Many organisations now operate across the globe.  But what is the role of HR in a global organisation and how can it best add value to both the global corporation as well as the local businesses?  The key question is – what services and support should HR provide on a global basis, and what should it provide locally?

In a previous article we explored how this could be best achieved by organising HR on both a global and a local basis.  The purpose of this article is to explore the difference in the roles of global and regional HR in more depth.

Role of a Global HR Function

The key purpose of a global HR function should be to ensure the organisation employs best practice (and best fit) HR processes, policies and standards and applies them on a consistent basis globally.  This will require the function to understand the organisations strategies, as well as external trends, demographics etc that influence how the organisation should manage, develop and reward its employees.

In addition, global HR has a role in supporting the senior management of the organisation to maximise the contribution and performance of key managers globally, for example by coordinating and facilitating key HR processes with them.  These global HR processes, policies and standards are likely to be around:

  • Recruitment and selection
  • Talent management
  • Performance management
  • Education and development
  • Moving key managers internationally.

Purpose of Local/Country HR Function

The key purpose of the local HR Function however, should be to implement the global HR processes, policies and standards set by the global HR function (in line with local laws and culture) and to provide quality HR services and support to the management and staff in the region.

A key difference between the two functions will be that local HR will be responsible for managing all aspects of employee and labour relations within each specific country.  This may include managing activities such as discipline and grievance procedures, occupational health, employee assistance programs, as well as dealing with union contracts and pay negotiations.

However, local HR still has a strategic role to play by working with the local management team to understand their plans and needs for the region and to ensure that the HR function meets those needs balanced with those of the organisation as a whole.