How Globalization is Challenging HR

Taking care of talent in a local environment is challenging enough. Once your team broadens its horizons, it can be tough to maintain morale. Here are some smart ways to help your team be successful as it grows.

Invest in a Talent Pool That Can Go Global

One of the main concerns of a diverse, geographically dispersed team is cost. Sending skilled employees overseas can be a complicated process, but with a little bit of thinking outside the box, this challenge can lead to a cost-effective and even innovative solutions.

The Indian consultancy firm Infosys chose graduates from Brazil to be trained in English, at their office in India, because it knew Brazil was one of their biggest markets. By providing a great incentive for these students, they instantly attained access to a group of employees who could directly help them in a specific market. Not only were these trainees familiarized with the company, but their English training gave them a significant boost to their skillset which already included Portuguese. This provided an advantage to both parties.

Anticipate the Need for Localization

Even though English is the default language of communication for many global businesses, the fact remains that there are different local laws to consider. Some countries may require all employee policies to be written in the local language, which means it helps to foster a team that can meet that need through language training.

A business that treats every area the same can not be successful from a global perspective. Each market has its own needs, cultural norms and values. Businesses that recognize this need and adapt accordingly can have huge success around the world:

  • McDonald’s offers local specialties alongside their core menu, such as teriyaki burgers in Japan and more vegetarian options in India (and no beef or pork).
  • Starbucks offers more tea drinks and dim sum options in China, and allows seating arrangements to shift easily to accommodate large groups.
  • Apple may have the same products and branding around the world, but the interface and terminology subtly shifts depending on the country. Especially when it comes to language, their attention to detail is impressive.

If you don’t currently have employees with the language skills your business needs for effective globalization, build those skills through a language training program like Speexx.

Practice Cultural Sensitivity

When you’re managing employees in multiple countries, cultural clashes are inevitable. As Ellen Sheng points out in the Fast Company article, “How To Manage Cultural Differences in Global Teams,” the Western way of jumping straight into business may backfire when working in emerging markets like China or India.

The key to managing a cross-cultural team lies in communication. Research from Harvard Business School showcases the example of an Israeli and Argentinian employee working together effectively through mutual understanding, because they had formerly communicated with each other on a project. Their ability to navigate through their differences not only helped their own project, but also lifted up the team as a whole.

Even though a globalized economy may come with many challenges at first glance, the above examples demonstrate that these challenges can be quickly turned into opportunities that will benefit companies and provide them with competitive advantages.

Looking for more strategies for global HR? Download our whitepaper on setting the agenda for global talent management.

Photo: IR Stone /

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