The Steps to Successful Global Workforce Planning

Posted on 6 July 2023 by IRIS FMP

In today’s interconnected world, businesses are expanding across borders and seeking new markets and opportunities. With globalization comes the need for successful workforce planning.

Effectively managing a diverse team spread across different countries, cultures, and time zones requires careful consideration and a detailed strategic approach. In this blog, we will explore the key components of successful international workforce planning and highlight the benefits it brings to organizations.

What is successful workforce planning?

Successful workforce planning is the process of analyzing, forecasting, and delivering on workforce supply and demand to identify areas of weakness and also for potential future growth. This will ensure businesses have the right people with the appropriate skills to fulfil their global objectives so they can navigate their way through the complexities of international expansion, support cultural differences, adapt to local practices, and embrace diversity.

Workforce planning is crucial for success in international markets for any business expanding on a global scale.

By understanding the unique challenges and opportunities that come with managing a global team, businesses can unlock the full potential of their international workforce.

What does successful international workforce planning involve?

In order to deliver a comprehensive global employee retention cycle, from hiring to retiring, across multiple borders, you need a successful workforce planning strategy. Workforce planning on an international scale ensures businesses hire the right people for delivering a global expansion strategy. This means recruiting the best talent available at the relevant time to avoid the possibility of expensive overstaffing and understaffing issues both now and in the future.

Businesses with too many staff will be saddled with high payroll costs that hurt productivity and revenue. Alternatively, too few staff may cause problems with meeting production deadlines and filling orders, leading to a decline in sales and revenue as well as potential damage to an organization’s global reputation.

What are the steps to successful global workforce planning?

1. Understanding international cultural diversity

A fundamental aspect of international workforce planning is acknowledging and embracing cultural diversity. Many countries have their unique values, languages, customs, and work practices which should be incorporated into any business strategy.

By understanding these cultural nuances, organizations can create a more inclusive and collaborative environment for employees from all ethnic and religious groups. Businesses may also consider conducting cultural training programs and promoting cross-cultural awareness among all workers to help bridge gaps and foster better communication on a global level.

2. Localized recruitment

Any business conducting global expansion into new territories should recruit the right talent with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their tasks efficiently. While some positions may require a global perspective, hiring local talent provides expanding businesses with invaluable insights and an understanding of local markets.

Organizations may establish strong partnerships with local recruitment agencies, leverage online platforms, and invest in branding and marketing teams to attract and retain top talent in each region. However, others prefer to outsource their global recruitment to experts who can identify, source, and hire the best employees in foreign territories.

3. Clear global communication channels

Communication plays a vital role in international workforce planning. Implementing effective communication channels, such as video conferencing, collaboration tools, and project management software, will provide seamless interaction among team members wherever in the world they work.

Regularly scheduled virtual meetings and clear communication guidelines will help businesses maintain alignment among international employees. This ensures a global workforce stays connected despite geographical barriers, multiple time zones, and asynchronous schedules where employees clock in and clock out at different times of the day. This can be highly beneficial to multinational companies whose teams are scattered across the globe and aren’t online simultaneously as it allows them to respond to messages, requests, and prompts at a time that suits them.

4. Flexible global work policies

Flexibility is a major factor when managing a successful international workforce. Workers often log on and log off during the daytime which means organizations should consider adapting working policies to accommodate various time zones and support work-life balance preferences.

Offering flexible work hours, remote work options, and time-off policies aligned with local practices and customs can enhance employee satisfaction and improve productivity. It also demonstrates the organization’s commitment to supporting the diverse needs of its global staff.

5. Knowledge sharing and training

Successful international workforce planning involves promoting knowledge sharing and continuous learning for all. Encouraging employees to share their expertise, best practices, and insights across borders fosters a culture of innovation and togetherness.

Businesses may consider introducing mentorship programs, organizing virtual training sessions, and utilizing online learning platforms so that vital information and skills are effectively spread across their global teams and reach key departments that need them most.

6. International compliance with local regulations

Any business that operates across multiple borders and in different countries will have to navigate its way through various complex legal and regulatory frameworks. There could be language barriers and different currencies to consider, and compliance with local legislation is a top priority.

Successful international workforce planning must ensure compliance with local labor laws, tax regulations, immigration requirements, and employment contracts. Staying on top of so many complex requirements can be daunting, so many businesses partner with global HR and legal experts to mitigate risk and stay updated on local regulations.

When businesses don’t demonstrate strict compliance, they could be under serious threat of fines and tax penalties, costly lawsuits, reputational damage, devaluation of the company and its stock, and even the closure of overseas offices.

7. Embrace global diversity and inclusion

A diverse and inclusive global workforce can fuel innovation, creativity, and better decision-making. Successful international workforce planning involves actively promoting diversity and inclusion practices, so the needs of every employee are addressed.

Taking this approach could mean establishing diversity goals for workers, fostering an inclusive work environment, and addressing unconscious biases around race, gender, and religion, for example. Celebrating cultural festivals, organizing diversity training programs, and forming employee resource groups can further enhance diversity across a global team.

Why is global workforce planning important?

Organizations need global workforce planning to effectively manage their international teams, align with strategic goals, optimize costs, attract and retain talent, adapt to change, and mitigate risks in areas such as employment law and payroll compliance. It provides a structured approach so that businesses expanding into new territories are equipped with robust and compliant recruitment policies so they can be competitive and achieve long-term success.

Successful global workforce planning helps businesses in several ways:

1. Meet global business objectives

Aligning HR teams with goals and objectives is vital to a successful global workforce planning process. By forecasting workforce requirements and identifying skill gaps, international businesses can properly address resource shortages and ensure operational efficiency.

2. Cost optimization

Businesses can optimize costs related to human resources through global workforce planning. For example, accurately predicting future workforce needs will avoid unnecessary hiring or overstaffing and avoid excessive labor costs.

3. Global talent acquisition and retention

Businesses must identify the skill areas they need to address and key positions they must fill when expanding on a global level or into foreign countries. This can be achieved with thorough global workforce planning involving targeted recruitment strategies, such as attracting diverse talent and specialized professionals to gain a competitive edge.

4. Global succession planning

Workforce planning, whether on a global or local level, facilitates succession planning so a smooth transition of key roles and responsibilities can be achieved. This allows businesses to groom future leaders and reduce the impact of talent gaps caused by retirements, promotions, or unexpected departures. In turn, this ensures disruption is kept to a minimum, and worldwide operations continue to run smoothly and successfully.

5. Adaptation to global change

In today’s dynamic international business environment, organizations must be agile and adaptable. Global workforce planning helps businesses anticipate and respond to changes in local and international markets, industries, or regulatory landscapes, and align their workforce with emerging trends, technologies, and evolving customer demands.

6. Employee engagement and activity

Effective global workforce planning enables employees in any country to feel their skills and aspirations are valued so they are more likely to be motivated and committed to their work. Workforce planning can address factors like worldwide workload distribution, career development opportunities, and work-life balance to create a positive working environment across all international borders.

7. Global risk management

Organizations can mitigate risks associated with talent shortages, skill gaps, or sudden changes in the business landscape with successful global workforce planning. Early identification of these risks will give organizations time to develop contingency plans, upskill employees, and diversify their worldwide talent pool.

Do you need global workforce planning support? We’re here to help

IRIS FMP supports businesses with workforce planning in 135 countries. From international payroll to recruitment, and HR, we have everything covered. Contact us today.