5 challenges of international HR (and how to overcome them)

What global HR leaders need to know.

Hand touching virtual globe

As an HR professional for an international business, you understand the challenges associated with managing employees located all over the globe. 

Fortunately, there are no international HR challenges that can’t be overcome. Even the most advanced roadblocks have a solution—you simply need to know where to look. 

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While you’re sure to face a variety of challenges, here are five of the most common:

1. Compliance with local laws

Take for example an international company headquartered in the United States. It is already difficult to hire and manage employees on a state-by-state basis. Additionally, you also have to consider HR laws associated with other countries in which your employees work. 

Neglecting to do so can result in a variety of issues, ranging from penalties and fines to workers who are not paying enough in local taxes. 

Solution: consult with an international HR services company, such as Oyster, that works with local experts to ensure compliance with employment laws in foreign countries. 

2. Offering local benefits packages

You want every employee to have the same benefits package. This holds true no matter if they’re in your “home” country or on the other side of the world.  

The challenge with this is that benefits “here” may not be the same as benefits “there.” This includes everything from medical insurance to disability insurance to retirement plans. 

Solution: Oyster offers localized benefits to employees, so no matter where your workforce is located, everyone can gain access to the same level of benefits. 

3. Paying employees in their own currency

There are different exchange rates associated with each country’s currency. This can make paying employees in their own currency—and ensuring that they get paid in full—a challenge. 

Your goal is to pay employees in their local currency, and the only way to do this easily is with a dedicated software solution. 

Solution: Oyster allows you to pay employees in their local currency without incurring an additional fee. This makes it much easier to hire and manage employees from different parts of the world. 

4. Providing the right amount of leave

Everybody deserves to take time away when they need it. The problem that international companies face is that paid time off (PTO) laws vary from one country to the next. If you attempt to hold everyone to the same standard, you’re likely to infringe on another person’s legal right to a set level of benefits. 

Solution: a PTO system, like the one offered by Oyster, accounts for PTO rules and regulations in other countries. You no longer have to manually calculate and manage this part of your business. 

5. Time zones

You can’t be in every time zone at the same time. The same holds true for your employees. Time zones can present a logistical nightmare for an HR department, as well as every other department within a company.

For instance, if you’re in the United States and you need to provide HR-related information to employees in Australia, the time difference can make it almost impossible to do in real-time. 

The best solution is asynchronous work. Here’s how we define this in a recent blog post:

Asynchronous communication, by contrast, does not occur in real-time or require simultaneous presence. It does not assume immediate uptake by the recipient(s) or expect an immediate response. For instance, you might send an email to your teammates, and they’ll read and respond at different times, depending on when they’re working and what time zone they’re in. Similarly, you could record a video to explain how something works, or report progress on a Slack channel, and so on, instead of scheduling a real-time meeting. These are all examples of asynchronous practices.

When real-time communication is not possible, asynchronous communication should be your main focus. 

Experiment and tweak

You won’t always implement the right solution the first time around. It may take some experimentation and testing to determine what’s best for your HR department, employees, and company as a whole.

Track the results of each solution, tweak it accordingly, and reassess as necessary. Don’t stop until you have an answer for every challenge. 

Final thoughts

International HR issues exist, and they’re not going to disappear in the future. Don’t let them get you down. Identify them, compare potential tools and solutions, and take action at the appropriate time. Soon enough, you’ll have a system in place for seamlessly overcoming any challenge that stands in your way. 

About Oyster 

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop and take care of a thriving global workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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