Global Workforce Solutions and Employer Work/Life Support Programs

If your company has employees living and working outside of the US, do you support their work/life needs?  Or is this a "local" decision-making process with little central planning or support?

For many successful organizations in the US, providing some form of work/life supports to employees has been the norm.  In fact, there are several awards designed to showcase particularly successful efforts.  Companies' global workforce solutions might include support for child care or elder care, flexible work arrangements, or resources to promote health and well-being, and they consider these well-valued programs as strategic investments.

Work/Life Programs for Employees Abroad

Developing a comprehensive global work/life strategy can seem daunting because of the complexities of cultural and geographical differences.  Horizons Workforce Consulting┬« has worked with a number of clients that are seeking to create frameworks governing how to invest in work/life support programs for employees across the globe.  This process is perhaps best illustrated by considering the following questions:

We have employees in four different countries.  Where should we start?

There are a number of reasons to address work/life needs of employees globally.  A good first step is to identify the current distribution of employees, the business challenges in locations with the highest concentrations, and the local country environment for working populations.  For example, one client's global workforce population identified the UK and India as representing the majority of employees "outside of the US."  The business challenges in the UK had to do with productivity, while for India, turnover and women's retention posed a threat to meeting the needs of the business.

How do our employees experience work and life in different countries?

Next, review the local environment that influences how employees experience work and life, as well how local factors influence the organization's success.  In the UK, people work long hours and many working in and around London experience significant commutes.  In addition, the cost of living is very high, making short commutes a financial luxury that most can't afford.

In India, the existing infrastructure has not kept up with the fast growth of the economy in many major cities.  Transportation can be very challenging as many roads have no sidewalks, highways have fewer lanes than needed, and mass transportation consists primarily of buses.  Employees working in India need to factor in a commute with other important work/life decisions such as where to live and who can help with family care responsibilities.

Differentiate Your Global Organization, Locally

HR Professionals are critical in helping their organizations maintain an equitable framework for talent management.  By providing the leadership needed for creating global workforce strategies that are targeted to employees outside of the US, HR can help differentiate the company in local markets.  Employees will benefit from work/life supports that meet their local challenges and needs, and employers can efficiently and effectively provide appropriate supports for their global workforce.  

Considering launching an employer-sponsored child care program in India? Download the Child Care in India; Employer Best Practices guide, including: Strategies to Support Professional Women in India and Child Care Quality Indicators

Written by: Andrea Wicks Bowles

About the Author

Andrea Wicks Bowles at Bright Horizons

As Senior Consultant, Director Global Initiatives, Horizons Workforce Consulting, Andrea works with Bright Horizons clients to enhance the effectiveness of their employees and strengthen their position as an employer of choice. Her knowledge of global child care policies, organizational effectiveness, and work/life industry trends combined with analytical skills is used to help clients uncover their unique issues and challenges. Andrea, a frequent speaker at work/life conferences, is a key contributor to Bright Horizons' research investigations.