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Rewarding Globally: Four Things to Consider (Guest Blog)

You can’t begin to consider rewarding globally without focusing on cultural, socioeconomic and legal differences around the world.

When considering a rewards strategy for your global employee base, it’s important to keep in mind that one size does not fit all.  In a complex global economy, establishing any business program is not A to B.  It’s more like A to Q, H, P and Z and then back to B, but not before a quick pit-stop at T.  You can’t understand the global picture of a program without first diving into the various local pictures that comprise it.  For example, data privacy is a hot topic, but not everybody can recite 25 countries’ data privacy laws from memory – nor should they have to.  You can’t begin rewarding globally without focusing on cultural, socioeconomic and legal differences present around the world.

To develop an equitable and engaging program for rewarding globally, here are four things to consider:

Local involvement– Make sure to include local stakeholders early on.  HR is a great place to start.  They have their fingers on the pulse of what’s important to employees in their region and can help encourage program engagement.  A few years back, one of our global programs suffered from poor participation in Australia.   Very few nominations were being submitted and employees rarely logged into the program site.  After a successful strategy session with our client’s Australian HR team we engaged local leadership, implemented an email campaign and created some digital signage promoting the program.   Our efforts were fruitful; we saw an almost instant rise in engagement!

Local and International Law– This is complex, and for obvious reasons, make sure to consider all facets of what your global rewards program needs to remain in compliance all over the world.  You’ll need to take into account things like tax laws, employment laws and data privacy regulations.  It’s always better to talk to the lawyers before you have a problem!

Rewarding globally

Rewarding a global workforce means developing an understanding of laws, customs, cultural differences and even climates. What motivates someone on one continent may not be effective – or even legal – on another.

Cost of Living– In order to create an equitable program across countries and cultures, you must acknowledge how drastically the value of each country’s currency can vary. One of our clients had previously run a program that didn’t account for Cost of Living. This resulted in someone in the UK mistakenly awarding a colleague in Egypt with the equivalent of their annual salary!    When we took on the program, we immediately recognized this oversight, and applied a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to ensure that the awards for each country equitably reflect how employees across the world live their lives.

Supply Chain– At Xceleration, we take pride in our ability to take advantage of an extensive network of local suppliers, which has a tremendous impact on both the employee experience and our clients’ bottom lines. Local suppliers know what rewards will be popular in any given region and allow us to ship rewards to participants as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

Implementing a global rewards program is a complex, intense undertaking.  Xceleration has spent close to two decades building the expertise necessary to guide your company through this process.  If your company is considering rewarding globally, we would love the opportunity to help.

Rachel Rosenbloom is Vice-President of Client Solutions – overseeing client relationships and program development – and co-General Manager of Xceleration’s Atlanta office.

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