Last year was unlike any other, and though the end of the pandemic is now in sight, COVID-19 has forever left its mark on the way we live and work.  

The 2020 global shift to remote working happened practically overnight, completely changing how organisations and their workforces operate. 

For human resource (HR) teams, this period in history has been one of the most challenging yet. A global health crisis and the subsequent management of remote teams, mass redundancies, mental health crises and an economic downturn are just a few of the key issues keeping HR professionals up at night.  

But what are the top four challenges HR teams will face in 2021? 

1. Finding the right talent on a global scale

With remote and even hybrid working practices becoming the new norm, many companies are realising they can cast their net wider when looking for talent. Suddenly, without the constraints of physical office locations, the talent pool looks much more internationalAs a result, companies will need to adjust their hiring and onboarding strategies to suit remote operations across multiple jurisdictions.  

For example, job specifications and company collateral may need to be translated into several languages in line with target countries. Organisations will also need to make full use of technology and software to facilitate virtual recruitment processes such as video interviews.  

Equally, businesses need to adapt their onboarding procedures. For companies that have been accustomed to face-to-face inductions and introductions, the sudden shift to virtual onboarding has been a challenging adjustment. But it’s vital that all workers receive the same welcoming and seamless experience — regardless of where in the world they’re based. 

2. Making remote work, work — for everyone

Working from home varies significantly from country to country. In the Netherlands, for instanceit’s normal for companies to have flexible working policies and let staff work from home a few days a week. In places like France, this is much less commonplace. So, HR professionals need to be able to manage diverse, global remote teams with both awareness and cultural sensitivity.  

Plus, while remote working might be some employees’ dream come true, for others, it’ll be their worst nightmare. So, HR teams need to be aware of this potential conflict and introduce policies and practices that foster social cohesion and make remote working work for everyone.  

3. Prioritising mental health

The past year has taken a toll on many people’s mental health. Although remote working has its advantages, it can also become very isolating for employees — particularly if staff are spread out across different countries, far away from colleagues. Combined with current worries about job security and varying national lockdown restrictions, managing these concerns can be even more of a challenge for HR professionals.  

To tackle this, HR teams need to evaluate and implement strategies to support their employees’ mental health and keep them engaged and happy. For example, they can implement buddy systems so that staff members always have someone to go to. Virtual ‘happy hours’ can also replace typical after-work socialising. However, again, it’s important to consider differing cultural norms and ensure social activities are inclusive.  

4. Keeping on top of changing regulations

With remote working on the rise worldwide, there are bound to be some changes to employment regulations and best practices. In fact, France has already introduced a new ‘right to disconnect’ law. Not taking time away from work can lead to a poor work-life balance, work-related stress and burnout — none of which bode well for employersThis law aims to manage expectations and ensure staff aren’t burning themselves out by working all hours.  

Many other countries are now also considering introducing similar regulations. As such, HR teams need to stay on top of the changing regulatory landscape, especially if they operate across jurisdictions and are subject to varying local laws.  

Need help understanding and managing your HR requirements? An Employer of Record (EOR) such as PEO Worldwide can take the headache out of global HR. Contact us today to find out more about our international employment services.  

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Published On: April 30th, 2021Last Updated: March 10th, 2022

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About the Author: Paul Sleath

Paul is responsible for global marketing and communications including brand, advertising, digital marketing, and demand generation. Paul has a wealth of experience previously co-founding PEO Worldwide and was also the former managing director of CPM People/Stipenda.