HR Insights
Quick Read
December 21, 2023

Navigating your organisation’s unique path to global HR and payroll

Global HR and payroll are becoming more common as workforces become more dispersed. But it's a big challenge without the right resources. Learn what you need.

Table of Contents

In 1945, Baskin Robbins unveiled 31 flavors of ice cream to a world that for generations had only tasted vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Fast forward more than 75 years and this popular brand has more than 1,400 flavors for ice cream lovers to choose from.

The market for global HR and payroll solutions is much the same. There were once only a few options for organisations to choose from when embarking on a global HR and payroll transformation. And conversations about attracting, paying, developing, and retaining global talent were once reserved for only the largest companies.

But as the world of work has evolved in recent years, a multi-country, dispersed workforce has become a norm even among organisations with less than 1,000 employees. And many employees are no longer bound to one location. They are more mobile than ever before. It’s sometimes this mobility of today’s boundless workforce, as employees take advantage of work-from-anywhere programs, that increases the demand for an agile global HR and payroll solution.

And employees are no longer the only game in town. As the definition of “worker” expands to include contingent workers, there is a more complex conversation to be had about the HR systems and processes needed to serve this extended workforce – particularly in a global context.

These factors have bred innovation and more options in global HR and payroll technology. While organisations should embrace this innovation, more options for technology vendors can make it challenging to select the right solution for their workforce. When it is time to explore global HR and payroll solutions, consider these guiding principles:

Learn from others

How do you explore global HR and payroll without throwing the doors wide open to every provider, each with their own menu of solutions? Start by recognizing that your roadmap to global HR and payroll has its own unique starting point and route to get to your destination. But you can still learn a lot from the experiences of others.

Invite stories and gather information from peers to understand what companies that “look like you” have tried or have done. It’s important to note that your organisation is likely to have less in common with companies in your same industry from an HR and payroll operations standpoint than those with a similar number of employees, hourly/salaried mix, unions, and geographic presence.

Build a strong foundation

The foundation for solving this global workforce puzzle begins with a single source of truth. Your global human capital management (HCM) system of record should be the center of all workforce strategies and decisions. This requires adopting a solution that can meet your needs in the countries you are in today and the ones that will be relevant to you in the future.

As you become more global, compliance becomes more complex. And you need a single solution that can help you manage those complexities without breaking a sweat.

Look inward

In life, sometimes the best solutions are the ones we find right under our nose. The search for a global HR and payroll solution can be just as straightforward.

Take a good look at your current HCM technology provider’s newest offerings. The pace of innovation and years of investment from HCM vendors has resulted in tremendous product advances. But if you haven’t been looking at your HR and payroll functions through a global lens, you may not have activated these features or know they exist.

Just be sure that you aren’t sacrificing functionality for convenience. While it may be less taxing in the short-term to stick with your current vendor, if they can’t fully deliver what you need, global HR and payroll will continue to be a lingering headache.

Consider managed services

Managed services give HR and payroll teams a way to consolidate operations quickly by leaning on the provider’s local knowledge and scale in a delivery model that is already established. 

But with so many HCM technologies and services available in the market, HR leaders are not always clear on what managed services they can afford in a global delivery model and where to get the greatest bang for the buck. Compliance-rich activities like payroll should top the list for consideration. This can help you scale your workforce while benefiting from the expertise of your global HR and payroll vendor.

As your organisation embarks on its own unique global HR and payroll journey, it’s also critical to understand what is currently locally “owned” and to engage stakeholders thoughtfully to ensure business case, funding, and support. Each global journey requires its own ingredients, served up with finesse to your organisation’s stakeholders or risk the global scope coming to a screeching halt.

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