Benefex has been sharing research into employee recognition for a few years now. You know the drill: 76% of us find peer praise very or extremely motivating; receiving a ‘thank you’ at work doubles our chances of offering help again in future; and there’s a whole host of wellbeing benefits to be had, as well. The business case for recognising our colleagues every day is a compelling one; reward and recognition are cultural necessities at work. But what about your international workforce? How can global reward and recognition actually deliver for your business?
It’s widely acknowledged that diversity is the key to innovation, and a multi-regional workforce will almost certainly deliver better outcomes than a single territory. So, in order to get the most out of a global employee base, let’s first talk about the challenges employers typically face when navigating one:
- Language barriers can cause frustrations between populations. Sometimes the message doesn’t always get across in the right way, which can cause operational and cultural issues.
- A cultural mismatch between regions makes it difficult for HR to please everyone. One territory may value salary first, benefits second and recognition last. Whereas other regions may be more concerned with company values, peer-to-peer connection, and corporate social responsibility.
- While the popularity of remote working has offered increased flexibility and opened more opportunities for employees to work internationally, it can perpetuate a sense of loneliness, and leave you with a disjointed, disconnected workforce. This is exacerbated by working in a different time zone to colleagues, too.
- An inconsistent employee experience between regions is always a concern. Sometimes the experience you try to deliver doesn’t always align with a territory’s culture, or sometimes the practises of your regional teams can stray from your vision. There is a fine line between keeping your brand and experience consistent, and removing all regional identity.
Are any of these issues devastating to a business? Of course not! These are small hurdles that are well worth clearing. Here’s where global reward and recognition can help:
What language barrier?
Receiving praise and rewards for a job well done is appreciated in any language. “Thank you” or “thanks” is the first phrase that travel guides recommend we learn when visiting any country. If your employees are working with colleagues whose first language is different to their own, “hello” and “thank you” have probably already been exchanged in each dialect. Showing appreciation is like maths – it’s the same in any language, and it creates a culture of gratitude, however it is spoken.
While some policies – dress codes, for example – may not be able to transcend cultural barriers, recognition and reward is needed everywhere. But employers need to be sensitive to cultural persuasions. In some places – perhaps where salary is higher – the recognition itself will be the goal, more so than reward. There may be some territories, however, where a monetary or physical reward is the employees’ priority, so tailored messaging comes into play when rolling out any global reward and recognition scheme. What’s most important, though, is not to assume; employers need to listen to their employees and implement an adaptable initiative that caters to these regional idiosyncrasies.
Now, here’s where it gets a little more tricky: bringing together a disparate and disconnected global workforce is a tough, but not impossible, task. Thanks to the internet, the world is getting smaller. Internet access and mobile technology has been a democratising phenomenon, and it’s provided people with new avenues to meet and talk. You can use social media-inspired reward and recognition technology to help employees feel more connected to their colleagues and employer. When employees use a social, mobile platform to connect with each other, it really doesn’t matter where in the world they are; it’s the instantaneous nature of the technology which is the biggest appeal.
Consistent employee experiences
Following on from this, mobile technology and a uniformed social platform within your organisation is what’s going to help you deliver that consistent employee experience. Rewards and recognitions themselves can help break down global barriers, but having a single way to say ‘thank you’ is a unifying measure.
Consistent employer branding
Brand cohesion between regions need not be an issue. If reward and recognition is distributed proportionately – and in the manner that suits your people in those territories – an employee’s relationship with their employer should be equally positive from San Diego to San Marino. Plus, you can leverage your local teams’ input. Having a centralised system or recognition product will smoothly align disparate territories and keep your employer brand coherent, but wider resources like communications and tech support should have a regional influence to make employees feel they are truly identifying with their own reward and recognition.
Personalising beyond territory
Now that we’ve addressed a host of common global challenges, it’s important to note the significance of personalisation on a more individual level. We mentioned before that some territories might generally respond better to rewards, where others would prefer a heartfelt recognition. Either way, within those territories, there will be individual quirks to cater to as well. Some individuals like to have small, frequent rewards to keep them motivated, while some look forward to an annual, grand gesture. So, what can you do? You can find a solution that caters to both.