How to manage staff overseas

Until recently, the furthest you had to 'reach out' to employees was Milton Keynes. But now your company has got people in a dozen countries. So how do you manage them? Here's a Crash Course.

by Alexander Garrett

Start with strategy. 'If you've outsourced or acquired businesses, it is probably linked to your overall strategy,' says Laura Hinton, who leads PWC's HR management practice. That leads you to a people strategy, and in turn to an HR function strategy with some overarching principles, she says. 'That should pull together all the populations you have around the world.'

Cut your cloth. 'Every market is different and if any business says it will stick rigidly to the same compensation and benefits everywhere, it will come unstuck,' says Teresa Lamy, group head of HR at global business adviser TMF Group. The cost of living varies significantly, as do pay and benefit expectations. 'Make sure you base your decisions on real market differences,' says Hinton. 'You can still be consistent with principles, such as paying top quartile in each country.'

Employ local. It's common to put expats in place in a new country, but you should install locals as soon as possible. 'Expats are expensive,' points out Lamy. 'A local hiring often understands the lie of the land much better.'

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