Does Workforce Strategy Apply Globally?

Sept. 1, 2011
Culture and compliance differ across the globe.

The top leaders of your company have created a strategic plan, out of its U.S. headquarters, on how best to manage its global workforce. End of issue, right?

Well, not quite.

"Rolling out U.S. corporate plans to global locations, doesn't always work," explains Dana Shaw, vice president, ManpowerGroup Global MSP Center of Excellence. "Companies get stuck right in their tracks even before they on-board workers since they don't know the legislation requirements of other countries."

A case in point, Shaw explains, is China. If a larger manufacturer finds orders are increasing and they need to find more workers quickly, they turn to subcontracting. The problem, however, is that in China it is illegal to subcontract. Many companies don't know this and it will put their U.S-based company at risk.

Each country has its own set of regulations on a variety of topics such as pay parity, bargaining rights, relocation issues and many more. Jones Day recently published a special report on such issues in Europe.

Given the complicated web of regulations, which change continually, over the past 10 years companies are increasingly looking to outsource this management function. Manpower is one of the larger organizations that are providing these services. They have established a global Center of Excellence whose goal is to bring together global and regional resources to help companies manage their contingent workforce and remain compliant with global standards of Managed Services Provider (MSP).

"In the manufacturing area, each global area deals with these issues from a different perspective. Some are open to handing this function over to outside companies while others are more reluctant to give up control of this function, "says Shaw.

And each industry is at various levels as well. For Manpower's technical clients they have established 42 practices that companies can follow. These were established via ISO standards. One way the Center of Excellence aims to facilitate this process is to create a common platform making it easier to for companies to make the correct decisions.

"In many companies, it's more a matter of thinking globally but acting locally," says Shaw. "The local culture often is responsible for 50% of how things work. Rigor can't ensure success. Companies need to spend time and resources in these areas to figure out what will work best."

Looking toward the future Shaw sees a trend of companies thinking about human resources in a more strategic manner than they might have done in the past.

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