International HR Issues


Multinational companies face human resource issues that derive from the different legal and cultural environments in the areas they serve. Economic global realities and changing demographics also present challenges no matter where a company locates.

Aging Workforce

On one hand, as workers become retirement eligible, companies in industrialized nations are facing loss of experience and corporate memory. On the other hand, many older workers are opting to stay past traditional retirement age, meaning that companies will need to anticipate these workers specific needs, such as training in new technologies, according to the SHRM Foundation Report "What's Next: Future Global PR Trends."

Employee Engagement and Retention

For various reasons, employees across the globe fail to be engaged in their work. This is especially true in Asia and Europe, according to SHRM. Some of this lack of engagement can be attributed to a company's recent history of layoffs; employees value security but the company cannot provide this security, according to the Hiring Site. Competition for younger workers is expected to increase in many regions, particularly China. This, coupled with generational trends of younger workers demonstrating little loyalty to any particular organization, means that companies will need to find creative retention strategies adapted to the individual's preference, the SHRM report shows.


In much of the world, gaps exist between the skills available in the workforce and those the company needs -- for example, senior leadership and corporate strategy skills, and engineering and technical training. School and college quality vary widely across the world and many of the most important skills aren't found even in the best educational systems. Companies will need a multi-pronged strategy: One that partners with schools and colleges to provide needed skills and one that also helps hiring managers to recognize and select workers who may have developed needed skills in nontraditional ways, according to SHRM.

Virtual Management

Current technology allows team members to be located any where in the world and contribute to the team virtually. Managing a cross-border virtual team brings new challenges. Misunderstandings can occur because of cultural differences and the inability to gain clues to meaning from reading someone's face, according to SHRM. Additionally trust and camaraderie may build more slowly among team members who aren't physically close to each other. The definition of whether or not a virtual employee is "always available" also differs by world region, according to the Hiring Site.

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