Human resources (HR) organizations in multinational financial services organizations must create new mission and mandate beyond standardization and move towards a “glocal,” customized approach.

In my previous blog post, I looked at how globalization is reshaping financial services companies’ talent needs. This time, I’ll consider what this means for the mandate and approach followed by their HR organizations, which in the past galvanized their efforts and technology resources toward standardizing people practices.

In fact, “going global” was often equated with the process of standardization and the creation of a one-size-fits all, uniform work experience. The goal was to achieve a global view of an organization’s people and operate as a unified organization, rather than as a series of fragmented parts based on geography or business units.

Standardized and repeatable HR processes and systems helped companies quickly enter new markets by enabling a standard “plug and play” approach to geographic expansion. But today some of those very same reasons for standardization (e.g., an increasingly globalized and diverse workforce) now demand a new and very different mission and mandate.

The great challenge over the next decades to find ways to capitalize on the growing complexity and diversity of the global workforce. This must be done while leveraging a common platform of information systems and a standardized framework that make employment practices relevant to every employee in a more granular, locally relevant and customized way.

Today’s successful multinational banks and insurers carefully balance the need for global, efficient solutions with the need to be locally responsive and relevant in a “glocal” approach to talent management.

When value is driven by consistency and standardized operations (HR transactions, for example, or training that provides a functional workforce with common skills), a company needs global policies, services and technology platforms. But when value is driven by the needs and variations of specific markets (sourcing talent, for example, or crafting an alluring employee value proposition)—a company needs to be local in its focus.

Financial services companies can achieve this by adopting a customized people management strategy that does not seek to treat a workforce as a single monolithic entity, but rather each individual as a “workforce of one.” Using a workforce of one approach, organizations can still accommodate local needs, but in ways that use centrally defined standards.

Workforce of one approaches to local customization can include:

  • segmenting a workforce and creating a variety of tailored but standardized people practices for different workforce segments
  • creating a pre-defined menu of standard, modular choices from which employees can choose
  • creating a single standard rule so broad and simple that it can flexibly be interpreted in a variety of ways
  • enabling employees to create their own customized people practices using standard technologies or processes
  • My next post will look at how HR organizations in financial services can develop innovative practices in five key areas to cater for a globalized work environment.

Learn more here: Reconfiguring the global talent landscape  

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