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The essay puts forth an understanding of the way global human resource management has become less significant since the world is undergoing a life-threatening pandemic, COVID-19. The Coronavirus pandemic has led to the generation of various difficulties in human resource management and its practices (Biron et al. 2020). The crisis has initiated increased cross-border distance problems due to restrictions on international mobility. As a result, employee recruitment, selection, training, leadership, health and safety have become a cumbersome procedure for the multinational corporations (Caligiuri, et al, 2020). The essay aims to evaluate and analyze the Hofstede culture and the way multinational companies are dealing with challenges and opportunities. The essay throws light on the challenges posed by COVID-19 about human resources and presents how multinational firms are tackling them utilizing the Hofstede culture.
The management of Human Resources entails their recruitment, selection, training, communication and appraisal. In the international context, the management of human resources is much more complicated then domestically, because of differences in policies of headquarters and subsidiaries. (ICMR, 2018).
For Example, in Orange telecom company, the human resource management strategy focuses on the creation of a healthy working environment. They aim at doing so by utilizing three human resource management practices. First, development of employee skill set, Orange makes use of training programs to develop the skills of employees to adapt to the situation. Second, Development of collective agility, to improve the productivity levels of Orange’s foreign subsidiaries. Third, commitment fostering, Orange engages employees by providing them with career opportunities (Vickery, 2020).
The Coronavirus pandemic has taken the whole world by storm, and it has also impacted the human resources and their management in international corporations (Hiscott et al. 2020). Employees mental health and well being, management of remote work practices, lack of agility, communication constraints, lack of employee engagement and uncertainty are certain challenges facing the multinational corporations’ human resource management (Roy, 2020).
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory was given by Geert Hofstede. This theory helps develop an understanding of differences in cultures across different countries and the way business is conducted across cultures. Dimensions of Hofstede’s cultural approach can be used to support the challenges faced by multinational companies worldwide in handling their human resources in the times of Covid-19 (CFI, 2020).
The first challenge posed on human resource management due to Covid-19 is balancing of mental health, and well being of employees. Stress, anxiety and other mental health issues are nothing new, but the pandemic has put these in the front seat. Now, since employees are working remotely and communication with them is not proper, their health issues cannot be solved by human resource teams (Roy, 2020). This challenge linked to the dimension of individualism Vs. collectivism. Mental health and well-being of employees is in shackles and they would primarily focus on fulfilling personal goals in this situation rather than company’s collective goals which is why they would place individualism over collectivism (CFI, 2020). At Silver Chef, maintaining mental health and well-being of employees is a significant part of corporate culture, however, since now HR teams are not able to interact with employees in person, it has become difficult for them to resolve their health and well-being issues which otherwise were addressed through wellness programs at office (Lee, 2016).
Second, managing remote work, before the COVID-19 pandemic less than a half number of companies globally had remote working programs (Dwivedi, 2020). But, financial institutions are now seeking ways to bring remote working into place. This has resulted in human resource emphasis shifting from employee engagement and productivity to response and diagnosis. Thus, providing employees with tools for work and solving their issues has become a big problem (Roy, 2020). For example, at Deloitte, work from home practices have become very essential as a means for getting remote work done from employees. In this scenario, maintaining regular communication with employees and resolving their issues has become cumbersome for the HR department at Deloitte (Deloitte, 2020). This is linked to uncertainty avoidance index as a dimension of Hofstede’s theory. This would shift from high uncertainty index which had a low tolerance for uncertain work on part of employees to low uncertainty index because employees are working remotely and there is a lack of understanding in them about the expected outcome of their work (CFI, 2020).
Third challenge is lack of agility. Agility is needed for seeking quick responses and feedback which is slowed down by processes of getting approval from Human resource managers before going ahead with a task. This slows down the entire process of data collection and taking immediate steps in crisis demands (Roy, 2020). The dimension of long-term Vs. Short-term orientation can be linked to this challenge. In this case, due to lack of agility, employees may strive for achievement of short-term goals undertaking short-term orientation and realizing short-term success, compromising long-term goals of the multinational company (CFI, 2020).
Fourth is employee engagement. Ultimate company goal is to raise employee productivity by keeping them engaged, however, due to remote work and poor communication, getting everyone on the same page becomes very ambiguous for the human resources (Bush & Balven, 2018). This results in unsystematic routine and workflow from employees, companies are not able to update them regularly affecting their morale and motivation greatly (Roy, 2020). Indulgence Vs. Restraint dimension of Hofstede’s cultural theory fits here. Restraints have taken over because of lack of proper communication, due to which employees are not updated making them feel left out and working as a demotivator for them to work as per the needs and desires of expected work outcomes, leaving no room for indulgence of employees at work (CFI, 2020). At Ernst and Young, employee engagement has been hampered due to coronavirus, since the only way company can keep employees updated is through zoom and skype calls, leading to lack of regular feedback thus declining employee morale (EY Global, 2020).
Fifth challenge would be uncertainty to job security for human resources of multinationals. Employees globally are in the fear of losing their jobs due to the pandemic. HR department is also under pressure to manage employees and operations, planning to lay-off some employees to cut costs during a pandemic (Wood et al. 2020). Due to this, many companies are laying off employees based on gender, qualification, etc. Among them, females in some companies are being laid off, viewing them as incompetent in comparison to men (Roy, 2020). Here, Hofstede’s dimension of Masculinity Vs. Femininity justifies the situation. Societal perceptions of masculinity, that is males considered tough and females tender to achieve material goals of company places femininity below it thereby discriminating between gender roles (CFI, 2020). According to Emily Martins, the vice president of National Women’s Law Centre, nearly 36.5 million people have lost jobs in the pandemic so far, majority 20.5 million accounting for females (Connley, 2020).
Coronavirus has impacted all sectors negatively, however, some industries have also experienced positive impacts in Australia. Many companies have made remote working an option for employees, giving work from home opportunity with flexible timings instead of laying them off, which is a recommendation to all multinational companies (Fox, et al, 2020).
McKinsey recently surveyed 800 US employees, which found out that work from home has had a positive impact on employees in the form of greater flexibility, better employee engagement, increase in productivity and a better sense of well-being. Leaders of Human Resources can introduce changes and address employee issues by building trust through regular communication, being transparent and keeping employees updated. Also, emphasizing workforce effectiveness and well-being by better employee engagement and wellness programs must be brought into place (Emmett, et al 2020).
HR department must assure the safety and security of jobs to employees by demonstrating compassionate leadership and communicating assurance of job security to employees. Employees can be sustained by rewarding and appreciating their performance, offering bonuses for exceeding expected results. Investment on part of companies to maintain good employee relations and training HR managers’ trust quotient will increase their reliability, credibility, intimacy and low self-orientation. Creation of a culture of social harmony, and inclusion, connecting people and building team spirit and developing processes to incorporate employee needs would enable multinational corporations to manage human resources effectively and efficiently (Emmett, et al, 2020).
The essay has presented the way human resources are managed in multinational companies by development of employee skill set, agility and ensuring commitment to work. The challenges posed by COVID-19 on human resource management are mental health and well being of employees which inflict Hofstede’s dimension of individualism making the employees put their personal goals over company goals, management of remote work leads to low uncertainty tolerance since employees are not clear about their responsibilities, lack of agility makes them focus on short term orientation neglecting long-term goals of the company, low employee engagement brings with it low indulgence and uncertain job security particularly for women places masculinity over and above femininity. McKinsey, states that higher employee productivity is achieved through flexible timing offered by work from home facility. Recommendation for the HR department of every company is to engage employee trust through regular communication, employee engagement programs, appreciation and rewarding, creation of a culture of inclusion and aligning work processes with employee needs.
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Bush, J. T., & Balven, R. M. (2018). Catering to the crowd: An HRM perspective on crowd worker engagement. Human Resource Management Review. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hrmr.2018.10.003
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CFI. (2020). Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory. Retrieved from https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/other/hofstedes-cultural-dimensions-theory/
Connley, C. (2020). Coronavirus job losses are impacting everyone, but women are taking a harder hit than men. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/14/coronavirus-job-losses-disproportionately-impact-women.html
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Vickery, N. (2020). Managing HR in multinational corporations- Orange example. Retrieved from https://www.hrzone.com/community/blogs/natevickery/managing-hr-in-multinational-corporations-orange-example
Wood, J., Oh, J., Park, J., & Kim, W. (2020). The Relationship Between Work Engagement and Work–Life Balance in Organizations: A Review of the Empirical Research. Human Resource Development Review, 1534484320917560.
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