Workforce Management: How to Maintain Productivity during Expansion

September 28, 2015

in Plan Your Expansion

Authored by Sophie Dumas

Sponsored by Sage X3

Workforce Management: How to Maintain Productivity during Expansion

For companies expanding stateside, productivity concerns are paramount, especially when factoring in cultural differences, time barriers, and the overall rush of bringing a business to the United States.

These challenges are compounded by the complexities of compliance with an ever-growing array of international labor laws and growing employee expectations in developing economies. Workforce management gives companies visibility into productivity. In addition, by improving productivity, workforce management helps companies grow so they can offer workers the greater opportunities, pay and benefits necessary to retain top talent.

Yet, successfully implementing a UK-US workforce management plan requires companies to understand and manage the unique challenges of operating a now-international workforce, such as:

Cultural Differences

Expectations for roles within the workplace have a significant impact on the success of a workforce management implementation. For example, if a company’s structure is rigidly defined by roles and responsibilities, empowering managers with decision-making authority will deliver fewer benefits than in companies with a more horizontal approach.

Companies must align the tools they provide with their new workforce culture or risk facing employee struggle. Since cultures can vary from one location to the next within the same company, companies must strike the right balance between standardization and localization.

Regulatory Requirements

US regulatory laws vary widely, often state-by-state. Understanding these nuances, and how they can impact staffing, time tracking, as well as auditing and reporting requirements, will reduce compliance exposure. Automating compliance by embedding legal requirements into scheduling and payment processes is the best way for companies to ensure compliance and their ability to readily retrieve audit information.

Considerations When Managing an International Workforce

The success of a UK-US workforce management implementation will depend first and foremost on how well the manufacturer understands their requirements and manages expectations. Before building a workforce management plan, companies need to fully understand federal and state legal and business requirements, as well as the business processes they wish to implement.

The pace of system adoption is likely to differ from one location to the next. For example, companies can’t expect the same results when first expanding to the United States. Therefore, they need to develop change management processes and set realistic expectations both locally and at corporate headquarters for how quickly they can implement workforce management.

Bridge cultures in the workplace

Companies must also be aware of cultural differences that will impact adoption. For example, workers may have some interest in automating data entry, but too much automation may be seen as invasive and evidence of management mistrust.

Non-alignment with the company’s mission and values often results from local management not being able to effectively communicate a strategy and direction. When investing in new hires, emphasize company values and operating practices for the best results.

There’s also a problem when teams don’t effectively communicate their needs and issues upward. Look for key management personnel who have demonstrated an ability to bridge UK and US parties, and who can coach other managers to do the same.

Invest in integration and communication

Two-way information sharing is a must, to ensure that remote teams feel like part of the company and that their views and opinions are being taken into account. But often, international newcomers can be reluctant to reach out, even with the most common forms of internal communication (e.g., email, conferences), which hinders communication within the company.

It could be especially helpful to designate an experienced facilitator to make sure everyone is given an opportunity to contribute.

Build corporate alignment

Early on it is important to decide whether to implement a “one company” model or allow local entities to “tune” operations for local US cultures. Other types of businesses — especially those that have very different target customers and solutions — need not be so concerned. In fact showing a “common face” to multinationals is a tremendous business value, and possibly a competitive advantage.

As companies expand in the global economy, the efficiency of their workforces becomes one of the most important competitive advantages. While managing people is a tremendous challenge for any company, the right communication and processes can simplify an expansion dramatically.

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