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Is Your Workforce Ready for Global Expansion?

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You have to get a lot of ducks in a row when your organization decides to expand globally. Preparing your existing workforce ready for global expansion is one of those ducks.

Many companies decide to open offices or factories abroad specifically because they want to benefit from having access to a larger talent pool. However, the success of opening up a global presence may hinge on how well-prepared your domestic workforce is to operate with their international counterparts.

Start by assessing your current HR opportunities

If you're expanding abroad to fill a skills gap, you've clearly already done a skills assessment. Now it's time to dig a bit deeper into what talent you already have available to go abroad. It makes sense to hire managerial and senior staff local to the new country, in addition to staff and line workers. Having a few experienced managerial and senior in-house people go over to the new facility creates some built-in continuity between your domestic and international operations.

Who the skills and interest to take on an international assignment? Who will absolutely not go abroad? What type of cultural and communication training will you provide those who go abroad? What sort of reintegration process will you set up so being sent abroad is seen as a positive career move? If you are tasked with leading the charge of global expansion, these are just some of the questions you should be asking.

You may also want to identify the key drivers of your domestic employee churn. What are the factors driving your churn that you can control or influence? You don't want to export your current churn challenges to a new country. The major change that global expansion brings is a prime opportunity to address your churn issues.

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Put together an internal communications plan for rolling out global expansion news

Any major organizational change leaves current employees with one major concern: What does this mean for me? Is my job at risk?

How your organization communicates the fact that you’re going global will go a long way to determining how your domestic workforce responds. Rumors and stress fester where there's a lack of information. Officially sharing information on key issues such as how hiring and schedules at facilities abroad will impact domestic hiring and schedules can help minimize that stress.

An important part of your expansion communication plan is how you'll train both home and host country personnel to work with each other. Putting together cross-cultural training programs for current employees designed to help them work smoothly with new employees abroad has two benefits. First, training the employees on the different ways workers at the foreign location may communicate and cultural norms to expect will help the two employee groups work more effectively with each other. On a more esoteric level, providing that training to current employees lets them know they're still important to your company's operations.

It may also be helpful to explain clearly to domestic and foreign workforces how the different facilities fit into the company's broader operations.

Get all departments up to speed on the tools they need to function globally

Your global expansion plan certainly includes bringing on new technology and/or changing how you use current technology.  Where domestic employees' workflow or tools will change, help them make that transition before foreign facilities come on line. This is especially for back-office departments, such as HR and finance, that will see significant expansion to their responsibilities.

Going global requires giving domestic teams due attention

Often, there's so much focus on new facilities and team members, the needs of the domestic workforce can get overlooked. Yet preparing your home country workers for the global expansion is vital. The more smoothly domestic and international teams integrate, the greater chances your global expansion will be successful.

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