Feature Article - March/April 2009

Charting a Course

Navigate Your Way to Global Employee Engagement

By Catherine Eberlein Pfister


racias. Komapsumnida. Mahalo. Danke schön. Efcharisto. Merci. Toda. Grazie. Arigato. Thank you.

Regardless of where we live in the world or what languages we speak, the act of expressing gratitude and appreciation to employees is one of the most meaningful things an employer can do. And when that recognition is backed up with a reward tied to reaching corporate-wide objectives, it becomes equally meaningful and powerful to employees around the world.

But let's face it. Traveling down the road to global program development can be a bumpy, complicated and huge undertaking. That's why many global program experts believe that, first and foremost, the beginning step requires an overall vision: to create a global recognition culture, not just another recognition program or platform.

Creating such a culture begins with what one recognition expert calls a key best practice: "Remembering that people are people, no matter where they are all over the world," said Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, a provider of global strategic recognition solutions. "Successful global programs start from the premise that a company wants to treat its employees equally and to have one single goal for penetration of recognition around the world," he explained. "That culture of recognition builds on the traction of an equal number of thank you's and rewards happening in each country—multiplying them—and links them to things that are meaningful to constituents around the world."

But that's just the starting point. From here, you need to cater your program to each individual cultural nuance. "If you start at this point, the global program issues to be resolved predominantly revolve around understanding the culture of all these different employees, where they live, what's important to them, what would motivate them, and how you interact with them," Mosley explained.

And that can be a significant undertaking.

To provide insight to these issues, we asked Mosley and other global program experts to pinpoint their most important caveats and suggestions.