Role of HR Planning in the Global Business Environment

HR planning helps create leadership capable of supervising a culturally diverse workforce.
HR planning helps create leadership capable of supervising a culturally diverse workforce. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Some global businesses have minimal operations outside the home country. Large multinationals tend to have extensive operations and personnel in strategic locations all over the world. Whether it’s a skeleton crew or a full facility, overseas offices need human resource (HR) management. HR planning helps various types of businesses function in the global environment, creating leadership hierarchies capable of supervising a culturally diverse workforce.

Choosing a Country

HR managers aid global business leaders in choosing countries to place new operations bases, such as factories or offices. The home country’s trade agreements and memberships in international trade federations help HR managers choose countries with positive global business track records and humane labor laws. The political and economic climate of the country must be considered along with legal compliance and corporate governance. HR managers must balance the safety of employees with the cultural environment of the potential new host country. Often, overseas operations have lower costs than home country operations, but poor planning leads to loss of employees, legal issues and cultural gaffes that end up costing more than the initial savings.

Dealing with the Cultural Environment

HR managers learn about the culture of the host country and teach employees about the various lifestyle traditions of area. Cultural understanding keeps foreign employees from mistakenly offending natives and aids in communications and marketing. Elements of a country’s cultural environment include language, religion, values, education and social structure. Businesses may find it easier to expand into countries with the same language as the home country, but cultural differences still come into play, regardless of communication similarities.

How Global Planning Differs from Domestic Planning

Global HR planning deals with a large amount of change management, much more than any established domestic business. Relocation, training and orientation are a continual part of operations. HR planning is a large part of change management and related functions. Global HR managers create plans to help employees transition to international offices. These plans may include ways to break communication barriers, cultural briefings and suggestions on how to manage foreign employees.

Global Staffing

Business leaders and HR managers work together to decide how to staff international offices. Most overseas operations include a mix of home base and host company employees, although some companies use only native employees and others might use staff from the home headquarters. Sometimes, a home base HR manager is sent as part of a team to set up and staff a foreign office and will leave once the office becomes established.

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