Global HR: What Matters to Teams in North America vs. Europe?

More than ever before in history, we live in an age where companies are just as critically rated as their employees. But there is a reason many of these types of services are based in the United States. Simply put, culture and management matter a great deal to Americans on the search for a job, whereas their European counterparts have slightly different interests in mind.

One approach to determining the values of employees in various locations is to look into the terms they use to search for employment. In the United States, an overwhelming majority of queries in search engines in the HR and human capital management (HCM) landscapes focus on culture and what it’s like to work at a specific organization. The most searched terms include “management” (both learning and talent), “talent” and “culture”. On the other hand, European searchers—notably from Germany, the UK and France—focus on specific “HR” and “LMS” companies or programs.

Culture and Benefits

There is one compelling reason why Americans pay special attention to an organization’s culture, more so than Europeans.

When Netflix announced a fully paid parental leave at a minimum of 12 weeks (and up to 12 months), it made a splash in the news. For most countries in Europe, however, these benefits are mandated by the government and are considered a given. All EU countries must offer a minimum of 14 weeks’ maternity leave (paid or unpaid). Finland goes further, offering 45 days for new fathers.

For holidays, the EU mandates a 4 week minimum for its members, whereas the United States offers no such obligations. In fact, the United States is the only advanced economy that does not have mandated vacation time for its workers. So when prospective talent in the country search for company culture, benefits like paid time off come into play.

Management Style

Even with the absence of government benefits, there’s another notable difference between America and Europe. While searches in the United States focus on the people who work on the management team itself, Europeans tend to look into specific HR programs.

In general terms, individual leadership is a key factor in the management of a team in the United States, whereas European countries tend to practice a more balanced management style, focusing on the whole team rather than the individual. The former is more prone to risk but also greater rewards, while the latter is more stable, but perhaps sees less opportunities. This trend goes hand-in-hand with the EU policies that promote a healthier work-life balance among its workers.

Localization

Lastly, localization matters more in Europe. Given the wide array of language needs, management must solidify training for its employees through an LMS (learning management system) so that they can operate effectively in the multilingual markets.

For example, a business in Switzerland by default already needs to communicate in French and German, the country’s two biggest languages. Additionally, they will likely need to have the international language of English, and Italian, the nation’s next biggest official language. That’s four languages just to operate in their own country. If they want to expand elsewhere in Europe, additional training will be required.

This is in contrast to North America, where the lingua franca is overwhelmingly English. Extra efforts at multilingualism tend to be made only when companies want to branch out into international markets. This focus on a single language can be detrimental to the organization.

Whether your organization would benefit more from improved English skills or a greater variety of European languages, Speexx offers language training courses tailored to the needs of your company.

Key Takeaway

The fundamental difference between Europe and North America lies in the focus of the respective regions. For employees, benefits like paid vacation and parental leave are crucial for those in the United States. There is also a greater focus on individual managers and how they operate within the company culture. By contrast, due to government policies, European talent can worry less about benefits like vacation time in general (though it does vary by country), and instead focus on effective training on the job.

A solution that meets the needs of both markets and provides an advantage when hiring is offering language training. In the European market, it is seen as useful professional job training. And in North America, it takes the form of an added perk. A well-developed language training program is an effective way to attract top talent in any market.

Photo: Artens / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author:

Mehdi is MD for USA & Global Alliances at Speexx, the world’s leading online language training provider. With over 20 years’ experience in the learning industry, Mehdi has successfully implemented learning and talent management strategies for various industries, including content providers and LMS platform specialists. Mehdi assists global organizations in meeting the challenges linked to cultural diversity, improving communications within global operations and developing learning programs to enhance workforce mobility. Follow Mehdi on Twitter.