The 7 Rules for Selecting Global HR Technology

The globalization of business has opened up new possibilities for today’s talent. This new environment has shifted the traditional notion of work to a place where workers can form bigger, cross-cultural teams and tackle previously unfeasible projects and business challenges.

While this reality is ripe with opportunity, it also creates new challenges for human resources. How do HR leaders, previously concerned with managing and hiring from a population of somewhat centrally located talent, enable organizations to unify employees and attract the best new talent when the potential pool now includes the entire world?

Vital to overcoming these obstacles is technology. HR professionals should aim to have a process in place that helps manage the organization’s culture, values and goals, while at the same time remaining compliant with laws and practices in various countries.

And at the heart of the process is technology — specifically, consumer-designed, intuitive tools available in the cloud and accessible through a gamut of devices.

When selecting the right technology to drive this strategy, HR leaders should take to heart these seven tenets of cultivating high-performing global workplaces.

1. Find, recruit and hire the best talent no matter the location.
According to a 2013 LinkedIn Talent Solutions global recruiting trends survey, social professional networks are now the fastest-growing source of quality hires. Organizations’ internal social networks provide a wealth of information on talent as well. The problem in most cases, however, is that many HR professionals are unable to navigate these dense resources without help from other forms of technology.

Global recruiting technology can provide some relief, and several functions help make them effective.

For one, global recruitment technologies should enable recruiters, employees and candidates to share jobs across hundreds of social networks to maximize global sourcing capabilities. They also should help recruiters find talent within various networks by providing search tools and comprehensive sourcing analytics. The ideal software will track and manage each job opening and hire type across a single platform and reduce administrative costs. It should also protect important agreements like government contracts.

Finally, global recruitment software should streamline the interview process for everyone, giving managers and recruiters tools to organize interviews and evaluate candidates while also tracking progress.

2. Know each employee like he or she works right next to you.
Just as navigating professional social networks is important in recruiting top talent, so, too, is establishing meaningful internal networks. Software can help create engaging employee profiles that include details like employees’ interests, skills and experience. As a result, anyone in the organization is able to view these profiles to get to know different people or employee groups. Such information might be used to source potential collaboration partnerships within the organization.

For HR professionals and managers, these detailed profiles also provide access to metrics indicating employees’ performance versus potential, length of time with the company, location and openness to change. In sum, these profiles enable HR leaders to better define criteria for top performers and help managers assess teams alongside other teams within the company.

Most important, having such information consolidated and organized helps organizations ensure each person uses his or her strengths, thereby minimizing potential flight risk. According to a 2013 Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Saratoga Institute study on human capital, voluntary turnover rates continue to climb, especially among high-performing and high-potential employees. Losing top talent strains operations and recruitment efforts. Therefore, HR technology that helps companies stay abreast of detailed employee information is vital to maintaining engagement and retention of top talent.

3. Empower social collaboration.
HR technology should aim to provide a virtual office environment that’s user-friendly. Access via mobile devices through cloud technology is crucial; if it’s available anytime, anywhere, it can accommodate all schedules, locations and workplace environments.

Necessary elements include:

  • It should feel similar to other robust, popular social networks like Facebook — a network where conversations can take place in real time and incorporate an exchange of documents, links, video and audio.
  • Internal and external groups should be able to collaborate securely on shared documents and projects.
  • The network should integrate business functions as well — from sales and marketing applications to appointment-setting tools, calendars and conference room schedules.
  • “Tribal” information must not be lost. Instead, it needs to be easily accessible to future employees who are trying to solve a similar problem or need that information to complete a task more quickly.
  • Finally, users need to be able to filter the network to make it work best for them. They should receive updates on posts they haven’t yet read, be able to flag critical information and control feeds to information that’s relevant to their jobs.

4. Prioritize great performance.
Performance can be hard to track and measure. But great employee performance is directly related to corporate success. HR technology can help link individual performance to corporate goals — a connection typically missing in today’s business world. As Robert Kaplan and David Norton wrote in their book, “The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment,” just 7 percent of employees fully understand what’s expected of them in achieving broader company goals.

And when employees are able to understand how their performance influences overall company success — or when they are more engaged — operating income and earnings per share increase, according to a 2012 Towers Watson study. Employee engagement and a sense of belonging directly correlate with improved business metrics, the study showed, while disengagement relates directly to slumping company performance.

One way HR technology can help employees connect more with corporate objectives is to make visible what employees have accomplished, how these accomplishments contribute to the companywide goals, and to identify the potential for future alignment and success.

5. Streamline global payroll.
HR professionals face myriad regulations and requirements for operating in today’s global economy, especially when it comes to payroll. Automation can be vital to strategic payroll management, wherever that management takes place.

HR leaders should aim to find technology that provides all information necessary to verify and reconcile payroll. Users need the ability to automate assignment of earnings or deductions to eligible employees; to know all transactions are secure; to have embedded analytics; and to have the flexibility to customize the technology’s components for specific needs. A technology that takes a holistic view in covering all aspects of payroll from standard payments to bonuses, and enables the automation of these functions, is crucial to the department’s functionality.

6. Deliver compensation and rewards equitably and competitively.
While organizations don’t want to risk losing top talent, no business wants an employee who underdelivers. It’s also difficult to manage equitable compensation on a global level as different locations come with different needs. Using data alongside local insights and employing technology to manage these indicators can help keep things fair and manageable while still tying compensation to performance.

Flexibility is also important to effective compensation management. There are different strategies for aligning pay and performance, and certain cases call for providing different weight to various aspects of performance.

Efficient HR technology in this regard allows organizations to change criteria to adjust to different objectives and circumstances while still motivating employees in all locations to perform at the highest levels. Analytics and total compensation views of an employee or group across different locations helps minimize administrative costs and provide competitive and fair salary packages to new employees.

7. Make security and compliance central to HR processes.
HR data is subject to a variety of data privacy and protection rules and regulations. For a global company dealing with international regulations, the process becomes even more complex. It’s important that the vendor providing HR technology also has a global presence and a track record with worldwide implementation. HR professionals need technology services that offer sophisticated deployment options that enable compliance with regulations on the regional, national and global levels.

Incorporating these seven principles into HR strategy will likely help many organizations overcome obstacles to managing the global workplace — and, as a result, help expand business to have a greater global reach.

Furthermore, taking a strategic, global approach to picking HR technology services can provide businesses with a competitive advantage by helping pull in the best talent, increase retention, streamline organizational processes, stimulate productive collaboration and avoid legal snafus.

Zachary Thomas is vice president of HCM product strategy at business technology firm Oracle Corp. He can be reached at