The new skill set for multinational employers: Global Fluency

May 18, 2021

A new framework for hiring and managing a global workforce

Does your company have employees in multiple countries? Or are you considering hiring in another country because it has a larger talent pool to choose from, it’s a more cost-effective labor market, or you’re in an expansion phase? 

Whatever your company’s HR predicament, you’re not alone. In today’s disrupted business climate, many companies struggle with the challenges presented by a global and remote-first economy where employers can hire anywhere, and employees can work from anywhere. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic instigated a widespread adoption of remote work, when most of the workforce was established in corporate offices, 77% of HR leaders felt managing a global workforce was daunting, according to our survey of HR and payroll leaders from 200 organizations.

The accelerated transition to a remote-first workplace didn’t eliminate the traditional office construct, rather remote-first provides workers with the ability and support they need to be productive, in a corporate office or a home office – even in another country. 

If organizations expect to compete as multinational employers, they must be ready to rethink their approach to the HR and finance resources, capabilities and technology needed to operate in a global marketplace. A way to achieve that is through Global Fluency.  

Workforce data has become significantly more complex, and if HR and finance want to take advantage of their data, they can’t operate with the same processes they've used for years to hire, manage and pay employees across multiple countries—each of which has its own tax and labor regulations, cultures, languages and currencies.  

Introducing Global Fluency 

When an organization develops Global Fluency, it operates more capably and strategically in three core areas: knowledge, which is data and information; data proficiency, the ability to bring relevant data and information together to make strategic decisions; and agility, the ability to quickly respond to changes in the global market. 

With these three pillars in place, highly fluent multinational enterprises can be more strategic and use data proactively to hire the right talent quickly, efficiently and compliantly, anywhere in the world.

In-country information is vital to building international intelligence 

Knowledge is the foundation of Global Fluency. Having solid knowledge about the local nuances of employing, managing and running a business in different parts of the world is fundamental to thriving globally.

Yet, lack of local knowledge is a common problem for multinationals. According to our survey, nearly 40% report a deficiency of information about what expansion entails as their main impediment to investing in global growth. Without reliable intelligence, emerging multinationals will lack critical knowledge required for hiring international employees or expanding in other countries. As a result, many organizations can’t capitalize on the available workforce talent or entry into new markets. 



Sharpening organizational data proficiency with strategic technology investments 

Country-specific information and market data are essential to have, but knowledge alone won't move the needle for an organization. Leaders must have the proficiency to collect the correct HR data and be able to normalize and manage it so they can use it for analysis that informs strategic decision-making across the organization, regardless of country or region. 

To achieve the level of data proficiency required for true Global Fluency, an organization needs processes and technology that bring data together in a single and consistent view while maintaining the integrity of that data.  

If this seems daunting for an emerging multinational, consider that many large multinationals are not using advanced analytics, despite wide availability in the market. The reality is that all companies, emerging or not, are undergoing a dramatic shift in how they use technology to streamline and improve business processes. That is especially true with workforce management solutions. Within this context, achieving Global Fluency is not about how big the enterprise is but whether the company has made technology investments that give them the strategic insights they need to operate more flexibly as a global employer. 

Putting knowledge and data proficiency to use with heightened agility 

The final piece in Global Fluency is agility, which uses both knowledge and data proficiency to impact the organization, regardless of the market dynamics. Information and data analysis are meaningless if an organization can't successfully apply them. 

When an organization has Global Fluency, not only can it use data to forecast market shifts, industry changes and internal challenges, it’s also agile enough to pivot based on that data. This agility helps an organization mitigate the risk of loss, capitalize on an opportunity, or correct for a change outside their control. 

The key for organizations wanting to become and remain agile is to filter their internal data through the lens of external forces and adapt where needed. An agile organization, informed by data, can proactively hire to support a growing workload, or reduce employee burnout. It could more easily respond to a slowing market or decreased demand, due to political or economic changes, by altering the pace of production or shifting production to another country. Operational and practical agility is the goal of intelligence and data proficiency. And it’s the tangible outcome of Global Fluency. 

Using knowledge, data proficiency, and agility to develop new hiring skills 

HR and finance decision-makers have seen their organizations widen their global presence in the past five years, judging by the results of our HR survey. And those leaders anticipate their organizations will have an even larger global footprint in the decade ahead.  

For those seeking the competitive edge that will help them build and sustain international success as a global employer, Global Fluency is no longer an option—it’s a strategic business requirement. With the right global employment services, an emerging or multinational enterprise can improve their local market intelligence, including tax requirements, labor regulation and even comparative data about labor spend across markets, giving them the knowledgedata proficiency and agility needed for an HR strategy that helps them succeed globally. 

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