When setting up operations in a country that isn't your own, there is a lot to organise, such as ensuring your business complies with international trading regulations, complex financial management, and practical aspects like finding the right premises.
In this ready flow of practical tasks, is all too easy to forget that you will be working in a new culture, with new employment rules, and with new people, whose expectations differ – sometimes vastly – from those you are used to.
With twenty valuable years of experience working closely with British and French companies, and the holder of qualifications in both employment disciplines, I am well-versed in the HR differences between the two countries, and how these translate into effective business operations.
The official introduction of Brexit has seen a wealth of new enquiries about how to manage HR effectively in France. As there seems to be scarce guidance online, I have set out some key considerations below.
It's already well established that having the appropriate work culture and strategy for maintaining good working relationships are critically important for the effective delivery of business objectives. As far as employee relations are concerned, the approach adopted must ensure that conflicts or disputes are kept to a minimum or even better, resolved, as soon as possible and with the least impact on the business.
The way conflict is dealt with currently by most organisations is one whose primary focus is to judge a situation and deliver an outcome. It does not always consider the issues to be solved depending on the type of issue (whether it is just a difference of opinion or it has reached an entrenched stage) as explained in this paper from ACAS. Many HR professionals also invite employees to raise grievances formally in order to deal with them, the informal stage being left for the manager to handle.
Here comes the festive season yet again with the routine end of year parties and office celebrations. Under those wonderful celebrations lie the murky waters of potential litigations and reputational damage that may result from reckless incidents.
Whether the Christmas party takes place outside of working hours and/or off company premises, the normal laws that protect employees and their rights still apply under the Safety at work Act. If an employee is injured or abused in any way, the company may well be legally liable.
Furthermore, employee relations issues can arise when an office party is planned insensitively; when this follows a period of cost-cutting and redundancies or when no consideration was given to staff from a different faith.
A few tips to consider:
There’s little doubt that businesses benefit from having engaged employees. The landmark piece of research in this field, the MacLeod Report, provided conclusive evidence that staff who enjoy their work and feel connected with their company are more loyal, productive and committed to their jobs.
But eight years on – and several more convincing research studies later – businesses still seem to be struggling with the concept, with surveys showing that levels of disengagement across industry are still high.
It’s a problem that companies cannot afford to ignore. The shock waves created by Brexit, a volatile economic climate and political upheavals around the globe have combined to create massive uncertainty in the workplace. If companies want to keep hold of talented employees, they need to make sure people feel valued, understand where the business is going and can see they have a part in its future.