Global to local: HR efficiency levers in international companies

June 19, 2020

The challenges of sizing the HR function in a decentralized context

During the Covid-19 crisis, many companies faced with a drop in activity, short-time working, stoppages for childcare or suspicions of contamination encountered unprecedented staffing problems with concrete consequences for consumers such as the accumulation of late deliveries.

Even today, most companies still lack visibility on the state of the post-crisis market, but are busy managing its consequences as well as organizing the recovery. In some sectors, such as animal health, the crisis seems more likely to come than go. Indeed, pet owners will consume significantly less for their animals in the coming months. In other sectors, such as clothing, the closure of almost all stores around the world has brought business to a standstill. However, the period of containment has encouraged online commerce by doubling or tripling sales, and the gradual reopening has led to the expansion of distribution and the return to work of workshops. Stores are now gradually reopening, but many salespeople are still on short-time work and there is some tension in companies, as the people with the lowest pay are often those who have taken the greatest risks to maintain production at the height of the crisis. Is this divide likely to widen in the coming weeks?

The social tensions observed in companies during the crisis are due to the fact that some employees had to travel to the site to continue production, thus exposing them to health risks, while most managers were teleworking. In order to solve this problem, management has implemented several actions:

  • Work on the conditions for returning to work to reassure employees about the effectiveness of preventive measures
  • increasing their communications by opening internal social networks or by organizing YouTube lives during which employees were invited to express themselves live
  • Introduce bonuses for the lowest salaries
  • opening a solidarity fund to help those employees most affected by the crisis. This initiative was more than well received

The quality of leadership and management, reflected in particular by the strong presence of leaders in the field with their teams, has also helped to contain the risk of social crisis. However, there is a real difficulty in creating a common culture when the company is made up of a multitude of small entities scattered in different countries. In order to remedy this problem, companies are setting up internal social networks that are automatically translated into all languages and organising meetings of employees and managers from all cultures to synthesise the practices and values they hold without imposing them unilaterally. The establishment of a shared culture is of paramount importance, as it allows everyone to benefit from greater autonomy and be more effective in decision-making.

The levers to gain in performance and agility

The need to create a common culture becomes even more important after the unprecedented situation of confinement that France has just gone through. Creating a corporate identity by defining values for each project seems to be one of the indispensable actions to gain in performance and agility.

Launching satisfaction surveys is an interesting method to gather employee opinions on various subjects. Then, the compilation of this data in a common work allows to reflect and open different ways of improvement. Interviews with managers and employees can also identify new and interesting values to be highlighted.

Transversal work on each family of professions in order to define their missions, the skills required and the training needed to acquire them can also contribute to improving HR processes. Indeed, this work makes it possible to clarify expectations in all business lines and gives employees visibility on the elements on which they are evaluated.

At the same time, some companies also set up training or individual coaching for managers to establish a common language and help them improve their managerial posture. At the same time, some of them are working on values that will be digitally adapted so that they can be shared on their social networks.

The health crisis has reinforced the need for digital links by putting people at the heart of all corporate concerns. As a result, companies must have tools that allow them to collect information and listen to their employees through interviews. Communities of ambassadors can also be set up to facilitate communication and to raise the expectations of teams.

The standardisation of best practices and the implementation of an information management tool seem all the more necessary for companies that own many establishments and that are increasing the number of acquisitions.