lobby for regulation that enables employees in the emerging countries to have similar employment rights as their western counterparts. HR departments also have to strategise to retain these individuals through competitive packages, regardless of their location, while accommodating for local language and cultural requirements so as not to alienate the employees.

Global unity, local extensions

When embarking on a globalisation journey, organisations must take a unified approach to managing human capital and talent to still be able to effectively influence the executives and manage employees. Fragmented HR systems are time-consuming and complex so a centralised solution, which is based on the principle of a ‘one size fits all with localised extensions’ is critical for worldwide HR management, to guarantee performance and retain talent. 

For example, a recent survey conducted by global consulting firm, Towers Watson, found that over 92 per cent of companies with shared HR service centres achieved their goals to increase customer service and productivity. 

Managing a global force - technology

The downside of managing a global workforce is the spiralling cost, especially in relation to handling employee enquiries. To avoid high capital expenditure, organisations must look to implement automated processes through the use of technology for standard daily tasks, to reduce the expense of repetitive administrative activity and to have a transparent overview of what’s going on.

For example, HR departments should introduce HR helpdesks to manage costly but common enquiries and processes, in a more efficient manner, so they can focus on developing strategic initiatives, such as retaining top talent. There can also be helpdesk agents who specialise in liaising with the top performing employees or specific countries, so individuals receive a personalised service to keep them engaged.

What HR departments need to do is customise their applications to accommodate language, cultural and regulatory differences so people receive a standard but localised service.

Not only does an HR helpdesk reduce the costs associated with labour intensive research and responses to common employee issues, it helps HR to be more responsive and effective, which increases employee satisfaction. Likewise, employees have access to everything they need to know at their fingertips.

Streamlining HR process

Centralisation boosts performance, rewards individuals, reduces churn. Centralised HR processes and systems can also help companies to grow as it empowers executives and their management teams to assign co-ordinated business objectives to employees and map these measures against business performance.

This enables employers to understand who the talented individuals are and who is actually contributing to the bottom line. By introducing a centralised and balanced performance management and measurement process, whereby employees are set objectives in line with corporate goals and are developed and rewarded based on measurement, employers will retain a pool of talented employees to enhance business performance.

Using technology, companies can also successfully introduce variable remuneration models that are compliant by breaking down the traditional front and back office silos and bringing together sales, finance and HR data into a seamless application. This will help managers to analyse how employees want to be rewarded and to take action based on informed decisions.

By aligning flexible compensation plans to company culture and operations, and adopting an open approach as to how the process works, companies in return, will gain support for their corporate governance and reward initiatives. This will enable them to retain the employees they want to keep.

Workforce management

HR IT systems arm companies with the tools to plan for the future, beyond the ‘ivory tower’ posts. Talented employees often churn to a competitor as they’ve not been developed or can’t see what their next career move will be within their existing organisation. By adopting a centralised succession planning strategy that accommodates all levels of employees, regardless of location, companies will be able to better manage retention; develop top talent however early on employees are in their career; be agile enough to react to employee churn; and as a business successfully transfer knowledge.

This can be accomplished through the use of automated and integrated real-time applications that can map and match top performing employee profiles and talent pools to current and future job openings.

High employee turnover is a challenge that many HR divisions have to deal with and with the approximate cost of an employee leaving an organisation being more than an employee’s actual remuneration package; it can harm a company’s potential to grow. Firstly, companies should analyse and assess what motivates and de-motivates their employees – be it salary, benefits packages, morale, lack of career development or appraisal structures – and work out how to prevent churn. 

They should then integrate this data, plus other relevant data from a wide array of functions such as finance, HR and sales into a seamless IT system that empowers HR and front-line managers to analyse workforce staffing and productivity. This will help HR to monitor workforce demographics in line with recruitment and retention objectives, analyse the efficiency of the entire recruitment process lifecycle, and better understand the drivers behind employee turnover.

A federalised global force

No doubt, talented employees in the emerging markets will play a critical role in re-building and sustaining the world economy. They have a natural ability to innovate and a will to collaborate, which will help to join up the forces of the west and east to overcome the challenges that the world is facing. A globalised federal business model is the approach that companies need to adopt to survive, achieve and sustain success.

To do this, there has to be an entity that pins the disparate workforce across the globe together, and this has to be in the form of a centralised, electronically based HR system that protects, encourages, develops and grows its employees.