Cultural Considerations & Recommendations for a Global CW Implementation

In today’s market, geographic borders are no longer a barrier. We’re part of a global network, and for many organizations, international growth is not a strategic desire but an absolute imperative towards diversifying risk and income streams. However, when laying out the roadmap to grow internationally, many companies struggle with “how” as it relates to talent.

As firms assess organizational readiness for globally expanding their contingent workforce programs, they must consider challenges including local legislation, time zones, languages, currencies, and cultural nuances. This last one – culture – is often overlooked but critical to success. For example, when implementing an MSP program in Australia with hiring managers based in the UK, the vendor management system (VMS) project managers in the United States, and the skilled talent based in India, cultural alignment becomes especially relevant.

Based on my experience in guiding clients toward executing successful global CW program implementations, I’ve developed a list of considerations and recommendations.

Suppliers & Localization

An MSP, unless it has a direct sourcing model, has a multitude of suppliers providing contingent talent. In the US, suppliers work as strategic partners and negotiations are often based on the supplier’s capability to deliver to client needs. In Asia, suppliers tend to be more passive partners, unfortunately often overpromising and under delivering (at least in my experience). In Europe, many suppliers tend to be niche players with strong focus areas and usually have a client relationship that goes back to the dark ages, hence making negotiations tricky. Additionally, compliance can be challenging and issues can lead to increased time-to-hire, diminished candidate experience, or operational risk. Research has found that even high-performing companies are not as effective as local companies in forging relationships, implementing ideas and solutions, or encouraging innovation. Also, it’s becoming more difficult for employers to source and engage the right talent, especially on a global scale, and in an interconnected economy this means that talent pools are becoming hyper-local.

Recommendation: Have a localization strategy where you’re engaging local suppliers and culturally aligning to your target market.

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Communication & Time Travel

Communication is a vital component of any implementation, but effective communication varies from one culture to another. In the US, the communication style is low-context (simple explicit messages), whereas in many Asian cultures, communication is high-context (implicit and heavily context-reliant). Also, I have found that there is a ‘linear-time’ relationship in the US and the UK, where people, in general, make the effort to be on time for meetings. In some countries (e.g., Italy and France) being a few minutes late is perfectly acceptable, while in other geographies (e.g., India, Middle East, Africa, and South America), time can have a different type of elasticity altogether.

Recommendation: Consider all the stakeholders involved and adapt style.

Global expansion of a CW program requires the coordination of a multitude of stakeholders.

Technology

Today’s complex workforce landscape necessitates technology for strategically planning and managing your contingent workforce. However, not every solution will be able to grow with you internationally. For example, when implementing a program in Europe, you need to check if your VMS partner is GDPR-compliant. Leveraging an MSP that has a robust and expansive data-driven technology ecosystem to select from enables you to utilize technology efficiently. For instance, McKinsey projects online talent platforms will result in a 9% increase in output and a 7% cost reduction for the professional services industry, so having an MSP partner with deep relationships and experience utilizing this tech is a value-add.

Recommendation: Incorporate the entire talent supply chain (talent suppliers, MSPs, technology providers) into the project and operational plan as they add an additional layer of complexity.

Find the right MSP partner

The right MSP partner can help you navigate the cultural considerations involved in implementing a global CW program. When evaluating providers, consider:

  • Process. Do they have a holistic consultative approach towards implementation?
  • People. Is the team experienced with successful implementations in targeted geographies?
  • Technology. Are they leveraging a portfolio of technology partners to provide innovative customized solutions?

A global CW implementation is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but a journey with many factors to consider. Reimagining your business model by embracing a borderless workforce, while challenging, can be rewarding with an endless source of surprises, learning, and innovation.

Sameer Srivastava

Sameer Srivastava
Sameer is the VP of business strategy at Workspend, a managed service provider (MSP). He is a contingent workforce management expert, with over 12 years of experience in designing, implementing and managing multiple MSP programs.

Sameer Srivastava

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