Global Perspective of Human Resource Management

Executive Summary

Work-life in the global village is presenting myriad challenges to employees due to the increase in globalization and advancements in the information communication technologies. These challenges arise as a result of individual-organization interactions. Balancing these interactions presents a huge task for most multinational corporations. These challenges can be addressed through internal communication, work-life initiatives, and cross-cultural programs.

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Internal communication helps to build understanding and engagement, and subsequently, achieve the key objectives as fast as possible. On the other hand, work-life initiatives are crucial in minimizing workers turnover rate and attracting a new pool of competent workforce. Last but not least, work-life training is effective in building intercultural capabilities, which is very critical for international business.

Introduction

Overview

Globalization has brought about essential improvements in the assorted qualities and intricacy of global business and forms of transnational companies. Employees in multinational corporations face considerable difficulties in adjusting the regularly contending pressures for universal coordination and local responsiveness (Minbaeva 2005). Associated with these advancements and difficulties has been enhancing awareness that the administration of an international workforce, through a universal human resource management (HRM) framework, is a critical aspect of the global business (Minbaeva 2005).

The IHRM framework can be a significant driver in a company’s capacity to draw, maintain and manage talent in a global, aggressive labor markets (Arthur & Cook 2003; Spinks 2005). In this paper, we explore the roles and responsibilities of HRM, with specific emphasis on work-life in the global village. Poelmans (2005) defines work-life activities as those methodologies, approaches, projects and practices started and kept up in work environments to address adaptability, nature of work and life, and work-family tussle.

Spector et al. (2004) contend that effective talent management in the global arena depends on viable HRM frameworks. Harmonizing the frequently competing international and domestic demands offers a considerable test for the HR initiatives as regards work-life management (Rousseau 2006). The study will try to identify some of the challenges facing work-life in the global village through a case study analysis, their causes and suitable ways of tackling them.

Report Purpose

As already been stated, this report aims to explore roles and responsibilities of HRM, with specific emphasis on work-life management from a global perspective. This will be achieved through a case study analysis. The case study aims to identify challenges presented by work-life in the global village, their causes, and possible strategies for tackling the challenges. This will be achieved through the exploration of different HRM theories and concepts and key arguments between theorists and different theoretical positions.

Case Study

Everything used to be simple and straightforward for Dandan Yuwen before the company decided to streamline its operations and systems. Yuwen simply had to report to a superior whom they shared an office. The supervisor spoke Chinese, a language that Yuwen understood very well. In addition, they shared a similar culture, and more significantly, the time zone. After the restructuring process, Yuwen is forced to report in a foreign language to individuals in different jurisdictions across the globe with different culture and time zones.

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This has brought a lot of confusion and inconvenience in Yuwen’s life. Due to differences in time zones, she has to stay in the office until late hours in order to send reports to distant colleagues because she can only do that in the office. The company’s network cannot be accessed anywhere. In addition, the teleconference sessions are normally plagued with time constraints, as well as language and cultural hurdles.

Analysis of Yuwen’s situation based on IHRM Theories

From the case study, it is clear that work-life in the global village is presenting huge challenges for Yuwen. These challenges include issues to do with the time zone variances, time constrictions, language barrier, and cultural difference. From her own experience, we are told that she always look forward to these challenges because they are unavoidable. However, she has never raised these issues with her superiors partly because she is afraid she might lose her job, which she values very much.

This can also be explained from a cultural point of view. Given the fact that Yuwen is from China, a country that is ranked number 80 in terms of Power distance Index (PDI) (Hofstede 2012), there is a high likelihood that she accepts and embraces such inequalities. According to Hofstede (2012), “countries with such PDI often have polarized subordinate-superior relations and there is no resistance against misuse of power by the executive”.

Individuals are not supposed to have ambitions past their hierarchical status. In addition, China is a masculine country where success is highly valued (Hofstede 2012). That is the reason why Yuwen is willing to sacrifice her family and leisure to deliver on her job and impress her superiors. We are told that she stays at the office almost up to mid night to make sure that her distant colleagues get what they need.

This issue of power distance also arises when a European colleague is speaking in an accent that Yuwen does not entirely understand. Yuwen is afraid to seek for clarification because she did not want to appear indecorous. The case study also depicts the level of uncertainty and ambiguity avoidance for Australia, U.S., Europe, Japan, and Thailand. We are told that when the Australian, European and American colleagues were engaged in a debate regarding a risky approach, the Japanese and Thai counterparts were mum. With a score of 21, Australia is considered a normative culture. The Australians have great value for their tradition, a comparatively small inclination for sustainability and emphasizes on attaining rapid outcomes. They have an intermediate score as regards Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) (Hofstede 2012).

Besides Japan, the rest also have an intermediate or even lower score as regards this dimension. This begs the question on why Japanese and Thai colleagues were silent during the discussion. The silence may be attributed to the fact that Thailand is less Masculine society, which means people in that country are not assertive and competitive. On the other hand, Japan is a collectivist society where collective opinion is valued over individual opinion (Hofstede 2012; Steers Sanchez-Runde & Nardon 2010).

From an HR perspective, change in the command system is really proving to be an uphill task for Yuwen. She is now forced to work until late hours so as to submit reports or answer teleconference calls from distant colleagues. The fact that the company’s network cannot be accessed anywhere else except in the office is also proving to be a major challenge. In short, the current conditions that Yuwen is subjected to are against the current concepts of HRM, which emphasizes on Positive Organizational Scholarship, originating from positive psychology (Froman 2010).

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Positive Organizational Scholarship focuses on workers’ positive psychological state and sentiments in the workplace. The positive way of observing change is to acknowledge that while companies need to adjust to the certainty of change, they must also recognise and uphold the established elements of culture that have positive value (Schultz &Hatch 1996; Cabrera, Cabrera & Barajas 2001).

Potential impact of the work-life tension

Organizational tensions have been extensively characterized as a ‘conflict of thoughts or standards or activities and the distress that may emerge as a result. Such strains are considered inevitable, typical and, at times, embraced. From this viewpoint, a comprehension of corporate tension might be utilized to develop insight into hierarchical spectacles and transformation (Chatman & Cha 2003). Tensions in corporate life have been investigated in a number of studies, pinpointing strains at both smaller scale and large scale levels (Minbaeva 2005). In line with these studies, tension usually emerges in organizations’ quest for work-life management initiatives, for instance, those that endeavor to meet both socioeconomic objectives and both international and domestic concerns.

Minbaeva (2005) explains that tensions often arise in organizations as a result of individual-organization interactions, for example, the arrangement of roles and obligations identified with work-life matters in transnational corporations. Grzywacz and Carlson (2007) emphasize on the attainment of role-associated prospects that are arranged and shared between a person’s role-associated obligations at the workplace and with their family. The role-associated obligations are not restricted to family only, but also to oneself, community and other things that are not tied to a household. When these role-associated obligations are not balanced, tension may arise in an organization.

From Yuwen’s perspective, the current changes have prompted her to work extra hours, hence fatigue and stress. Such conditions can be categorized under the two-factor hygiene and motivation theory fronted by Chatman and Cha (2003). According to Chatman and Cha (2003), “some factors, if occurred negatively in the work environment would lead to dissatisfaction”. It is to be noted that hygiene elements do not result in the greater magnitude of motivation, but for them, the discontent would arise. These factors include a change in working environment, change in management and administration policy, job security, and the social relation among others.

The use of foreign language, which she does not understand very well, can affect Yuwen’s morale and self-confidence. Reinforcement theory of motivation explains that employees’ morale directly have an effect on their performance or work. An employee with low self-confidence will lead to negative outcomes whereas an employee with high self-confidence will lead to positive outcomes. For this reason, the management should engage in initiatives that enhance employees’ self-confidence with the aim of generating more positive results (Van de Ven & Poole 1995).

Conclusion

With the increased globalization and advancements in information technologies, work-life in the global village is presenting huge challenges for businesses. These challenges arise as a result of the organizations’ quest for work-life management initiatives, for instance, those that endeavor to meet both socioeconomic objectives and international and domestic concerns. In other words, they arise due to the individual-organization interactions, for example, the arrangement of roles and obligations identified with work-life matters. Balancing the frequently competing international and local demands offers a substantial test for employees.

Recommendation

Most employees in transnational government mainly focus on getting the work done and attainment of organizational goals. Internal communication mechanisms are often ignored like in the case of Yuwen. Internal communication is very critical since it is linked to the company’s foundation and gives it the capacity to function effectively. For this reason, internal communication should always be given the first priority. In addition, it will help to build understanding and engagement, and subsequently, achieve the key objectives as fast as possible.

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Challenges linked to work-life in the global village can also be addressed through work-life initiatives. Associated with the deliberations on the precedence of work-life initiatives is the continuous level headed discussion amongst researchers in a more extensive exploration of HRM with regard to the degree to which HRM operations in transnational companies can or ought to be institutionalized crosswise over global operations or confined to the framework of domestic operations.

Global reasoning does not rule out local focus and it is vital that HR administrators emphasize on recognizing and comprehending strategic policy improvement at the domestic level, as well as within a more extensive context. Even though there is no universal description of work-life initiatives, three essential orders are by and large applied when addressing work-life events, that is, conditional care, family leave, and adaptable timing. Work-life initiatives are crucial in minimizing workers turnover rate and attracting a new pool of competent workforce.

As in the case study, communication issues may emerge from the conspicuous phonetic contrasts, additionally from the frequently less obvious contrasts in social qualities which are regularly unsuspectingly implanted in individuals’ conduct. Being aware of one’s personal values and the effect they have on individual behavior and perception is fundamental for anybody working for a transnational corporation. Cross-cultural training is essential in assisting individuals to comprehend personal values, as well as the values of people from other cultures.

Cross-cultural training can be in the form of instructor-led deliberations, group exercises, and personal assessments. The three are effective in building intercultural capabilities, which is critical for global transactions. The intervention programs are summarized in the action plan which is available in appendix 1.

References

Arthur, M & Cook, A 2003, ‘The relationships between work-family human resource practices and firm profitability: A multitheoretical perspective’, Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, vol.22, pp.219-252.

Cabrera, A, Cabrera, E & Barajas, S 2001, ‘The key role of organisational culture in a multisystem view of technology-driven change’, Academic management review, vol. 21. no.3, pp. 245-261.

Chatman, J & Cha, S E 2003, ‘Leading by Leveraging Culture’, California Management Review, vol. 45, pp. 20–34.

Froman, L 2010, ‘Positive Psychology in the Workplace’, Annual Review of psychology, vol. 17, pp. 59-69.

Grzywacz, JG & Carlson, DS 2007, ‘Conceptualizing work-family balance: Implications for practice and managing’, Advances in Developing Human Resources, vol. 9, no.4, pp.455-471.

Hofstede, G 2012, Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions. Web.

Minbaeva, D B 2005, ‘HRM practices and MNC knowledge transfer’, Personnel Review, vol.34, no.1, pp.125-144.

Poelmans, S AY 2005, Organizational research on work and family: Recommendations for future research, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.

Rousseau, D 2006, ‘Is there such a thing as ‘evidence-based management’? Academy of Management Review, vol.31, pp. 256-269.

Schultz, M &Hatch, M J 1996, ‘Living with Multiple Paradigms: the Case of Paradigm Interplay in Organisational Culture Studies’, Academy of Management Review, vol.21. no.2, pp. 529-557.

Spinks, N 2005, Work-life around the world: Building a global work-life strategy, Work-Life Harmony Enterprises, Toronto, Canada.

Steers, R, Sanchez-Runde, C & Nardon, L 2010, Management Across Cultures: Challenges and Strategies, Cambridge University Press, New York.

Van de Ven, A & Poole, S 1995, ‘Explaining development and change in organisations’, Academy of Management Review, vol. 20. no.3, pp. 510–40.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Action plan

Topic: Global Work-Life Interventions Date Range for this Plan: 2016-2017.

Action Who is in charge? When will it be done by (If ongoing, when did it start?) How can it be monitored? How will we know it is successful? How much will it cost? Did it work? Any ideas for the future
Internal communication Line managers August 2016 Creating a chart to show progress Conduct a survey Nothing Not yet started
Work-life initiatives HR Manager August 2016 Keeping account of the number of complaints and employee turnover rate, and their causes Carrying out a survey Too early to tell Not yet started
Cross-cultural training HR Department October 2016 Performance evaluation Enhanced organizational performance Training carried out through an online resource, for instance, Globe Smart that can cost the company roughly $1500 per day Not yet started
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