Top 5 HR challenges in your global expansion you must overcome

So, you’re ready to take your business to the next level by breaking into new markets. But let’s face it, you’re stepping into unfamiliar territory. You’ve got a whole new ball game of recruitment, legal compliance, payroll management, taxes, training, and more. Slip up on any of these, and you’re looking at penalties and setbacks that could slam the brakes on your global ambitions.

But don’t sweat it! Your company’s rules and regulations don’t have to mirror those of your home turf. It’s all about gearing up to tackle the most common Human Resources hurdles that come with spreading your wings globally. This means investing your time and resources into understanding the legal landscape and ensuring compliance.

Now, let’s dive into the most common (and often underestimated) Human Resources challenges. We’ve got the solutions to smooth your transition into foreign markets. Buckle up, and let’s get started!

Recruitment, incorporation and training

Before you set up shop in a new country, you’ve got to get the lay of the land. And we’re not just talking about the best local eats. We’re talking labor laws – hiring, compensation, anti-discrimination, and more. These rules can swing wildly from one country to the next.

Take China, for instance. Here, companies can’t hire women for heavy-duty jobs like mining, logging, or high-altitude work. Then there’s Portugal, where you can’t fire employees. Period. Your only option? Offer a sweet enough resignation package and hope they bite.

But that’s not all. You’ve got to do your homework on the local labor market. Is your compensation package up to snuff with local law? Have you considered work hours, overtime compensation, and severance? These details need to be rock-solid to avoid future legal headaches.

Let’s look at Germany. They cap the workweek at 48 hours, overtime included. Compare that to the U.S., where there’s no ceiling on weekly work hours. To steer clear of these often baffling hiring and termination laws, companies turn to an Employer Of Record (EOR) like INS Global, who knows the local laws like the back of their hand.

But legal compliance is just the tip of the iceberg. You also need to know the best recruitment channels in your target market. International or local job boards, social media platforms, print publications – you name it. For example, many Western companies recruiting in China boost their chances of snagging top talent by partnering with a local EOR.

Even after you’ve set up shop, a host of factors can shape the employer-employee relationship. National and local laws, industry-specific regulations, union rules, and Collective Labour Agreements (CBA) – they all play a part.

And let’s not forget training. In many countries, it’s expected to train employees in technical and soft skills. Take a look at European companies in Belgium, France, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden. They’re all about investing in employee training.

So there you have it. A deep dive into the world of global expansion. It’s a wild ride, but with the right knowledge and resources, you’ll be ready to take on the world.

Compensation and benefits

So, you’re thinking about expanding your business overseas? That’s great! But before you do, there’s a few things you need to know.

First off, you’re going to need a commercial entity in your target country to handle payroll for your international employees. But don’t sweat it, you can always outsource this to an Employer Of Record (EOR) to legally manage your payroll.

Next up, you’ve got to understand the local laws on classifying employees as independent contractors. This might not even be a legal option in your target country. And trust me, you don’t want to mess with this. The penalties for breaking these laws can be severe, especially in the U.S. and Canada.

Now, let’s talk compensation and benefits. You’ve got to be competitive and comply with the law. For instance, in the Philippines, you’re required to pay all non-managerial employees an extra month’s salary or a bonus. Over in Belgium, the government requires an optional permit for a professional break, where an allowance is paid and work is guaranteed after the break. And don’t forget about vacation allowances, sick leave, health insurance, savings plans, and cost of living compensation. Did you know that Bulgarian law offers 410 days of paid maternity leave?

And then there are the benefits that aren’t legally required but are still expected. These might include things you’re not familiar with in your home country. For example, transportation credits, various assignments, and more. In Belgium, companies often provide heavily subsidized company cars to employees.

So there you have it. A quick and dirty guide to payroll and benefits for global expansion. It might seem like a lot, but with the right knowledge and resources, you’ll be ready to take your business to the next level.


Alright, let’s talk taxes. You see, tax laws are the big players that determine the commercial, property, and sales taxes your organization has to pay in your target country.

Now, processing income tax for your employees is a big deal. You’ve got to send the right amount to the local government and provide tax forms for your employees. And don’t forget about payroll tax. This could include unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, or other programs.

But here’s the kicker: tax regulations change. And you’ve got to stay on top of these changes. They can affect double or triple taxation agreements, repatriated tax rules, and more. Take South Korea, for example. In 2017, they introduced a tax on robots that cut tax incentives for companies investing in automation.

So there you have it. Navigating the tax maze might seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and resources, you’ll be able to tackle it head-on.

Data compliance

Alright, let’s dive into the world of data privacy. You see, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is making waves. It’s likely to trigger similar data privacy laws around the globe. In fact, California has already jumped on the bandwagon with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2018.

Now, here’s the deal. Your organization has got to play by the rules when it comes to capturing, storing, or transferring employee data. We’re talking banking information, medical records, and more.

But it doesn’t stop there. The same goes for customer data. Especially when the laws in your target country might be different from those back home.

And here’s the kicker: if you don’t protect that data, you’re looking at some hefty fines. Not to mention the damage to your company’s reputation. Just take a look at Google and Amazon. They had to cough up more than $160 million in fines for tracking cookies without consent in France in 2020.

So, there you have it. Data privacy isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a global concern that your organization needs to take seriously.

Communication and cultural adaptation

Alright, let’s get down to business. If you’re planning to efficiently carry out recruitment, onboarding, and training operations, you’ve got to have a solid understanding of the linguistic and cultural makeup of your target country.

Now, here’s the secret sauce. A workplace that fosters collaboration and participation is one where your Human Resources department has provisions to bridge the language gap. And don’t forget, you can always partner with a local EOR who’s got experience in these waters. With Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, German, and French being among the most spoken languages worldwide, it’s no surprise that this linguistic diversity spills over into the global business landscape.

But wait, there’s more. Adapting to the cultural nuances of your target market is the key to building harmonious and productive international teams. Your Human Resources department needs to be ready to tackle cultural differences head-on, whether it’s etiquette, business relationships, work-life balance, or religious beliefs. For instance, in Asia, business transactions are more relationship-focused compared to the United States or Europe.

So, there you have it. Navigating the global business landscape is a linguistic and cultural rodeo, and your organization needs to be ready to ride.

Global expansion with a local association

Expanding into a new country can be discouraging with the seemingly endless legal, cultural and behavioral challenges that companies can face. Without a company in your target market and without a history of operating in that region, it may seem almost impossible to unlock sustainable growth.

But due diligence and partnering with an experienced EOR can help simplify your entry into new international markets. You don’t need to handle legal and Human Resources challenges yourself. Instead, you can focus on business development, customer acquisition, supply chain development and more.

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