Many companies, when they describe themselves as “global”, mean they have operations in countries around the world, that their professionals work virtually and across time zones, and that their employee development includes stints in other markets. We believe that to vie for talent in this increasingly competitive market, companies are best-served by a much more comprehensive approach.
For example, at Reckitt Benckiser, the lion’s share of our managers haven’t held jobs in their companies of origin for years and view themselves as global citizens rather than citizens of any given nation. Our operations span 60 countries and our top 400 managers represent 53 different nationalities. Building this culture of global mobility was no small task – we spent 10 years engineering it – because at the end of the day, we believe this model is one of the best ways to generate new ideas and cultivate global entrepreneurs.
To facilitate this global mobility, international standardization across an organization is key. Compensation rules should apply equally to all managers in all markets. Employment contracts should be uniform, and salary ranges should be developed with global benchmarking. Pensions, medical plans, cash bonus structures and long-term incentive plans should be the same for every employee in every geography. Standard protocols should be built-in, to make it easier for people with families to move. I’ve ensured my company can instantly accomplish a transfer – we avoid having to negotiate reams of convoluted contractual jargon. We have moved people to new countries in as little as two days.
All these steps taken for managers should absolutely be applied to graduates as well, with the goal of attracting the sharpest, most globally focused young talent out there. Companies should help foreign applicants get work permits in the countries where they’ve been studying. The mere fact that these students have traveled to study indicates their international-mindedness and is a signal that they’d be keen to work in other countries as well. At many large multinational companies, it’s assumed that employees, having had a chance to “see the world”, will eventually return to their home countries, settle in, and only then truly roll up their sleeves and proceed with their career path. I believe a smarter approach is to allow employees to focus on the best possible job for them, regardless of country.
This model is not for everyone, and some might find it a tough pill to swallow. However, I would venture to say that companies that apply an intense focus on true globalization and fostering an organization without borders, will be best-positioned in the eyes of an increasingly young and adventurous workforce. ______________________
Rob de Groot is the Executive Vice President of North America, Australia & New Zealand for Reckitt Benckiser.