Human resources managers face a number of common challenges, including legal requirements, diversity and employee motivation. When you throw "international" into the mix, as is the case with a global company, the issues escalate. HR managers must coordinate human resource strategy, systems and processes consistently and effectively across national borders.
Distance is one of the greatest international human resources issues. Building a cohesive company culture and providing consistent policies and training around the world is difficult. You may have variable talent pools in different countries for certain positions, which can lead to major talent gaps in different office or business locations. Additionally, your company often must provide infrastructure and technology tools for colleagues to communicate from global locations. In marketing, for instance, colleagues around the world must collaborate on goals, strategies and tactics.
Organizational culture is the intangible atmosphere that develops in a business from shared norms and values. HR professionals often assume primary responsibility for helping build an effective, positive and cohesive culture. When you have employees in countries and from backgrounds with different cultural perspectives and rituals, this is especially difficult. You don't have the ability to bring employees together for company retreats or events in a central location. Instead, you have to focus on core values such as innovation or elite service and try to instill them in each market.
Managing HR globally is more expensive than doing so locally. It takes much more research and development to put together policies that are fair and consistent across the board, addressing different laws and standards in local markets. Travel costs to send employees to different locations or for training are also typically higher. The technology, including computer systems, virtual team software and other hardware and software programs is expensive as well.
Employee laws vary significantly around the world. The United States is generally a pro-employee society. Several laws, including Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination Act protect employees in hiring, promotion and management. Depending on where you operate, HR professionals may deal with more protective laws or often less employee-friendly laws. Wages are notoriously low in some Asian markets. Maintaining a consistent standard company-wide but abiding by each country's laws and regulations is a major undertaking.