There's no denying that the world is becoming increasingly globalized. Companies are expanding to new international markets and hiring an increasingly diverse labor force every day. The impact of globalization on the management of the human resource industry might just be the most challenging aspect of globalization, as HR managers must learn to navigate a complex maze of local and global customs, cultures and laws.
When talking about the implications of globalization on human resource management (HRM), it's important to know exactly what is being discussed. That's why it's important to create a specific globalization in HRM definition. When someone talks about human resources and globalization, they're talking about applying human resource techniques to global business practices. This could mean adding workers from other countries and cultures to a business's main headquarters as well as opening new locations or releasing new products in other countries.
There are a lot of human resource management issues that need to be resolved when it comes to globalization, including complying with local and international laws and balancing local customs with company policy and culture.
The approaching retirement in developed countries of what would be called the "baby-boomer generation" in America as well as a dwindling youth population is causing a skills shortage in many countries, including the U.S. and Japan. Human resource managers are dealing with these problems by adding more women, older workers and persons from other countries to the workforce. This is resulting in both an increase in cultural and demographic diversity in companies.
While diversity can benefit a company in many ways, it's up to human resource workers to ease the diversification of the workplace through both training to help prevent harassment and discrimination against those of different backgrounds and by incorporating company policies to help these employees maximize their productivity. While older employees, for example, have a lot of experience to offer, they are 4.5 times more likely to have disabilities than younger workers, which means they may need specialized equipment, flexible work schedules and less physically demanding work.
Similarly, female employees may need protection from sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. Although more challenging, these kinds of policies should still be implemented in countries without laws or customs prohibiting these problems in order to maintain company policies about sexual harassment and discrimination across its global locations.
Many companies have been known to outsource work to poor countries where employees are willing to work for lower wages due to higher competition and a lower cost of living. Outsourcing is a touchy subject, as it means hiring workers from other countries and taking jobs away from the country where the company is headquartered. The public is a lot more comfortable with outsourcing that incorporates social responsibility rather than simply exploiting workers in poor countries.
This means that when your company hires people in third-world countries to work in manufacturing, customer service or sales positions, these people should be paid a fair wage with at least some basic benefits (sick leave, disability, etc.) and not simply offered the bare minimum wage that these workers are willing to accept. Even if it is not legally required to do so, it is important that the company maintains its integrity and reputation.
Human resource managers need to be intimately familiar with the country's labor laws, but when the company opens a new location in another country, they need to learn that country's laws and customs as well. For example, workers in Indonesia are entitled to the same rights whether they work part time or full time.
Not only do HR employees need to ensure that local workers are trained and treated properly, but they also have to help employees who are moved to a new region to adapt to the social and cultural norms of their new location. It's important to remember that even when local laws fall short of protecting your employees, your corporate policies should protect local employees just as they do for those who have been transferred to new regions.