Your business is growing, and that means expanding your horizons. Perhaps you’ve just acquired your first customer abroad, just opened your first foreign office, or your team has grown to include new employees from different countries.
That’s great news. But global growth is not without its challenges. Different workplace cultures, dispersed productivity, and language mishaps can be stumbling blocks even in the most dynamic international companies.
We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the HR challenges of internationalization — and turn them into durable growth for your business.
Communication beyond boundaries
Multicultural companies used to be the exception. Now they’re becoming the norm. Foreign-born workers make up more than 17 percent of the domestic labor force in the US (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017), and that number is steadily increasing. In European startups, nearly a third of employees are from foreign countries (European Startup Monitor 2015). A typical Fortune 500 company may have employees who speak English, French, Spanish, Polish, Mandarin, and Arabic as their mother tongue.
On the global market, diversity is a strength. But language barriers and cultural differences can lead to frustration and miscommunication, threatening to derail teamwork. Misunderstandings are particularly common in emails and memos, where we can’t rely on nonverbal cues to fill in the gaps.
Zest’s employee engagement solution offers language options and feedback modules to help teams overcome communication hurdles. The solution can be used in 8 different languages, displaying each module in the employee’s preferred option. And feedback help to break down boundaries between cross-territorial teams.
Global lingerie company, Chantelle, adopted Zest in May 2018 and sends out the same poll to 200 corporate employees in French and English. Using Zest’s simple translation option, Chantelle can ensure the poll appears in the right language for each user.
“Communicating with each employee in his or her own language used to be unthinkable. Now it’s becoming a reality. We’re constantly looking for ways to refine Zest’s language capacities so managers can not only communicate with employees in a language they understand, but they can also adapt content to cultural differences. That way nothing gets lost in translation,” Christophe Bergeon, Co-Founder & CEO @ Zest.
Conquer complex organization structures
Growing from one office to multiple offices is typically a sign of success. But adding new locations isn’t as simple as 1+1. Dispersion makes it harder to keep track of what’s going on, and projects can slip through the cracks. That’s especially true when companies use a matrix structure, where employees belong to more than one team.
Zest’s Smart Org feature was developed to address just this challenge. It enables managers to virtually map the exact structure of their organization, so that polls, feedback, and shared projects and ideas always reach the right people. Managers can combine Smart Org with location attributes to get exactly the view they need to measure engagement.
Unique to Zest, the feature is a huge timesaver for companies like Van Cleef & Arpels. The fine jewelry maker uses Zest with 450 employees in France and Switzerland.
In a typical week, employees at Van Cleef & Arpels interact with team members in different cities, departments, and countries. From marketing to fine metal work, using Zest’s Smart Org feature enables HR Coordinators to perfectly map each user in relation to their team, no matter the physical location.
Boost Team Performance
Building successful working teams isn’t always easy, even when all your employees live in one place. It’s even more of a challenge when your team is scattered around the world.
Cultural and organizational differences affect performance in over 50% of global virtual teams (JTAIT 2016). So, how do you keep productivity up as your company grows?
Zest helps businesses boost team performance by offering collaboration modules, such as Projects and Ideas. These collaborative modules empower teams to work together productively, even when they live on opposite sides of the world.
Zest also encourages employees and managers to recognize their colleagues’ contributions, by sending MyZest and submitting constructive feedback, fostering a positive workplace culture.
Christophe Bergeon explains, “In a global business, driving team performance is about more than collective goal setting and collaboration. It’s about proactively engaging talent on a worldwide scale. Zest enables you to structure teamwork and make employees feel heard and valued, so performance grows along with the size of your company.”
Alignment at every level
In a global workforce, how do you ensure employees share your vision? Research from the Institute for the Study of Labor shows that employees are 72% more productive when they believe in their company’s mission (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2013). Read our article on the 10 pillars of employee engagement to learn more. But as your company grows, that vision can get lost.
Zest boosts alignment at the team level by encouraging frequent setting and tracking of goals. At a higher level, Zest’s Key Drivers feature gives managers an insight into which values matter most to employees, to see if individual values are aligned with company values.
“When you’re running a global company, you can’t always rely on face-to-face exchanges to ensure employee values and company values are aligned. That’s why it’s essential to build
your mission into every aspect of your business, including the technology you use to communicate with employees,” explains Christophe Bergeon.
When you’re running offices in multiple locations, keeping employees engaged can be a challenge. How do you maintain a happy and productive workforce in a team that spans 5 locations, or 3 different countries?
Zest enables managers to evaluate and improve levels of engagement, no matter what the size of your business. The solution aggregates results on any level: organization, team or location. Managers can compare performance for different groups or departments, getting an accurate global picture of engagement levels for their international workforce.
Sportswear and equipment company Decathlon has been using Zest since December 2017. With 27 stores in 6 different countries, the company relies on the solution to keep its 1400 employees engaged.
“Zest enables us to monitor the degree of motivation and the overall mood within teams,” says Eric Guinard, CEO of Decathlon in Japan. “It’s like a cockpit that makes it easy to see whether everyone is benefitting regularly enough from a Check-in with their coach or boss.”
Build strong foundations for globalization
As your company expands on a global scale, you’ll find unprecedented opportunities — but also new HR challenges. Zest lets you consolidate and reinforce teamwork and management across global offices and departments. It’s a simple way to ease integration into new countries and new cultures, ensuring you build strong international teams.