By Lakshmi Raman
The global business environment is huge and it intertwines people from different walks of life. Today many institutions rely on staff from multiple nations worldwide which gives them a competitive edge as they can leverage their local expertise and diversity. Although technology has made the world a smaller place to live in, physical separation poses certain challenges and can lead to misunderstandings, and social distance.
Overcoming the HR challenges of a global workforce
One of the key people in any institution is the HR team as they are responsible for bridging the gap between expectations and the reality of staff in the organization. They are responsible for upholding the core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion as these are an integral part of many organizations. Schools having multiple campuses across the globe, and with staff operating from different geographies have to ensure that their teams are well-equipped to handle the challenges of a global workforce.
Creating a successful work culture where team members come from diverse backgrounds and work from different locations is, without doubt, a stiff challenge. Many institutions have a dedicated People and Culture team at each of their campuses that spearhead their efforts to resolve these challenges.
Attracting and Retaining Talent
Steve Jobs has proclaimed that talent is an important aspect for every workforce and advised, “Go after the cream of the cream. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”
Management guru Jim Collins has said, “… the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”
Global business schools are established with an intent to give students opportunities to interact with their diverse staff. One of the challenges that schools face is attracting talented professionals to join and relocate to countries where they have their campuses. Initially, the change in location and the cultural nuances that come with it are not always preferred by individuals who, perhaps, spend their entire career with only one institute. Schools invest a lot of time in scouting for and then evaluating talent that they think can take up the challenge of managing both—diverse students and a diverse workforce.
Another challenge that global schools face is the evaluation of performance. When employees come from different cultures and nationalities, they are used to a certain system that would be prevalent in the organizations they have been exposed to earlier. Hence a well-rounded evaluation of an employee is preferred, which might be sometimes demanding but always helpful. It consists of three factors:
- Targets: Setting targets based on what’s best for the school and allowing individuals the space to do their work and achieve their targets should be the philosophy for global institutions. However, the ‘how’ is equally important and therefore, the targets must be both professional and behavioral as it will give the employees a chance to grow professionally and personally.
- Extra Mile: This is dependent on the initiatives that employees take that go beyond their role. It has been seen that this works very well, and employees are happy to contribute towards a larger goal. These ‘extra mile’ initiatives help them get involved in other aspects of the school which further strengthens their bond within and outside their teams.
- 360-degree Feedback: This ensures institutions have multiple sets of data to evaluate performance. The feedback reveals the abilities and behaviors that are needed in the organization to achieve the mission, vision, and goals, as well as embody the values.
A Sense of Belonging
Although most companies actively seek diverse representation in the workplace, this does not guarantee that all employees will feel included. Creating a sense of belonging — an employee’s idea of acceptance within a group — is a great way for HR professionals to re-energize their inclusion strategy and goals. Lauren Romansky, Managing VP, Gartner says, “Belonging is a key component of inclusion. When employees are truly included, they perceive that the organization cares for them as individuals, their authentic selves. HR can help make that happen.”
Having a global workforce brings in a global mindset, the culture, and practices like Talent Acquisition, R&R, Performance Management System, and Employee Engagement are deeply rooted in harnessing the feeling of being one family. This has helped institutions mitigate quite a few concerns which may exist in a multicultural workforce.
(The author is Vice President (Administration), SP Jain School of Global Management. Views expressed are personal and not necessarily those of Financial Express Online.)