Coronavirus (COVID-19), HR Management & Compliance

Why HR Needs a Global Mind-Set Post-COVID

Where in the world are your employees located? Do you know where they have been or where they need to be?

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made painfully clear the problems with the way many companies have been operating. One area for improvement: global talent management.

Put simply, how equipped are companies to handle the health and safety of their employees when dispersed all over the world? How well can companies manage hiring and relocating employees all over the world when the world is shut down? And how ready are companies for the compliance implications that come with their teams working from home?

Turns out, in the case of many companies, not that ready. 

For CHROs and HR leaders, the last few months have exposed some holes in their global talent management strategy: limited visibility into where employees are, inconsistent data that create compliance risk, and geographically siloed software that blocks delivery of a global talent strategy. 

In addition, most companies face major barriers to mobility. They spend an enormous amount of time and money just to calculate the cost of moving someone, never mind actually moving the person. Their global talent management strategy suffers as a result. And because COVID-19 has resulted in mass layoffs at many businesses, many talented individuals are on the market waiting for the right company to snatch them up.

As cross-border business activity begins to come back to life, these deficiencies mean HR teams face challenges deploying people rapidly as borders reopen. As a result, many will fail to capitalize on global business opportunities at a time when rapid recovery is essential to survival. 

To thrive, global talent mobility must be a core part of any HR team’s global talent management strategy. Here are the top three mistakes companies make when it comes to global talent mobility and how to fix them:

1. Not understanding how to use data to their advantage. After a decade in the global talent mobility space, we are no longer surprised by how many companies still know very little about the performance of their programs, the relationships between mobility and talent management, and how they compare to their peers.

Digitizing and automating mobility isn’t enough—to create true network effects, companies need to standardize global talent mobility data and processes such that every deployment becomes a rich source of insight for every enterprise on the platform.

For example, if a company has only moved five people from New York to Hong Kong, that’s its benchmark for moving a sixth employee. HR needs to benchmark the cost of moving employees from New York to Hong Kong against hundreds of companies and potentially tens of thousands of relocations. 

2. Not adopting one platform to manage a global mobility strategy. The data required for a truly global talent strategy are fragmented among massive HR platforms, relocation logistics companies (e.g., real estate agents and moving companies), and thousands of companies that practice global mobility using different data standards and processes.

One consequence is that global mobility programs distort what companies know about their own employees—they might have to fire them in one system, hire them in another, and pay their mobility expenses using numerous other systems that can’t share data with each other.

A second consequence is that companies cannot benchmark their mobility programs across policies or against other companies, so they don’t know how their mobility costs and outcomes compare, and they struggle to measure the return on investment (ROI).

3. Not focusing on how to save money. Global mobility can be very expensive, and CFOs will likely be asking for cost-reduction opportunities as the business recovers from COVID slowdowns. But, it’s tough to find those savings opportunities when there’s no way to visualize global data on the economics of mobility, especially when relying heavily on outsourced providers. 

With a comprehensive platform for managing mobility that also integrates with HR, finance, and other technology, companies gain insights to identify money-saving opportunities. The right technology can help reduce administrative overhead and lower mobility expenses, all while justifying the investment in this type of technology through substantial ROI.

If there’s anything COVID-19 has shown us, it is that managing talent today is truly a global endeavor. When the pandemic hit, multinational companies quickly realized they had no way of clicking a button and seeing a single dashboard that gave an accurate representation of their global employee footprint. 

Delivering an increasingly global talent strategy isn’t easy—and knowing where your employees are is just one piece missing in the global talent puzzle. As we look to a future of work where teams rapidly form and reform to complete strategic tasks, business and HR managers need to quickly evaluate scenarios and make decisions about the best way to fill roles in order to have the right person in the right place at the right time.

Steve Black is the Cofounder of Topia, which provides technology for global talent mobility, the HR practice of strategically deploying employees around the world. He recently helped launch Topia One, a cloud-based open platform that provides an integrated data standard across global talent mobility, allowing companies to compare mobility data across industries, job roles, destinations, demographics, and more while still providing the flexibility required by complex mobility programs.