How to Solve the Complexities of Having a Global Workforce
By Sean Pratt
Jan 24, 2019
As the reach of global organizations extends to new geographies, HR teams are faced with the challenge of hiring and managing a global workforce and also ensuring that talent management programs work together in concert to meet the unique needs of that workforce.
According to Paul Sparrow, Professor of international human resources at Lancaster University Management School, solving the complexities of a global workforce is one of the leading challenges for HR teams today. To Sparrow, “It’s about continuing to build a global mindset and leadership ever more deeply into the organization and creating a much better linkage between international mobility and global talent management functions.” Even for organizations with an established global mobility team, there are some specific actions that can address the challenges of having a global workforce. Data-driven insights in the following areas can help you better manage—and understand—your global workforce:
Sourcing talent from a global talent pool involves a number of challenges, from understanding local labor markets to identifying individuals who possess the desire and ability to relocate regionally or internationally. The good news for companies is that the global workforce is becoming increasingly mobile. A survey of over 13,000 global job seekers found that 64 percent were interested in finding work in another country. However, there still remains a global talent shortage, and most companies will struggle to fill key positions. Mobility teams can add value to global recruiting efforts by offering new insights about the costs of employee mobility by location, job level, and length of assignment. Such data can help recruiting teams better forecast not only the time to fill key global roles, but also the cost.
Diversity and Inclusion
A global workforce is comprised of individuals from a variety of different cultures and geographies. Mobility teams are tasked with ensuring that individuals moving between locations have the resources and knowledge they need to navigate cultural differences and be successful in their new location. In addition, they can also provide data and metrics that help the organization understand workforce demographics such as the percentage of the mobile population that is female, for example. As diversity and inclusion continue to be recognized as an important factor in an organization’s competitive advantage, there will also be a need to learn more about how diversity and mobility decisions interact. Mobility teams can play a valuable role in helping the organization track this information, for example, by providing data that explains the degree to which global mobility has helped to build diverse teams within the organization.
Learning and Development
Successfully running a global business requires individuals who possess a global mindset as well as the knowledge and experience that helps them see the organization and their role through a global lens. An international assignment is a valuable talent development tool that can help any global organization build a workforce skilled at working with a variety of cultures. In fact, in a survey of mobility professionals, building global management experience was named as one of the top reasons for sending employees on international assignments. The mobility team can be a valuable voice in talent management discussions by presenting data that helps the organization understand the impact of international assignments on an employee’s readiness for promotion or movement into a leadership position.
Organizations with a global workforce need to have the capability to deploy the right people to the right roles, no matter where they may be based. Because of the complexity of the global labor market as well as the need to make data-driven and cost-efficient mobility decisions, HR and mobility professionals need to work together to understand the rationale, benefit, and value associated with each and every mobility decision. When that happens, the organization is in a much better position to build a highly-qualified, diverse, and capable global workforce.