Managing a global workforce isn’t easy. In a business with geographically dispersed staff, HR practitioners have to cope with the challenges of managing people consistently against a backdrop of different languages, different currencies and different working patterns – not to mention employment law that varies widely from country to country.
So why is it that when it comes to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of HR practices, so many small and mid-sized international organisations are making do with a patchwork of local HR solutions, using Excel spreadsheets to fill the gaps and bring the information together?
It is not an approach that’s good for the business – or indeed for the line managers and HR people who have to deal with people management processes on a daily basis. It’s disjointed, inconsistent, inaccurate – and hard work trying to keep on top of everything.
Part of the problem is that senior managers’ perception of HR software is still routed in the past, when global HR software solutions were expensive to buy, and even more expensive and time-consuming to implement.
Thankfully, advances in HR software have now made global solutions available to pretty much any international business. Cezanne HR’s global HRIS, for example, costs just a few pounds per employees per month. The system is also purposely designed to be quick to implement. Companies can be up and running, and supporting a global workforce in just weeks or months, with no need for expensive setup services or specialist skills.
So, with budget and resourcing objections out of the way, what are the key benefits of having a global HR system?
A significant saving in time and energy
Fragmented approaches to managing HR data and HR processes have a hidden cost. Every time data has to be double entered or a manual process has to be used because different systems don’t talk to each other, time is wasted for the HR or line managers involved. Then there’s the frustration caused when it becomes apparent that information is incorrect, or when inconsistencies across systems come to light. No-one really knows which is the latest version of anything or whether the data they are dealing with can be trusted. Global HR systems like Cezanne HR eradicate both the unnecessary admin and the pain. Companies can create separate portals for different groups of employees, and set up the relevant rules, permissions and processes for the country in question. The system can cope with multiple languages, different currencies and will automatically adjust and recalculate to take account of variations in everything from public holiday dates to working hours. Best of all, the different parts of the system all talk to each other, giving the business a helicopter view and the ability to think global, act local.
Better data to support business decisions
Global HR software solutions provide one central source of the ‘truth’ and give organisations the ability to easily pull off and analyse the information they need to support strategic business decisions. At a time when businesses are increasingly looking to HR to support their growth and become more agile, this is invaluable. The system can provide an overview, for example, of the skills available in the organisation, where they sit and where the gaps are. Data on headcount, employee turnover and the salary bill is easily accessible, allowing the business to make quick and informed decisions about recruitment, succession planning or even which countries might be most suitable to lead on a new project or initiative. Information gleaned from performance reviews and held centrally can also provide a valuable insight into which members of staff might have the aspiration, as well as the skills, to relocate to another part of the business.
More engaged and connected employees
Many global HR systems come with functionality that allows employees to connect and collaborate across geographical and departmental boundaries. They make it easy for people to find the information they need and to get quick answers to questions. Best of all, they break down internal silos, allowing staff to identify who in the business might help them move a project forward, what their reporting line is and where they can find them. It leads to a more networked, collaborative workforce which better reflects the way we now more easily share information and make connections with people in our lives outside of work. The self-service functionality that comes with most global HR systems also makes it make easier for employees to manage the minutia of their daily working lives. With a Cloud-based system, they can log in from wherever they are to update their personal data, book annual leave, record sickness or check on the detail of an HR policy. This kind of anytime, anywhere access leads to a much more streamlined operation – and is something employees, especially the ‘digital natives’ of Generation Y, have come to expect. They feel involved, can see the business is trying to make it easy for them to manage themselves and are typically more engaged as a result.