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Blog : Global HR - better than world class


Global HR - better than world class

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When it comes to sporting events, 2015 has – so far - been a year of ups and downs for the UK. At the women’s soccer world cup in Canada, England had high hopes for returning with the cup; failing to do so with a last minute own goal. The England cricket team have walked into one of the oldest international tests in the world, The Ashes. And this last week Andy Murray faced the best tennis players on the planet at Wimbledon in an attempt to make the British public proud.

With UK sports professionals reaching for international victory, Jo Harley, Managing Director of Purple Cubed, asks if UK HR directors have the same ambition – is UK HR strategy doing enough to compete on a global stage?

The internet means we live in a world that is more interconnected than ever before and eBusiness ensures that any company, whether large or small, can be globally visible. As a result, UK HR directors have had to learn to think globally, while acting locally – though this is easier said than done.

Taking into consideration the number of speakers at the world’s top management summits – the World Economic Forum, SHRM or the Drucker Society - as well as rankings such as Thinkers 50, UK HR and management leaders are vastly outnumbered by practitioners from the US, India and the rest of Europe.

Does this mean that UK HR leaders are failing to get a grasp of the global marketplace?  

The simple answer to this question is ‘no’ and leading UK HR thinkers believe this too; Eugenio Pirri, Global Vice President of luxury hotel management company, Dorchester Collection agrees in his exclusive interview with us this month.

If we take HR in the US for example, and look at the basic operations – holiday, flexible working, maternity leave or employment rights – it’s a fact that UK employers put more structures in place to allow employees a work-life balance. Comparably, productivity from UK employees is higher, with the US having experienced its biggest productivity drop in decades this May. And in the UK HR directors have moved to address social mobility, diversity, women on boards as well as innovation, enterprise and disruptive HR.

But it’s remiss to compare HR strategy based on country – after all European labour laws are much more swayed in favour of the employee than in the US where the employer has more favourable powers around annual leave, dismissal and maternity rights as well as tribunal proceedings. This means operational HR is vastly different across the Atlantic, so the role of the HR professional in the US would be far removed from that of its UK counterpart.

Instead we should look at how our operations differ globally; focusing on corporate culture and values; and by the talent and commitment of our engaged employees.

We know that talent is our greatest asset, and we know that talented and engaged employees who are passionate about company values and live the culture differentiate average employers from excellent businesses. True engagement is what allows our people to innovate, collaborate, inspire colleagues, offer amazing customer service and ultimately grow a business.


Yet Gallup’s most recent Global Workforce Report, shows only 13% of employees around the world are actively engaged.

Though based on the case studies and interviews with HR directors I read in UK trade press, I would argue things aren’t quite so bad. I’m constantly inspired by the stand-out HR innovations from organisations large and small, as well as HR leaders such as Andy Street and David McLeod, which have all helped push employee engagement up the business agenda.

So what we need to be doing is collaborating more with our peers in order to demonstrate the great examples of what UK HR is doing, on a global stage. Now is the time for UK HR directors to share ideas with their global counterparts about how they engage and mobilise talent. This is how we will move the talent and engagement agenda forward globally; making HR better than world class.


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