An Essential Guide to Managing Today’s Global Workforce

What is a "Global Workforce"?

The traditional office landscape is far different now than it was 20 years ago. The recent shift towards a more distributed team model has created an international pool of connected workers, or what is known as a global workforce. Many companies are no longer limiting themselves to their local talent pool, but have leveraged the skills offered by remote talent throughout this global network.

Organizations across the world are more agile than ever due to the modern technology available at our fingertips. With more collaboration tools popping up each year, and resources that ease day-to-day pain points, employees are now fully supported to get their work done wherever they please. 

Global workforce management is redefining the way organizations collaborate with their employees. Whether an employee is on-site, or distributed, the focus on continuous communication has helped to build more meaningful professional relationships. Especially through solutions like employee performance software, managers are able to stay better connected with their direct reports.

Statistics on Global Talent Acquisition & Global Workforce Trends

It’s no surprise that the introduction of Millennials and Gen Z employees into the workplace is the primary reason for so many global shifts in trends. Within the last few years, we’ve seen that the millennials’ share of the global workforce has increased dramatically. This generation of modern workers have now taken the spot as the largest living adult generation, and many have already worked their way up into leadership roles. 

Millennials desire more freedom in the workplace than the previous generation of Baby Boomers. Because the global unemployment rate has reached its lowest point in a decade, many employees have the luxury of being selective with their career choices and will often walk away from opportunities that don’t provide flexible benefits. In fact, by 2020, many experts predict that 50 percent of U.S. employees will work remotely. 

Businesses that offer more flexible benefits have a competitive advantage over their competition, as many are slow to adapt to this trend. One study by Upwork discovered that 57 percent of companies still lack some sort of remote policy. This inability to respond to the wants and needs of employees in the face of a shift towards a global workforce can be detrimental to a company’s level of engagement. 

The Gartner’s Global Talent Monitor survey is based on responses from more than 22,000 individuals in 40 countries, and found that globally, those who reported to be engaged in their role increased only slightly from 8.0 percent in 2018, to 8.2 percent in 2019.

So how can leaders and HR departments avoid creating a disengaged culture through global workforce training and development? The top three drivers of burn-out for employees globally shifted slightly for the first time in fourteen consecutive quarters as compensation moved into the top spot, followed by career development opportunities, and lack of people management. This gives us insight into global workforce trends and where to shift our focus to begin tackling these problems.

How Global Expansion for Companies Has Led to Gaps in Performance Management

One of the most common concerns from executives around the world is how to create or maintain strong company cultures. This challenge is even more intensified when the business is globally distributed.

The larger and more spread out your business becomes geographically, the more difficult it can be to maintain a strong, cohesive workplace culture and establish effective global workforce management. But, company culture is created through strong, positive relationships, not simply through a common shared space. Often times, global expansion for companies leads to gaps in their performance management, which in turn can lead to a deeper chasm between those working relationships. 

It’s a common saying that “employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” The opposite is also true. Employees tend to stay longer with their companies when their managers work closely with them. Helping employees to seek out opportunities that play to their strengths allows them to learn and develop at a quicker pace. Career paths aren’t fixed, so instead of focusing on a specific role, help employees grow into their own mastery.

Your organization’s expectations for positive working relationships shouldn’t be spatially-bound.The kind of face-time that’s always been so critical for building camaraderie and trust may become more limited as your global workforce continues to grow, but the cultural values instilled in the company can be shown in more ways than one. 

Why it's Important to Keep Global Teams/Distributed Teams Engaged

Employee engagement is often confused with employee happiness or satisfaction, but engagement is far more complex. Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, and are fully committed and loyal to their organization.

Many don’t feel a strong connection with their own companies or their overarching mission. Most people long to put their time and effort into working towards a greater purpose, and this can often outweigh benefits like higher compensation or a swanky office space. 

The key to a productive environment means different things to different people, especially as the global workforce continues to diversify. For some, working a 9-to-5 in an office environment is incredibly off putting. For these types of people, they find motivation through remaining active instead of staying put. While productivity is ultimately the end goal for many companies, enforcing an inflexible means to that end in an organization’s approach to global workforce management can be detrimental.

Leadership development experts Dr. Brad Shuck and Maryanne Honeycutt-Elliott said it best, “higher levels of engagement comes from employees who work for a compassionate leader—one who is authentic, present, has a sense of dignity, holds others accountable, leads with integrity and shows empathy.”

How 15Five Can Help Bridge These Gaps With Global Workforce Solutions

15Five’s continuous performance software is helping drive the transformation of the global workforce into a more cohesive network of employees and managers at companies. Our solution not only guides employee growth and development, but empowers people to become their best-selves by focusing on the whole employee. 

Without complete and continuous performance software, it can become increasingly difficult to maintain regular structured meetings between managers and employees, which can heavily stifle the growth and development of employees. 

The 15Five platform offers several product features that help guide employees towards greatness and enhance global workforce training and development. One of the most advantageous features for (remote) employees, is the Weekly Check-in. Through strategic Weekly Check-ins, managers can help their employees gain new skills and knowledge through continuous feedback, and even get ahead of potential roadblocks before they happen. 

These check-in times also provide an opportunity for managers to get to know employees on a deeper level. 15Five encourages everyone to begin their meetings by sharing their current state with one another. Asking questions like “How are you doing?” and “How was your weekend?” will break the barriers of an overly-structured and cold working relationship.

To avoid the potential sense of isolation among a global workforce, there are other ways to make people feel like they’re included in the culture and have a presence. 15Five also offers a feature called “High Fives”. These allow employees to hand out recognition in real-time, and gives managers and leaders an easy way to identify those who are going above and beyond each week. Just by @mentioning a person, and giving context into why you chose to appreciate them, the whole organization can have visibility into everyone’s work, including those who are distributed. 

Through the use of performance management software, managers now have regular visibility into what drives their employees, understand the challenges they face, and create opportunities for richer and more authentic employee feedback. This feedback is incredibly important for distributed companies to stay agile and adapt to new industry trends in real time, so they don’t risk falling behind their competitors.

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