The world is not every company’s oyster. Building a local presence in an expanding global market requires time and careful planning. It also requires taking your HR strategy to a whole new level.
Although devising that new strategy may be a daunting task, it can be worth the investment. Global expansion opens new markets and reduces dependency on local ones. That can help you find needed talent and better manage sales fluctuations.
If you’ve been thinking about expanding your reach, do your research. Here are five things you need to know before taking your HR global.
1. Recognize That Payroll Is a Whole New Ballgame
Wage regulations and laws regarding benefits, taxes, entitlements, and withholding vary by country. Step one to addressing differences is to leave your U.S.-based payroll system where it belongs. Opt instead for a global payroll solution designed to comply with the laws and practices of whatever country you’re in.
An international payroll provider doesn’t just process paychecks. You should consider such partners a strategic corporate asset. They help hire and pay employees in full compliance with local laws, no matter how foreign they are to you.
Global payroll providers can also act as the employer of record in another country. That saves you from needing to create an entirely new business entity with local legal standing.
You can have a global presence without operating a separate and unique foreign subsidiary. You just need the right payroll partner to help you do it.
2. Decide How You Want People to Work for You
You can find talent in every corner of the world. What you have to decide is whether those individuals will be employees or independent contractors. The answer may not be the same in every country.
Begin with a detailed job description and a vision for the type of person you want to fill it. Then research the local employment marketplace and start checking off boxes.
Independent contractors typically offer specialized expertise, experience, and diverse ideas that could benefit your company. Whether or not you will garner savings on employee benefits and entitlements will depend on the country’s laws.
Hiring your own employees can offer you greater control and better buy-in to company goals and objectives. It might also give you a better foothold in a new market.
Whether you’re drafting a contact for an employee or an independent operator, the rules you’re used to don’t apply. You also face the challenge of verifying references and other pertinent information no matter which route you take.
Partnering with a reputable employer of record in an expansion country is a wise HR move. They should know which boxes to check for employees and for contractors to inform your HR strategy.
3. Onboard Employees on Different Ships
Onboarding is all about getting your employees to become one with your company culture. How you get them there will vary, understandably, based on cultural differences.
Creating any onboarding program begins with asking key questions about when it begins, how long it lasts, and who’s involved. What impression do you want to make on your new talent? What image of the company do you want them to have?
You’ll have to determine what your new hires need to learn. Set learning goals for them and decide how you will measure success.
It’s probably not difficult for company leadership to answer these questions for the domestic workforce. But avoid giving the same responses when creating onboarding programs for employees elsewhere. Their world and yours simply aren’t the same.
If your domestic onboarding effort achieves great results, though, don’t ditch the playbook entirely. Use its orientation procedures, training modules, and learning milestones as a starting point. Then, fill in the details that will make sense to employees in each location.
4. Learn to Speak (More Than) the Language
You can’t learn a new language without knowing something about the culture of the place it’s spoken. Have you ever used an American idiom on a foreign English speaker and been met with a puzzled look? To operate successfully in another country, you really need to, ahem, throw them a bone.
Communication with foreign employees and foreign markets is critical to global success. That requires more than just knowing words, inflections, and grammatical structure. You need to understand the place itself.
A global HR strategy needs a two-pronged approach to culture. First, it has to figure out how to help employees understand the company’s culture. Second, it has to make the company culture make sense to the local culture and comply with its norms.
Countries have unique values, history, and standards regarding speech, gestures, and dress. They also differ in people’s regard for time, deadlines, and the work-play balance. Observing “The Platinum Rule” — treating people as they (not you) want to be treated — may be more critical globally than at home. In business, that requires respecting employees enough to understand their culture.
5. Realize There Is No “I” in Team
There is no “I” in team, even if that “I” is “international.” The pandemic has been a formidable test to companies’ team-building capabilities at home, much less internationally. The key is to avoid making global employees feel like they aren’t invited to the ball with everyone else. After all, diversity is one of the hallmarks of a great team and should be embraced, not excluded.
Companies that have passed the test have figured out the right combination of factors. Those include which technologies to use and the frequency of one-to-one contact, even from a distance. Compensating employees fairly and appropriately for their roles and responsibilities wherever they are is also critical.
An HR strategy to build teams across borders and cultures has always been a challenge. But with some thought and preparation, team-building exercises can be just as effective with global teams as domestic ones. A couple rounds of the life story or birth map game will showcase the team’s diversity while forging interpersonal connections.
A company’s successful global HR strategy may barely resemble its domestic one. Building a global workforce is a challenge not every business can rise to. But those who do their due diligence before expanding beyond familiar borders just might find a pearl.