This article was updated on July 17, 2018.
As firms expand into countries around the world, more and more are deciding that they need to create an overarching, global human resources strategy. This is because HR leaders must adhere to local laws but still meet the needs of regional staff all while maintaining an across-the-board strategy. According to Deloitte, global talent management is the second most urgent trend for large businesses. Firms have to develop an integrated global HR operating model that can be customized locally.
Issues at Play
With good systems and access to data, it should be possible to plan and execute a global benefits strategy that meets all objectives. But there are still certain questions that are subjective and create ethical, and sometimes legal, challenges. For example, what are the considerations of offering a longer maternity leave than what the law requires in the U.S. because the firm's European offices set a more generous precedent?
Or, how do businesses proceed when the government provides latitude in public holidays? For example, in Singapore there are 11 public holidays created by the government through consultation with different religious leaders. However, it's also legal for a business there to provide a day off in place of a pre-selected holiday. In this case, there must be a strategy in place to ensure the decisions individual businesses make are fair, providing equal holidays for the four main cultures of Singapore.
Here are a few ways to adroitly navigate these challenges.
Conduct an Audit
To understand considerations by market, conduct an audit. Your legal team and your local team on the ground should prepare a briefing of the relevant issues. Whether it's concern about certain holidays and the cultural impact, or ensuring that you're in compliance with legal matters, a cogent strategy starts by understanding your obligations by market. This team should be constantly watching for new legislation that could change target goals.
Use a Centralized Data Hub
Global benefits strategy decisions can only be made when finance and HR have access to information. Find the right tools and systems to pool data that provide you with access to the cost, utilization and specifics of benefits programs. Insights at this level are essential for making decisions about general business policy, while delivering the best possible experience at the individual and regional level.
Audit Policies Across Markets
HR leaders should invest in the resources needed to regularly audit benefits in each country. This involves making sure they are in compliance with local regulations and expectations, are competitive in the market and align with the organization's core policies. If there are disparities, HR should quickly work to figure out how and when should they be addressed.
Create Risk Management Strategies
One of the biggest hazards HR leaders face is managing the risk associated with global strategies. Enterprises should have legal and HR advice that function as a repository of knowledge and can address issues, provide advice on mitigating risk and develop risk management strategies that guide benefits across regions as the business rolls out to new markets. Doing so can avoid legal challenges, fines and more.
Establishing a global human resources strategy can help an organization streamline administration, control costs and ensure benefits parity. The reality is that there's often the need to make local accommodations. The right planning and advice can help HR leaders craft a strategy that fulfills business obligations but still positions them to use benefits as a key lever for attracting top talent around the world.