gm-week-badgeC-J Green from Servest offers some top tips on how to move a business from a national base into an international level. Lessons have to be taken from the successful formation of a business on home turf and transferred onto the world stage.

In the HR world, international mobility is arguably more of a popular issue today than ever before – no doubt due to the blurring of borders as more organisations reap the benefits of operating worldwide. At Servest, we’re currently undergoing a transformation ourselves, one that requires an additional focus on this hot topic. In the space of a few years, we have experienced phenomenal growth and this is set to continue, especially as we are due to embark on a joint venture with a European service provider. As such, Servest will soon be developing its international base so we need to apply our learning from our national HR programmes to an international realm.

Having implemented a fluid employee mobility programme here in the UK, we understand how vital it is to plan our global expansion accordingly. Before we develop an international presence, it’s important to review the issues that may arise along the way, in addition to strategically plotting how we will encourage shared learning between employees and global hubs. What’s more, it’s essential that we as employers recognise that individuals working on an international basis will experience both pros and cons in their challenging yet rewarding careers. HR professionals, business leaders and globetrotting entrepreneurs alike need to understand both the opportunities and the pitfalls in order to respond in kind. Thus, boosting the associated benefits of such working and lessening the impact of the inevitable disruptions that may be encountered along the way. For us, it’s necessary to establish a dialogue with our employees before any such changes are implemented. This is where our Navigator Programme has stemmed from.

Servest’s Navigator development programme has been implemented in order to give the senior executives within the company ownership of how to best manage the pending organisational and continental shifts. The project launched a couple of months ago and various discussions are currently taking place in order to design a system that will ensure we’re ready for the multiple moves ahead. We didn’t want to dictate the way; we wanted the team that will be taking Servest into Europe to come up and manage the solution themselves. As the individuals that will be making this happen, this is enormously exciting for them.

Planning for international expansion requires several areas of focus. Organisations must question how to continue offering an excellent level of service, especially with the naturally fluctuating expectations from country to country. It’s also important to ask what can be done to strive towards a seamless cultural fit between teams, including how senior managers can attempt to tackle language barriers. In addition, organisations must stay up to date and adhere to the latest legislation.

By successfully operating a business across the UK, we have some well-proven mechanisms in place now, especially when it comes down to the management style that will bring the best out of people – regardless of where they’re based. We plan to continue pushing these principles, especially as we roll out internationally. In the face of such change, it’s not just important that individuals buy into how the business is developing on the whole – it’s essential – especially as they will be the individuals carrying the business forward. That being said, a move to international mobility mean business leaders have to be prepared to give the senior executives that will be behind the transition the support they need in order to maximise the returns and to ensure employees are engaged.

From the work taking place so far, we can safely conclude that companies that have global or national mobility programmes have to be adaptable to change. Businesses also need to be aware of the changing landscape of tax, including how the Base Erosion Profits Sharing initiative (BEPS), pension reform (EET to TEE), reduction to lifetime allowance, and the removal of Per Diem Dispensations affects the overall landscape. Then we have the added complication of the current Brexit situation; if Britain leave the EU, this will have repercussions, and businesses will need to be ready for such upheaval. International mobility can be used to achieve business objectives, enhance corporate culture and develop the people within an organisation. However, such pursuits require vigilant planning and buy in from everyone who is involved in worldwide rollouts. This is how we’re planning on going global; we need to move forward as one.





C-J Green is Group HR Director for Servest Group, a leading facilities management provider employing more than 20,000 people over 7,500 sites across the UK. C-J joined Servest’s HR team in August 2009 and was promoted to Group HR Director in April 2014. As head of the HR function, she is responsible for all people services within the UK group - including HR advice, HR shared services, payroll, time and attendance, HR business partnering and learning and development. She also provides leadership to the 40 staff working in the people service functions.