Culture is an Important Dimension of the Differentiated Employee Experience

Alexandra Levit, People Results
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Last week, SilkRoad presented a webinar, Employee as Consumer: Building a Differentiated Experience Through the Lifecycle, with HR Daily Advisor.  We talked about the consumerization of HR, the creation of a meaningful employee experience throughout the lifecycle, and how design thinking, talent activation, and employer branding play into it.

At the end of the session, Jennifer asked: How do you create an experience that’s meaningful and impactful for different cultures? This is an excellent question, and both global and non-global organizations are becoming more interconnected with every passing year. But according to recent McKinsey research, only half of executives in global companies think they are effective at tailoring candidate and employee communications for different geographies.

The first step, of course, is to recognize that you can’t offer a one-size-fits-all experience to candidates and employees across the globe, even ones who are in the same demographic or perform the same role. You should seek to understand even the most subtle factors that drive engagement and motivation in other cultures. For instance, consulting firm Seven Step used Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory to tease out country-specific essentials. These include:

  • China: This culture views titles within the workplace as extremely important. Given this focus on status, companies should integrate distinctions such as awards and competitive rankings in their experiences. In China, individualism is low and language is viewed as a unifying agent. Flexibility with language translation enhances the experience while positioning the organization as a true member of the community.
  • Central Europe: This culture is more risk-averse and ambiguity is viewed negatively. Job seekers and employees prefer to weigh the facts of an opportunity rather than taking a chance. Experiences in Central Europe should be content heavy, focusing on the explicit details of roles and responsibilities.
  • Latin America: This collectivist culture encourages one to think of the group before himself. Organizations should ensure that experiences incorporate the use of “we” instead of a company name. Also, Latin Americans think of their careers within the context of their industry, not their company. Therefore, experiences should portray how every role is aligns with larger industry goals and achievements.

If you want your experience to be meaningful and relevant, you must plan and execute it glocally (or locally, but with a global tie-in).

Deciding which experiences can be developed by corporate headquarters and customized for local implementation, and which ones should be completely delegated to a local office, is a critical early activity. Sometimes, overall business strategy will mandate that a component be controlled from the center (such as creation of the company’s employee value proposition), while in other cases, regional ownership is better (such as a learning experience that is very culture-specific or requires access to certain technology or social media outlets).

Regardless of your combination, though, glocal employee experiences should be tied together by a multi-regional implementation team that can ensure organization-wide alignment as well as buy-in at the local level.

There’s little doubt that the challenges of creating employee experiences that resonate at both a global and local level are many. For one thing, employer branding is at the heart of every experience, and when segregating by region or country, it’s naturally more complex. That’s why, whenever possible, you should leverage local people analytics and insight to understand the best way to translate your overarching brand and connect emotionally with your staff.

Thanks for the question, Jennifer, and for more background on how to create powerful employee experiences, check out the HR Daily Advisor webinar.

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