Next Concept HR Magazine
Blog Home All Blogs
Next Concept HR Magazine focused on What's Next for what matters most to HR. Insightful and timely, it covers best practice trends and presents new ideas and concepts to keep readers up-to-date with the latest in our field. Voices from our nationwide community contribute to a wide range of topics. Articles include valuable practice resources, news and views to provide training, legal and legislative developments, info on quality service providers, and opportunities to form career-long networks and partnerships.


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: hr  NCHRA  HR Management  Human Resources  leadership  HR Leadership  employee  employee engagement  Employee retention  management  WORKPLACE  company culture  HR West 2017  recruiting  HR West 2018  hiring  HR West 2016  blog  employee wellness  HR Tech  HR West  HR West 2019  Workforce  Engagement  human resources management  culture  effective leadership  HR West Speaker  communication  Karen Rodriguez 

7 Reasons Why it is a Great Time to be in Human Resources!

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, October 7, 2015

By Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consultant 

Human resources as an organizational function and its leaders are receiving heaps of criticism these days. I must say that some of it is justified! Pundits, academics and business executives alike have been criticizing HR for not being business savvy, having poor strategic thinking and analysis skills, not having predictive models, innovation, and even a lack of activeness, agility and competence.

Whoa! Enough already. But there is more….

Perhaps the most strident, recent criticism comes from management guru, Ram Charan (whom I admire), in the July-August, 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review. Ram advocated splitting human resources down the middle, giving the administrative portion to Finance and redefining HR’s focus on developing the talent capabilities of the organization. He also advocated that future Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) should have multi-disciplined business experience and profit and loss experience.

Long-time human resources consultant and University of Michigan academic, David Ulrich, responded to Ram Charan (in the same HBR issue). David wrote that human resources shouldn’t be split (at least not like Ron Charan advocated) because HR is about more than just talent management – it is also about leadership and organizational capability development. David acknowledged some of Ram’s concerns, and he encourages human resources leaders to get out of their comfort zone and use “outside-in” thinking.

The debate continues…

So why is it a great time to be in human resources in the midst of all this criticism? Here are seven reasons.

  1. CEOs want and need a trusted talent management and organizational capability leader at their side. Ram Charan is not the only advocate for CHROs being trusted leaders, at the same level as CFOs. Many CEOs have advocated this, including Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg in How Google Works. As the US and many international economies expand, the need for smart talent management practices will grow!

  2. There’s compelling research on what works and what doesn’t in our profession. We know that comprehensive talent management methodologies work. Consider McKinsey and Company’s research on talent management showing that the companies scoring in the top quintile of McKinsey’s talent management index earned an average of 22% higher returns for shareholders than their industry peers. (The War for Talent, 2001.)

  3. Predictive models. There are awesome predictive models for accelerating hiring, improving selection reliability, leadership, performance management, the success of mergers and acquisitions, and increasing employee engagement, to name a few!

  4. Focus on operational excellence. Many human resources organizations have changed their names to “People Operations” to emphasize their alignment with business strategies and a focus on “HR that works.” (See Work Rules by Lazlo Bock and Retooling HR by John W. Boudreau). These HR organizations focus on flawless execution so that the business has a reliable and dependable partner. They use the best academic research and their own process metrics and analytics to understand what is going on in their workforces. The name change, for me, is not as important as the focus on excellence.

  5. Countless technology platforms targeted for small, medium, and large companies have been developed to improve the management of HR administrative tasks and free up HR leaders to move beyond bureaucracy.

  6. Enabling individuals, teams and organizations to succeed. Nothing is more career satisfying for me than seeing an individual, team, or organization overcome a major obstacle, learn new skills, and find new confidence. That is why many of us chose this wonderful profession. All the criticism in the world doesn’t change that!

  7. Monday is different from Tuesday. Whether coaching, working with executives on strategy execution and accelerating change, designing a new sales incentive plan for a global sales force, working through tax code issues for multi-state income taxes, or dealing with an emotionally charged employee relations issue, you can’t say human resources is boring!

It is a great time to be in human resources!

Demand for our profession will surely grow, but human resources is at a crossroads. That means change. We need to be more business savvy, strategic, analytical, and innovative. We need to use the best research, be active, agile and deliver flawless results!

Victor AssadVictor Assad is a strategic human resources consultant and executive coach who works with key decision makers and human resources leaders on talent management, accelerating change, leadership development, and other strategic initiatives, such as mergers and acquisitions, strategy implementation, and flexible workplace. He will be the presenter for the NCHRA, Sacramento Region event, Win-Win Conversations for Optimal Outcomes: HR Business Leader Series on Thursday, October 8, 2015, 5:30 PM until 7:30 PM at University of the Pacific -- McGeorge School of Law. As of posting time, space is still available (registration is open up until the start of the event). Click here for more information and to reserve your space. The following article was originally posted on Victor's blog in July 2015. 

Tags:  communication  employee  engagement  HR  human resources  management  strategy  talent 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

You’ve got the whole world in your hands…and on your workforce!

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wouldn’t it be nice to handle global HR situations with ease?


Join us for the Global HR Summit this week... 
there's still time to register!


Thursday, September 24th 8am to 4:15pm
Green Space
657 Mission Street, Suite 200
San Francisco

The NCHRA Global HR Summit will offer you the chance to navigate the unfamiliar employment laws and practices associated with managing an international workforce---all must-haves for today's growing global corporate cultures.

8:00-8:30am: Registration and Opening Remarks

8:30-9:30am: Mastering and Managing the Complexity of Global HR with Mike Butler, GPHR, Head of HR Services, Radius Worldwide.

In this first session of the day, you will discover the latest trends in global expansion and operations and get detailed information for anticipating the complexities of global HR. You’ll learn how to avoid the pitfalls and surprises that can trip up global HR teams, as well as how to plan for mandatory and customary benefit costs, termination risks, and ongoing and indirect costs. Lastly, you’ll leave the session able to improve your connections with the Finance team by developing more accurate and comprehensive international HR budgets and plans.


Go to our Global HR Summit page to view the entire agenda and read about the other exceptiional sessions being offered.

Mike Butler wrote an excellent article for the Association for Talent Development - TD Magazine earlier this year. We thought we'd share here, on our blog (see below), to align with our Global HR Summit this week. "...people are a company's most valuable asset is truer than ever when expanding overseas." - Mike Butler

Considerations for a company's international expansion include different methods for finding and developing talent.


Just weeks after opening in April 1992, the $5 billion Euro Disneyland outside of Paris was in trouble. Ten percent of its employees had quit, protesting farmers blocked the entrance with tractors, and critics condemned the pollution of French culture. By August, annual attendance projections were slashed by millions; by 1994 there were rumors of bankruptcy. How could Disney, a hugely successful and highly respected company with a worldwide brand and a record of successful international expansion, find itself in this unenviable position?

Even for the most successful companies, international expansion can be exceedingly difficult. From world-renowned operations such as Disney to fast-growing start-ups like Groupon, the unexpected challenges—and even failures—of expanding overseas often can be attributed to people. When a firm is contemplating expansion, who it hires, how it trains and manages those people, and how effectively it ensures that the culture and competitive advantages that sustain the parent company are translated to a country's specific market and culture are critical determinants of success.

Selecting the right talent

Successful international expansion hinges on having the right talent. Hiring overseas is about more than identifying top performers; it also is about understanding the constraints in attracting and ultimately retaining talent.

There are two primary approaches to staffing an overseas operation: Send existing home-country staff (expats) or recruit talent locally. The right staffing decision will be the product of a set of unique, often complex, and constantly evolving factors specific to the firm in question. These factors include but are not limited to the industry, company size, budget, and the market, labor force, and laws of the target country.

There are several advantages to deploying expats to launch and operate a new overseas office. They are known quantities with track records of performance who already are familiar with the operations, culture, and leadership of the company. However, expats are much more expensive. Including travel, visa, and relocation allowances, expats can cost two to three times more than their home-country salary. Moreover, expats might lack the necessary familiarity with the local market or business culture and, in the long run, can burn out or send signals to local employees that they do not have an opportunity to advance.

Despite their advantages, expats often are the wrong choice. Groupon's expansion to China was unsuccessful largely because the company sent home-office employees to remote parts of China expecting to break into an already competitive market. Without understanding the basis of competition for supplier relationships, how to reach potential customers, or how to train and motivate local sales staffs, the expats were ineffective and the company was dismissed by some as arrogant. Local talent almost certainly would have better served Groupon.

Locals speak the language, understand the nuances of local business practices, and have strong professional and personal networks. They also tend to be significantly cheaper than expats, even in countries that have high labor costs. These advantages likely explain why, according to a 2012 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, 70 percent of U.S. companies with overseas operations planned to hire locals, while only 19 percent were planning to use expats.

Hiring locally does have its limitations, however. Locals are likely unfamiliar with the company and, therefore, may not be able to exactly replicate a company's structure and operations overnight in the way that an expat could.

Finding the right talent in a new country may be more difficult than anticipated. In Euro Disneyland's case, finding top talent for its restaurants proved surprisingly hard considering Paris's celebrated culinary culture. Counting on tapping the local talent market, Disney found that the best chefs were reluctant to consider it as a potential employer both because the park is located well outside of the city and because potential candidates incorrectly assumed they would be limited to flipping burgers.

Disney's purpose-built fine dining restaurants could not overcome the adverse reaction local talent had to its brand. In the end, Disney had to undertake a tricky headhunting exercise across Dutch culinary schools and U.S. hotel chains.

Because a company's prime recruiting tools (brand, professional networks, career opportunities) will be less effective in a new market, often the most efficient way to locate local talent is to retain a local recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) company. Experience suggests that when retaining an RPO in an unfamiliar market, it is preferable to use an ad hoc approach in which the RPO is paid one-third of its fee upfront, one-third upon presentation of a short list of candidates, and the final third when the new hire begins work.

Foreign entity structure considerations

Legal entities are the means by which local authorities recognize taxable presences—or permanent establishments—in their country, and the means by which employers may legally engage employees.

The rights, responsibilities, liabilities, and powers of overseas entities vary from country to country, though they generally adhere to the same general scheme in which representative offices are the lightest touch and local subsidiaries the heaviest. Of course, the company structure ultimately must be dictated by business intent. For example, a company seeking to build stores could not use a representative office. Where there is discretion in entity type, firms would be wise to consider the implications of entity structure on hiring for three primary reasons.

First, the entity type serves as a signaling device whereby a company indicates its commitment to a market and creates a commercial footprint and brand, all of which can assist in the recruiting and retention of employees.

Second, the entity type dictates the speed with which it can be registered and, in turn, staffed. If a local presence is needed immediately—either to conduct pressing business or to secure in-demand talent—a representative or branch office might be best. Companies must be mindful that these entity types carry their own unique risks.

A representative office, for example, typically limits the types of activities an employee may carry out. Employees would not have the authority to enter into contract negotiations on behalf of the parent company and would not be able to work out of a company-rented office or receive any home-office allowances.

HR must be particularly careful when drafting job titles and descriptions for employees who operate under a representative office. An employee title containing the word "sales," for example, may lead local tax authorities to conclude that revenue-generating activities are being carried out, which typically is illegal under a representative office.

Third, in certain countries, the entity structure will affect employee benefits. For example, an entity without the authority to have a bank account might be limited in healthcare coverage programs it can offer to employees.

So, if you hire the most talented salesperson from day one, it may prove a frustrating experience because that person may feel restricted in his activities and underwhelmed by the benefits. The goal is to hire the best talent available, but a balance must be struck between talent and experience, and a willingness to be flexible and act within the constraints of the chosen entity type and the company's own developmental stage.

Establishing onboarding and training overseas

There is far more to hiring local talent than finding the man or woman for the job. It is essential that companies establish robust HR administration and provide effective training and talent management. Questions such as what benefits employees will receive, how they will be onboarded, and how they will be developed are important and worth considering well in advance.

One of most basic elements of any HR program is the provision of employee compensation and benefits. The specific laws and customs that govern compensation and benefits packages often vary significantly, so benchmarking for the target market must take place prior to expansion.

Among the most important factors to consider are what local talent will expect and are entitled to; the local requirements for employment, which in some places are more stringent than in the United States; and the terms of employment and grounds for termination. Address these issues before making offers to avoid confusing new hires, potentially violating local laws, and creating headaches for home-office HR departments.

Keep in mind that just because a benefit is offered in the United States does not mean it is necessary in the target country. Conversely, benefits uncommon at home might be the norm in the target country. Finally, whenever possible it is best to keep the number of benefits-package permutations to a minimum to reduce complexity.

The onboarding and training process also is quite important. It might be tempting to assume that the same regime of courses and the employee handbook that work in the United States will work in the new country. They may work in Canada, say, but in significantly different cultures they likely won't.

When Disney attempted to export its training and culture of customer services in whole to France, the company ran into problems. Cultural differences, discrepancies between corporate and employee expectations, and hectic working conditions led to attrition. According to a report, in the first nine weeks of the park's operation, approximately 1,000 employees quit or were terminated. Some departing employees blamed Disney's lack of understanding of Europeans.

In some cases, laws or cultural norms may dictate country-specific training programs or significant changes to existing curricula. At the least, any instructors sent from the United States must be considerate of local sensibilities.

Preparing expats for success

If your company decides to deploy expats, consider the significant demands of sending home-country employees overseas and preparing them for success. There are four primary issues of concern that merit careful consideration before an employee is sent abroad.

First, what are the immigration requirements of the new country? If an expat fails to comply with local immigration and labor requirements, her employer may be fined or even barred from operating in the country.

Second, not all employees are created equal. It is worth spending time finding the right employee for the new assignment. The employee should have a clear understanding of her assignment and relocation package. To that end, it is best to spell these out in a detailed assignment letter.

Next, proper corporate tax planning and design of the expat's compensation is necessary to ensure optimized taxation strategies for both the company and the employee. For the former, there might be immense complexity in intercompany agreements and entity structure. For the latter, one must be particularly mindful that the expat might be subject to taxes in both the new country and the United States and adjust accordingly.

Finally, offer cultural, language, and technical training to help the expat integrate with local staff, operate in the local business community, and adjust to life overseas. Offering local training sessions to the expat's family also can help with the adjustment and reduce the chances of burnout

Deliberate consideration

Recruiting and retaining the best talent is a key ingredient of a successful international expansion. But, as Disney found out, it is no guarantee.

Today, more than 20 years since its inauspicious opening, Euro Disneyland—since renamed Disneyland Paris—has a host of well-staffed restaurants and nary a tractor in sight, but a strong argument can be made that success remains elusive. Whatever the case, it's clear that the world is smaller than ever and international operations are increasingly important. The axiom that people are a company's most valuable asset is truer than ever when expanding overseas. Deliberate consideration for talent acquisition and management will do as much as anything to bring about success.

About the Author

Mike Butler has more than 20 years of experience working as a European HR executive and consultant working with such companies as British Steel (Corus) and Jones Lang Lasalle. He works for Radius Worldwide advising U.S. companies setting up remote sales/IT teams outside the United States on all aspects of international expansion.This article was originally written by Mike Butler for and published by the Association of Talent Development's TD Magazine.

Remember! You stil have an opportunity to listen to Mike Bulter at NCHRA's Global HR Summit on September 24th in San Francisco. If you have not registered for this very important mini-conference/summit, there is still time.

Tags:  development  expansion  Global  HR  human resources  international  leadership  management  NCHRA  people  Radius Worldwide  recruiting  success  summit  talent  workships 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)