Global Considerations for Human Resource Managers

Introduction

Every organization has a purpose which it holds to operate in the environment – whether to earn profits through selling daily usage products or not earn any profits and do voluntary welfare work. Organizations are made up of many constituents that consist of several departments that are responsible for their respective functions and duties. Some of those departments include Finance, Marketing, Sales, Quality Control, and Accounting departments. But there is another key department which is often the backbone of any organization; and that is HR department or Human Resource department.

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HR department has basically the duty to manage, organize, and take care of the resources or assets that are the company’s employees. The functions of Human Resource include:

  • The recruiting of applicants for job purpose through proper tests, interviews, screening, and selection processes.
  • Orienting and training the employees for the development of their skills and expertise.
  • Designing and implementing management and organizational development programs.
  • Designing appraisal systems for the employees’ performance.
  • Designing and implementing compensation and benefit systems for employees.
  • Acting as an intermediary between the organization and its unions.
  • Designing and implementing the employee health and safety programs along with their communication systems.
  • Providing assistance to employees with personal problems that influence their work performance. (Bratton & Jeffrey, 2001)

Of course, these activities are not done in the same way everywhere and in every organization; there are many alternative strategies and procedures to perform the HR tasks depending on the context of the situation in which the company is working in. Multinational organizations that operate in distinct countries often consist of the workforce that is solely of the host country. This makes the job of the whole organization easy along with the main tasks of Human Resource department who find it easy to interact, interview, recruit, screen, select, and socialize with the applicants and employees. Nevertheless, there are many problems faced in the IHRM (International Human Resource Management) where the HR Managers have to deal with the totally different environment and people to fulfil his tasks and accomplish the stated goals (Noe, Hollenback & Gerhart, 2003). Of course, it is not an easy task for any HR manager to work in a totally different environment; he would have to cross over the hurdles that come in his way. He would have to be consider the global considerations for his duty and must be familiar with them. Some of the global considerations that must be understood and taken care of by International HR Managers are listed below. (BNet, 2009)

  • The basic rules, laws, and regulations of the country
  • The values, norms, and beliefs that people hold
  • The understanding of languages
  • The understanding of attitudes, emotions, and motivation
  • The understanding of better appraisal, reward, and compensation system
  • Relevant information dissemination
  • Emphasis laid on different things or aspects in other countries

The above mentioned points reflect some of the major problems that are faced by the International Human Resource Manager in other countries. These are also the global considerations for these managers to understand them and act accordingly to avoid the unwanted outcomes. The paper would explain and discuss these global considerations; moreover, it would also highlight the discussion with the help of the role of HR managers in such situations.

Discussion

Challenges are everywhere, in every business, in every job – whether locally formed or internationally formed. The job of HR managers is not easy, especially when carried out away from home and in an environment that is not familiar. Let’s move on with our discussion of the global considerations that the HR manager must understand and be familiar with.

The first concern is of basic rules, laws, and regulations of the country in which the organization is operating in. The company when goes global has to face new challenges and new procedures to follow; similarly, the HR department would also have to change the way they do their work and that the HR managers are very much responsible for that. The laws might differ to a great extent when it comes to the functioning of the company, how it interacts with other companies, individuals, unions, suppliers, buyers, government, shareholders, and other interest groups. HR departments must have to deal with the applicants or employees in a way that is in line with the rules and regulations. There are certain rules to follow; for instance, the hiring of applicants with respect to their skills, physical ability, sexual orientation, age, marriage status, educational background, class, or cultural background. Some countries might allow gay or lesbian people to be a part of their organizations; but other countries might not, because in their rules and regulations, it is not allowed to do so. (ITAP, 2009)

IHRM should be in context or inline with the industry, its rules, strategies, functions and operations (Schuler, Budhwar, and Florkowski, 2002). The HR managers, in such cases, would have to be aware of the fundamental laws regarding the recruitment and selection of such people who are welcomed by the law. They must not violate those laws that result in the confrontation by the staff of the company and as well as by other interest groups. In some countries, such violation of the laws can lead to a number of years in jail or even death.

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In a modern work environment, ethics and social responsibility are quickly becoming one of the highly integrated functions of every organization. Organizations now focus much more at giving back into the society than ever before. In these evolving times, it is the role of an efficient HRM to build a socially responsible workforce synchronous with the organizational goals and motives. It is the duty of the Human Resource Management to keep the workforce motivated to participate and be inclined towards corporate social responsibility and ethical habits and practices, both on and outside the workplace (Mathis & Jackson, 2006).

Another consideration is of the common values, beliefs, perceptions, and norms that people hold. Since the countries differ in their culture, language, religion, ethnicity, and other factors; therefore, people have different values and beliefs that they follow. They have different perceptions about different actions and events; hence, they prefer their own style to think about them and act accordingly without any violation of it. Moreover, their religion, culture, and beliefs shape them to follow certain norms and actions that, according to them are beneficial, fruitful, ethical, and correct. (Oracle, 2007)

The values, beliefs, and norms of countries can differ to a great extent; and there is no doubt that those values and norms are reflected over the overall progress, condition, and growth of the country’s economy, its structure, and people’s wellbeing. For instance, some countries might prefer or emphasize on the welfare works by the organizations, and they take active part in helping the poor people, communities, and those living in villages and under poverty level. Whereas, organizations operating in another country might have a different belief or value that is not to go welfare programs; instead go for profit maximization and mass production. Other different norms can vary such as, wearing formal or informal dress in the organizations, talking on phone while working or driving, women working side by side with men, celebrating any event in the company or not, etc.

As companies diversify into different parts of the world, the impact of globalization is very deep on Human Resource Management. Various factors have to be looked after which are of no concern if the company operates in only one region. Management of a multicultural work force is one of the main aspects of globalization. In a multicultural society, take Dubai (UAE) for instance, there are people belonging to practically every part of the world possessing extremely different cultural values, practices and attitudes (Noe, Hollenback & Gerhart, 2003). In such a society where such different people exist, managing the workforce becomes quite difficult, since different cultures have different working habits and patterns and managing all that under one roof can prove to be quite a challenging task. In such a scenario, the role of a good human resource manager is to manage these differences properly and to minimize or prevent conflicts among the workforce maintaining a change-friendly and teamwork-based work environment where everyone works together in one single organizational culture like a family despite their native cultural differences (Mondy, Noe & Premeaux, 2002).

Human Resource managers must also deal with this sensitive issue in order to avoid the mistakes that can lead to confrontation or misconduct by others. They must first be familiar with the general actions that are considered to be appropriate whether they are related to organizational acts or other general daily routine ones. What is considered right and wrong must be known to those managers; moreover, they should design the new policies, plans or packages that are inline with the values, beliefs, and norms of the majority. They must not recruit those applicants who violate the norms, design the training programs that violate the working norms or ethics, or take side of those who are close to him because it might not considered as a good sign.

Language is yet another concern albeit a very basic one. Still there are many managers in the companies of other countries who are not able to speak the host country’s language. It’s really shocking, but there are some cases where translators are hired and work with the assistance of him. Though the managers might work accordingly, but it is not considered as a good sign because if one has to work abroad, then he must know the language that is spoken generally over there by everyone. The international HR managers must consider this issue as a serious one and must not take it lightly; they must be fluent in the language that is spoken in country where they are working in. (Fisher, Schoenfeldt & Shaw, 2005)

Yet another concern lies in varying attitudes, emotions, and motivations of the people in different countries. As we know that due to different cultural values and traditions, people have different perceptions, norms and beliefs. Similarly, those people – due to the same reason – have different attitudes for different things, events, and actions; they have distinct emotions and have their own ways to communicate those emotions along with diverse verbal or emotional cues. For instance, people living in country A might consider rock concerts as good and a have a very fair and pleasant attitude towards it; whereas, people of country B might not because rock concerts are not popular over there or are considered bad. Another example regarding to emotional cues is that, people living in country A have different meaning of the ‘thumbs up action’ and consider its meaning as ‘everything is all right’; whereas, the same thumbs up action might be interpreted in different meanings in different country as ‘calling of name’ because that country’s culture has different meaning of the same cue. (Hofstede, N.D)

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Another concern is of motivation. People are motivated towards work or any other thing by different acts or things. The thing that they value differ from place to place; not everyone in every country is motivated to work better by having good salary; some might prefer raise in salary whereas some prefer job satisfaction, good working conditions, or good social scene at the workplace. (Rees & Edwards, 2009)

Therefore, the Human Resource managers must clarify and learn what emotional cues are right and wrong in the respective countries where they work. They must unsure the proper exhibition of such cues that have the same intended meaning for the other party or employee in the organization; it is because it would avoid that person to get offended, ridiculed, or pissed off. Secondly, managers must understand the common actions and events that are prevalent in the country and the company and are welcomed by the people; moreover, he must consider the likes and dislikes of the employees to keep them motivated and on track. (Schuler, Budhwar & Florkowski, 2002)

Diversity in an organization can be of many types. It can be workforce diversity, target market diversity or workplace diversity, but no matter what type of diversity it is, it is mainly an effect of globalization. The role of an efficient Human Resource Management is to manage these differences in such a way that little or no conflicts arise at the work place and if they do, they are solved peacefully and efficiently in order to prevent any negative effects on the performance of the workforce and in turn, the organization (Mathis & Jackson, 2006). Human Resource management can apply various techniques and strategies to do so, however, it varies from organization to organization and the circumstances and the environment it exists in. (Chan, 2009)

Understanding of correct appraisal, reward, and compensation system is also important for companies working globally. For many organizations, the employees are the main assets. Hiring employees and developing their skills is not enough to keep the organization running; but retaining those employees is an important task. Employees often leave companies due to the issues related to job satisfaction, job conditions, or rewards or salaries. Not everyone is motivated or retained by the higher pays; he might have good job conditions near to him as important for staying at the company. The international HR managers would have to evaluate this mater closely and must understand and diagnose the needs, wants, and desires of their employees, as in, what motivates them, what demotivates them, what is liked and disliked by them, and what is the thing that would keep them motivated and on track towards the great performance (Schuler, Budhwar & Florkowski, 2002). Managers must introduce such reward programs that keep the employees’ spirits and motivation high, and minimize the chance of the worsening of their performance or leaving the company.

As internet is getting more and more synchronized with businesses, and as online networking is becoming an essential aspect of daily life, businesses are switching to online operations either completely of partially (Bratton, Jeffrey, 2001). In such a situation, it is the role of the human resource management to keep the workforce updated and trained with IT education and to attract and maintain a workforce that is proficient in IT. In the global context, human resources are more social online and its best to find and attract quality human resources through online networks. (Chan, 2009)

A worrying factor for most organizations is related to the information dissemination. HR managers often make mistake in disseminating the information that should or should be disseminated. The dissemination of information varies from country to country and organization to organization. The HR managers must take care of the fact that what information they are imparting is correct, relevant, and should or should not be imparted; especially the information related to salary increases, lay offs, and problems faced by the HR department.

Different countries and organizations lay emphasis on different things to a different extent (Schuler & Tarique, 2005). Consider an example, for instance, an organization operating in country A might emphasize on profit maximization and goal achievement no matter how they achieve it; whereas, company operating in country B might emphasize on social benefits such as consumer safety, consumer ease, and other welfare works. Therefore, the respective policies and actions of both the organizations would be different; and of course, the employees would have to obey the commands as per se. Consequently, the HR managers must have to analyze the basic purpose and intention of the company, his own department, and make the decisions accordingly.

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Conclusion

Organizations differ in their vision, purpose, intention, principles, values, and norms to those operating in different areas having unlike characteristics as mentioned. The company is made up of its departments, departments are made up of employees, and those employees are made up of the values, beliefs, perceptions, and norms that they carry with them. So whatever they value and do reflects their cultural background and as well as the organizational values and performance.

Since in this era of globalization where the easy sharing of information has become easier and distances have reduced, many organizations have and are going global to expand their business and earn more profits and market share. But that isn’t easy as it may sound; there are many problems that are associated with going global. We have discussed some of the concerns that the HR managers must be aware of in order to make sensible decisions and not make mistakes that result in unwanted consequences. Some of those concerns include, the different laws and regulations of other countries, different values, beliefs, and norms of people living there, different languages, different attitudes, emotions, and motivations of those people, suitable appraisal and compensation programs, relevant information dissemination, and different emphasis laid on different things by those countries and their organizations.

HR Managers can handle those issues by just having the proper and timely understanding of them; and acting in the way that is market or area friendly. They must get familiar with the above mentioned issues and practise accordingly to reduce the chances of mistakes and avoid the unwanted consequences.

Bibliography

BNet (2009). Global Human Resource Management. McGraw-Hill Companies. Web.

Bratton, J and Jeffrey, G. (2001). Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice. Routledge.

Chan, A. (2009). The Challenges of Human Resource Management. Web.

Fisher, C., Schoenfeldt, L. and Shaw, J. (2005) International Human Resource Management [Internet] Web.

Hofstede, G. Cultural Dimensions (n.d.) [Internet]. Web.

ITAP (2009). Global Human Resources Management and Organizational Development. ITAP International. Web.

Mathis, R. L. and Jackson, J. H. (2006). Human Resource Management. South Western.

Mondy, R. W., Mondy, J. B., and Noe, R. M. (2007). Human Resource Management. Prentice Hall.

Mondy, R. W., Noe, R.M. and Premeaux, S. R. (2002). Human Resource Management. Prentice Hall.

Noe, R. A., Hollenback, J.R. and Gerhart, B. (2003). Fundamentals of Human Resource Management with PowerWeb. McGraw-Hill.

Oracle (2007). Global Deployment of Human Capital Management. Oracle White Paper. Web.

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Schuler, R.S., Budhwar, P. and Florkowski, G. (2002). International Human Resource Management: Review and Critique. International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 41-70, Web.

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