Building a global HR policy framework

These incredients make for a robust global HR framework.

Globalized hiring can be a boon for companies, allowing them to onboard the best and brightest talent from all over the world. With that in mind, when you're sourcing workers from Brazil to Belgium and beyond, there are unique considerations to keep in mind. Managing human resources on such a vast scale presents unique challenges.

A clear, cohesive, and comprehensive HR policy framework can ensure transparency, safeguard equity, and promote flexibility. People Ops leaders and legal teams, especially those working for globalized technology companies, need to be able to rely on a robust policy framework to guide their HR strategies.

But just what should you include in a global HR policy framework? The guide below covers some of the most important elements.

What is a policy framework for global HR?

A global HR policy framework covers all guidelines, rules, and procedures needed to govern the various aspects of the entire employee lifecycle, from hiring to benefits management to employee exits. This document needs to be clear and precise while still having enough flexibility to be applicable across different countries and cultures.

Creating this policy framework ensures compliance with local legislation and regulations. Every country has its own labor laws and other rules governing employer-employee relationships. You don't want to run afoul of these guidelines, or you could face fines, lawsuits, or even criminal charges.

A comprehensive global HR policy framework also promotes consistency, fairness, and effective communication within the organization. Making this framework available to all workers at all levels guarantees transparency and reduces the risk of unfair treatment. 

Elements to include in a global HR policy framework 

Alignment with local laws and regulations

Different countries have different laws governing everything from mandatory time off to minimum wage, parental leave, sick leave, social security benefits, and more. It's important that HR policies take into account the unique legal landscape of every country in which the company operates.

For example, parental leave varies from nation to nation. In Greece, women get 43 weeks of paid maternity leave, whereas it’s 39 weeks in the United Kingdom and 28 weeks in the Czech Republic.

Note that such rules can change. After drafting an initial HR policy framework, it's important to update it as needed. Companies can stay on top of the latest changes by working with an employer of record (EOR). Alternatively, legal teams can do their own research on legislation or hire consulting firms for the task.

Core values and company culture

A comprehensive HR policy goes well beyond legal regulations alone. It can also set the tone for the company culture by outlining its core values, vision, and mission statement. At the same time, it's important that the company culture respects local customs, values, and traditions.

For example, companies generally value clear communication—but what qualifies as "clear" may depend on where you are in the world. The directness of an American workplace culture may be deemed rude in some countries, like Japan, for instance.

Global HR policies should set the tone, but they don't need to be set in stone. When necessary, find ways to adapt the company's values, vision, and mission as needed. Toward this end, it can be helpful to hire local managers who are familiar with the customs and linguistic nuances of the countries you're hiring in.

Flexibility and adaptability

A global HR policy framework should be comprehensive and clear. However, it also needs to be flexible, as it’ll need to be adapted to various countries and their regulations, and to customs around the world. When implementing policies, it's important to consider cultural norms and localized business practices.

For example, working hours vary around the world, meaning everyone has a different expectation of what’s normal or outlined in a labor code. Many Western countries have a five-day workweek that runs from Monday to Friday. However, in some Middle Eastern countries, the standard workweek has traditionally been Sunday to Thursday, with Friday and Saturday designated as the weekend. Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates, only recently adapted its standard working week to Monday to Friday.

It's important to be aware of these kinds of cultural differences and to be able to adapt HR policies as needed. Hiring local managers who have knowledge of local customs can be one solution.

Effective communication and training

A global HR policy won't do any good if it isn't properly communicated to managers and employees. Come up with a plan for communicating HR policies and provide the training needed to ensure that they're appropriately implemented.

Take something as simple as linguistic differences, for example. If you're operating in many countries globally, odds are you're dealing with people who speak many diverse languages. You may want to get your HR policy translated into local languages to ensure comprehension.

Cross-cultural training is another consideration. Holding workshops—even online, via Zoom—to introduce diverse team members and improve cultural sensitivity is a first step. There are professionals who specialize in providing cultural sensitivity training to companies.

Technology and automation

Creating an HR policy framework is only the first step. It's also important to oversee policies and make sure they're being implemented properly. The good news is that there's technology to help.

HR software solutions can help centralize your policies, serving as an easy point of reference and providing automatic updates to all relevant parties as needed. Technology can also help streamline and simplify HR processes, such as pay and benefits management.

Oyster is one example of a software solution that can make global HR management easier. Oyster helps companies manage pay and benefits in more than 180 countries, assisting with everything from hiring to compliance.

Compliance and risk mitigation

A global HR policy framework is like a guideline for your company's people management. However, a guideline alone isn't enough. You have to make sure that the framework itself is being implemented. Regular audits can help assess policy compliance and identify potential hurdles to compliance.

For instance, think about whether workers are classified as independent contractors versus full-time employees. If a worker is misclassified, it can mean huge fines—as seen recently with Nike in the U.S., U.K., Netherlands, and Belgium.

Employee feedback surveys and 360 reviews for management are one way to run audits. It's also possible to hire external auditors to make sure your organization is in line not only with its internal HR policies, but also with relevant laws. This can help minimize legal and regulatory risks of non-compliance.

The importance of a global HR policy framework

Tech companies with a global footprint need a comprehensive framework for global HR—not only to remain compliant with local laws, but also to promote equity internally. A well-structured framework can ensure transparency and consistency within the company, creating a happier, more harmonious workforce.

Taking care of your employees gets even easier with the right technology, like Oyster. Oyster's streamlined system helps companies manage payroll and benefits in more than 180 countries worldwide. Discover Oyster's global employment platform today.

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