Building and managing an international workforce poses countless challenges and a set of subsequent tradeoffs. The tradeoffs often center on the “either-or” dilemma of addressing the distributed personal and cultural needs of the individuals you want to work with vs. meeting the business requirements of your organization.

You want to be able to identify, engage, hire and mobilize qualified contractors and full-time equivalents across different geographies, time zones and languages. To do this authentically and effectively, you have to localize and personalize the user experience for candidates, recruiters, employees and regional managers. Flexibility and diversity are musts at the individual tool level, so your candidates and working professionals can easily apply to jobs, interact with and assess candidates, get onboarded into team activity, contribute to projects, and develop and reward others in the company.

From an organizational perspective, you want a centralized view of talent acquisition and talent management, including information on people, their skills, rate of pay and performance, all in comparison and compliance with enterprise standards and objectives and with the law. However, this systematic informational capture, analysis and reporting must not compromise the cozy user experience, causing tool adoption and quality of information to suffer. If your people don’t use the tools, you won’t capture the candidate and employee data you need.

Unfortunately, most talent-management suites are built with a rigid cookie-cutter approach. Within enterprise suites, the talent-acquisition features are designed or acquired with an inside-out mindset that lacks serious consideration of disparate user needs, best-in-class functionality or easy incorporation of mix-and-match third-party apps.

As for the other side of this either-or debate, many best-of-breed (BoB) recruitment and talent-management apps, a.k.a. point solutions, require deep integration work in order to adequately share data with other BoB apps and offer management a consolidated view of global performance and talent. The choice comes down to these either/or options:

  • Do you want to force a centralized system on your people that doesn’t meet the requirements of the local business culture?
  • Do you want to manage your talent-acquisition and employee performance-management programs in a distributed way that localizes and personalizes the user experience everywhere, but that fails to consolidate the information into a consistent, efficient reporting process?

Where the Tradeoffs Occur

Let’s start with user experience requirements and tradeoffs, since you can’t centralize the data flow if your candidates, recruiters and employees aren’t using the system. To get them to adopt, you must:

  • Offer a good candidate/user experience. How many of us have “lost our work” at some point while filling in a long online job application form? Job applicants, recruiters, HR managers and employees expect the same assured user experience. But this can spell a lot of work and expense for the multinational employer.
  • Personalize and localize. Effective engagement of candidates and employees means some degree of intelligent customization to tastes, beliefs and wants. From the global enterprise investment perspective, this carries huge potential headaches — such as managing hundreds of thousands of user passwords, creating unwieldy amounts of personalized pages for candidates and employees, and supporting multi-brand, multi-language career pages and employee portals.
  • Welcome new hires with an easy hub for onboarding, learning and development, project collaboration and career navigation. This is just as much a cultural dilemma as it is a technological one. It’s about giving people self-development opportunities to drive their careers.
  • Diversify processes where needed. Make it relevant, fun and familiar for everyone. Too often HR technology or an employer’s own culture forces centralized processes downward and outward. One-size-fits-all processes don’t translate well across the globe, industries or individuals. But the burden on IT, HR and even marketing to get pages translated and local process support integrated can be enormous.

And from a more centralized perspective, a global organization must:

  • Provide management dashboards so HR and supervisors can track progress, make suggestions or take further action. One challenge with these enterprise suite dashboards is they don’t support the full spectrum of channels for two-way dialogue between managers, teams and individuals.
  • Offer a consolidated global view for multinational firm executives. The regional manager should be empowered to share reports with C-level leaders in any language or according to a specific visualization preference. This reporting can enable drill-down into regional results and activities for maximum leadership decision-making agility on talent decisions. But the local reporting must be continuous, timely and accurate.
  • Meet data requirements while ensuring security and privacy. This means being able to host candidate data globally — e.g., in China, Russia, the U.S. and Europe — while providing data security and complying with individual nations’ privacy laws or regional requirements such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Today’s Multinational Talent Management Is Falling Short

Knowing these tradeoffs, however, is of little value if you can’t do something about them. Multinational employers continue to suffer from:

  • Too little CRM functionality. In talent acquisition and management CRM means “candidate relationship management,” and it’s no longer just about hosting an applicant tracking system. Candidates want to feel like they’re more than just a number; if you treat them like a number, why wouldn’t they suspect they’d face similar treatment if they joined your ranks?
  • Inadequate functionality to make recruiters more strategic. One glaring example is the inability to perform bulk CV/resume uploading. There’s still too much manual data entry facing HR organizations, and too many clicks to get to a candidate or internal requirement.
  • Reporting as a separate task outside the talent-management tool. I dream of a tool in which when I complete a task a dialogue box pops up and I fill it in. After I promote my completed step in the workflow, the text in the dialogue box simultaneously sends a report to my manager and or colleagues, and that’s it. Yet spreadsheet-like interfaces continue to be the lingua franca, which is a pity because they require extra work outside the project’s workflow.
  • Mobile UI support continues to be a pitfall for multinationals and talent-management vendors. Mobile application development work is tricky, and hence the mobile user experience suffers.
  • Updates and innovations are too few and far between. Unlike consumer apps, enterprise suite customizations can be slow at a time when HR departments must be agile.
  • Not being hip. Most suite offerings lack extensive integration and deployment of social and consumer-type apps. Video, chat and chatbots are underutilized as tools to engage candidates and employees.
  • “Search and find” nightmares for recruiters. Without “tagging,” which helps recruiters easily categorize and find talent, the people assets in your talent database can get lost in what could have been a promising pipeline or succession plan.
  • Closed architecture. With many suite vendors it’s a case of assembling solutions and then monetizing the suite environment without consideration of the flexibility needed by different people and regions of the globe. This severely diminishes the user experience and hampers BoB partnership opportunities.

Mitigate the Tradeoffs

When navigating the tradeoffs between global objectives and local requirements, multinationals should consider a best-of-both-worlds approach. Evaluate potential global talent-management technology partners for the following characteristics:

  • A localized environment. Candidates can apply in their preferred language and in compliance with local data and privacy regulations. Provide your employees with the same scalable and flexible multilingual and security support in your talent-management system.
  • The ability for candidates to filter and match job openings by brand, region and function. Ensure that your internal employees get similar navigational tools and a secure HR core system in which skill sets and career plans can be visualized as part of talent discussions and decisions.
  • Ease of use for candidates and employees. Ensure the ability to save work and revisit an application later, whether it’s via a laptop computer or mobile device. You don’t want to aggravate someone who could be your next best performer or leader. Nor do you want to burden your HR staff or employees with do-overs.
  • Social and professional network integration. Ask your technology provider about relationships with LinkedIn, Xing and WeChat in China, as well as leading job distribution network partnerships across Europe and North America.
  • Video application capabilities. Video allows recruiters to get a first impression of the person behind a resume. Ask if the vendor’s recording and playback functionality can be integrated into your recruitment process.
  • Single point of access for reporting across regions. Give your C-level executives a full view on global talent. Never again lose track of a local situation or the big picture.
  • A more intelligent and efficient view of talent. Try total workforce acquisition, an optimized volume recruitment process in which freelancers and full-time possibilities can be evaluated side-by-side.
  • Process flexibility. Determine whether process configuration in the tool is easy. A flexible platform makes it simpler to tailor your central management and reporting approach to tie into local requirements.

Lumesse is a sponsor of Unleash London 2018. Join them there to continue the discussion on global talent-management challenges.