Four Keys to Building a Global Workforce Management Strategy

By Kristina Lengyel, VP, Global Professional Services, Kronos Incorporated

Kristina Lengyel, VP, Global Professional Services, Kronos Incorporated

Globalization continues to be a significant influence on today’s business environment. Trends such as changing trade barriers, growth in labor migration, ongoing improvements to technology, and the constant pressure to achieve bottom-line results are all pushing many organizations too look outside their borders– and possibly outside of their comfort zone–to expand their operations.

As they do, these organizations are going after a very real—and a very significant—opportunity. According to recent research from Accenture, emerging economies will represent more than half of the global GDT in the next decade, and more than 65 percent by just 2030. In other words, these new markets represent a target-rich environment, and one that most organizations would be wise to pursue.

However, the strategy of “going global” requires much more than merely establishing a new footprint in a foreign country. With globalization comes increased risk and complexity, especially related to workforce management. Why focus on workforce management? Consider that businesses that expand to new geographies must rethink the ways they build and manage a high-performing workforce to span various cultures, regions, and countries. As a result, creating a global workforce management strategy is not just a “nice-to-do” item on a corporate checklist–it is critical to achieving ongoing success.

If you’re considering globalization, the following are four key elements to include when developing a successful global workforce management strategy.

“Global standardizing creates the right foundation for consistent, effective workforce management, while overcoming many common missteps”

#1: Embrace Global Standardization

The concept of standardization is extremely important when it comes to managing a workforce across many different geographies, especially when you think about the many possible challenges in the way. Siloed business processes, disparate systems and platforms, different organization structures, and inconsistent training and communication approaches can all present roadblocks to creating a unified global workforce management program.

Instead, standardizing creates the right foundation for consistent, effective workforce management, while overcoming many common missteps. For example, many companies tend to only focus on a certain region or country, which results in fragmented systems or the potential for redundant operations and resources. As organizations struggle to pay, reward, and develop employees differently, HR may wind up compromising a global strategy instead of enabling it.

#2: Target Process with High Value and High Potential

Key workforce management areas such as time and attendance, scheduling, and analytics can deliver significant benefits when successfully standardized across a global organization. This is especially true for companies that still rely on manual processes and homegrown systems.

For example, organizations can reduce costly payroll errors, mitigate compliance risks, and free their employees from time-consuming administrative work by replacing manual time and attendance methods with automated solutions. In addition to the benefits described above, these workforce management solutions create fair and equitable policies by placing all employees under one consistent set of guidelines.

#3: Build Consensus and Create Consistency

Defining and implementing an enterprise-wide global workforce management system requires careful upfront planning and consensus building between the key stakeholders in the organization—right from the start.

The process begins by assembling the right team and securing buy-in from the highest levels in the organization. Senior leadership, especially those executives in the C-suite, must be on board with the idea of making HR a central component of the global business strategy—not just a back-office activity that takes place after the advance team establishes a new location.

The more stakeholders, the better. Organizations should seek support from IT, operations, business analysts, frontline managers, and anyone else overseeing day-to-day activities at any global location.

#4: Empower the Team and Plan for Change

Once the team is compiled, all subject matter experts must be empowered to make decisions related to standardization, especially those that affect processes, policies, and systems. In addition, team members may be responsible for communicating the ultimate global strategy, which will consist of explaining the importance of standards and detailing how the new workforce management framework will affect each country or region during implementation.

Such a cohesive, collaborative approach helps avoid cultural clashes by seeking upfront agreements on standards and communicating them clearly and consistently on a global basis.

Change management initiatives are critical for preparing and aligning the global organization for successful strategy execution. For example, change management programs are an effective way to take proactive steps to plan for the transition. Not only does this help overcome potential obstacles and “bumps in the road,” but it drives new behaviors, such as how users should perform important tasks using workforce management technology.

Think Globally, Act Locally

The benefits of globalization are many, yet in the rush to achieve all that such a strategy has to offer, many organizations tend to overlook the role of workforce management. By focusing on these key elements of a global workforce management strategy, any organization can drive standardization, reduce risk, and improve visibility to gain a new– and sustainable–global competitive advantage.

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