The corona virus outbreak has disrupted businesses and forced human resource managers to reconsider their roles as they respond to social distancing techniques and an entirely new workplace culture. To halt the spread of the corona virus, businesses have accelerated their transition to a remote work paradigm on a scale never seen before (Sridevi, 2021). As face-to-face cooperation is phased out in favor of e-mail and videoconferencing, human resource managers are required to do tough tasks under adverse conditions. Not only are human resource professionals worried about their employees’ health and well-being mostly during pandemic, many are also handling paperwork and offering consolation to the millions of laid-off or furloughed workers.
For remaining employees, human resource managers are mandated with the duty of ensuring that people remain productive, engaged, motivated, and connected, all of which are dynamic objectives in the new reality (Hegadekatti, 2018.). Numerous WTO members’ implemented temporary borders bans and travel restrictions in order to limit the outbreak of COVID-19. The stringent limitations on cross-border travel are driven by public health concerns, not commerce motives. These have, however, had a significant effect on trade. Several members have supplemented initial broad travel restrictions with more targeted rules aimed at facilitating the movement of “important” foreign workers or establishing “travel bubbles” that allow for quarantine-free mobility between partners(Jin, 2021). The following paper discusses the difficulties MNEs confront in managing their international workforces amid turbulent and uncertain times, using various organisational examples.
Alternatives for developing future Global leaders in MNEs
To make good choices, businesses need to have a broad group of executives with a strong grasp of their local consumers, especially in the developing areas. At the top levels, along with the C-suite and CEO, opportunities must be available to individuals of all national origins. Coca-Cola, headquartered in Atlanta, is a pioneer in regional diversity. The company was founded in the 1960s by South African Paul Austin. Coca-Cola has now had CEOs from Cuba, Australia, and Ireland, resulting in today’s CEO, Turkish-American Muhtar Kent (Caligiuri et al., 2020). Over the last decade, two Swiss corporations, Nestle and Novartis, have undertaken significant changes away from Swiss-dominated boards of directors and senior leadership in support of a broad collection of nationalities. Both companies currently have significant non-Swiss representation on their boards of directors and several business divisions located outside Switzerland.
Nestle’s executive committee is composed of 10 different nationalities, whereas Novartis’s executive committee is composed of 80 percent non-Swiss nationals. Today’s great global leaders have traits that are markedly different from those of traditional bureaucratic managers (Kim, Chung, and Brewster, 2019). They require a high degree of emotional intelligence and self-awareness in order to unify individuals from many cultures, most of whom are new to the business, behind the organization’s purpose and values and enable them to make choices independently of higher-level guidance. IBM’s chairman and previous CEO, Samuel Palmisano, understood that the company’s conventional hierarchical structure would have been ineffective in the twenty-first century due to its dependence on product or market silos. In 2003, he restructured the business as a “integrated global enterprise” based upon values-based leadership and cooperation, and he empowers executives via special incentives to disseminate IBM’s culture worldwide.
Collaborative companies, such as IBM, need far more managers than a small number of senior executives (Sarabi et al., 2020). With flatter organization and decentralized authority, companies must cultivate astute world leaders capable of operating both locally and internationally. According to IBM’s former chief learning officer, the company will require 50,000 leaders inside the future. Unilever already conducts and over half of its operations in Asia, a figure that will continue to grow (Sridevi, 2021). The business has embarked on a significant effort to train 500 global leaders via intense leadership development programmes to position them for increased positions. According to CEO Paul Polman, “Unilever’s Leadership Development Programme trains potential future leaders for a more turbulent and uncertain environment in which the only real differentiator is leadership quality.”
PCNs and HCNs are very often presented as antipodes, and it is generally assumed that its use of PNCs results in more positive outcomes for MNCs than using HNCs, if there are compelling market forces or a high degree of institutional/cultural distance that promote a high level of HCN use(Ng et al., 2018). However, rather than actual research, insights into the typical features of PCNs and HCNs are often obtained from underlying models about individual behavioural rationales, as well as organisational and institutional effects. Regarding the knowledge with the MNC’s general objectives, rules, and procedures, PCNs are seen as ardent adherents of headquarters orientation (Collings and Isichei, 2018). They are frequently considered as the most effective method of exerting headquarters control over subsidiaries and transmitting tacit, complete understanding to affiliates. In contrast, HCNs are viewed as primarily having a local (subsidiary) orientation as a result of their socialisation in the host nation and expertise with the host country’s social, legal, and economic context (Ng et al., 2018). According to Reade, this translates into a greater degree of effort and action on the part of HCNs for their local subsidiary than for the MNC as a whole.
Leaders must have experience living and working in various locations to be successful in global positions. Extensive travel is no replacement for living in a country, acquiring proficiency in the local language, and integrating oneself in the culture. Henkel, a German chemical company with executives from a variety of nations, requires executives to reside in at least two distinct countries until being considered for advancement.
Restrictions and constraints on movement of staff across international border for short, medium and long-term opportunities
Today’s extraordinary travel and mobility restrictions may have both immediate and long-term consequences. In the near term, the UN Migration Agency reports that “at least 174 nations, regions, or areas had imposed new or amended existing COVID-19-related travel restrictions as of March 23.” The most often observed kinds of limitations are those imposed on individuals with medical conditions, those going from “restricted nations,” and those whose nationalities coincide with prohibited countries (Petricevic and Teece, 2019). The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled a large number of workers to work from home, adding to their stress from the health danger itself. This stressor is exacerbated by the fact that several managers are now managing team members for the first time. This abrupt shift has exacerbated the difficulties inherent in cooperating and leading from distant, difficulties that we in the area of international business (IB) are well acquainted with but which have largely gone unresolved in quality management. COVID-19 has created a never-before-seen catastrophe in the tourism industry (Wan, Williamson and Pandit, 2020). International tourism is projected to have its worst year since 1950 in terms of travellers and income in 2020.
The pandemic of COVID-19 has sparked an unprecedented crisis in the tourism industry. International tourism is predicted to have its worst year since 1950 in respect of both traveller numbers and income in 2020(Sarabi et al., 2020). For so many of the members of the team who have not yet attended cross-cultural training on cross-border relationship building, any lessons gained via training (if given today) would fall on fertile ground, since team members already share a “enemy” in COVID-19. This cross-cultural training in MNEs will indeed help reduce ambiguity surrounding cross-cultural differences by teaching employees how to work collaboratively across cultures; how to constantly pursue similarities with colleagues from those other cultures; how to use technology inclusively; as well as how to establish team-level ground rules for connectivity and work flow.
Additionally, this training may assist colleagues from diverse cultural backgrounds in becoming more aware of circumstances in which they may be jumping to judgement due to their “limited bandwidth” condition. Mostly during COVID-19 pandemic, the absence of professional stimulus when working from home encourages more self-directed knowledge seeking to meet the desire to learn, progress, and show competence. For example, since before the start of stay-at-home contracts, LinkedIn Learning courses have witnessed a threefold rise in use (Petricevic and Teece, 2019). With a rising interest in self-directed learning, organizations should use this opportunity to invest in their workers’ skill development. At a time when workers’ desire to learn, develop, and show competency is at an all-time high, businesses that provide access to or pay employees for online training accomplish a clear win–win situation: they boost talent potential while simultaneously increasing employee engagement.
During this time of global stress and uncertainty, organisations (particularly MNEs) should prioritise these three key cultural adaptability competencies: tolerance for uncertainty, endurance, and inquiry for all workers working in multicultural environments (Wan, Williamson and Pandit, 2020). Employees working with clients, suppliers, or colleagues from other cultures, whether physically or digitally, will need these skills more than ever. Selection is important. Additionally, businesses may utilise this time to reconsider their bench strength for culturally flexible people in order to determine who will be most successful in circumstances characterised by increasing novelty and uncertainty. Additionally, the crisis provides a chance to revisit the foundations of virtual cooperation. The continuing health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the required physical separation measures, has compelled many businesses to implement widespread telework (working from home) (Sridevi, 2021) . This may accelerate the adoption of teleworking techniques in the aftermath of the crisis, with a variety of implications and unclear net impact on growth and other metrics.
Public policies and collaboration between social partners are critical for sustaining and developing innovative, efficient, and welfare-improving employment methods that emerged during the crisis (Sarabi et al., 2020). To maximise the productivity and welfare gains associated with increased telework adoption, governments could also promote investments in firms’ as well as workers’ physiological and managerial capacity to telework and addressing possible issues about worker well-being and long-term innovation associated with excessive workspace downscaling.
Longer term, continual improvement may improve to the degree that the crisis precipitates broader and more intelligent adoption of effective telework methods, thus improving worker well enough and efficiency as well as reducing company expenses (Wan, Williamson and Pandit, 2020). This may accelerate the transition to a “new normal,” which might have occurred more gradually in the lack of the crisis, given the uncertainty and costs associated with required organisational and managerial changes, as well as other roadblocks - cultural resistance or legal restrictions.
Changes in working environment
The COVID-19 outbreak has heightened awareness of new modes of global work, prompting us to reassess how MNEs employ global teams, virtual collaboration, and foreign assignments.
Global teams and virtual collaboration
The COVID-19 outbreak has underlined the critical importance of workers being able to function efficiently across borders while staying at home. The importance placed on multicultural teams has increased significantly. With employees facing the same global stressor, future research should explore whether their shared experience has resulted in increased cohesion and, if so, whether MNEs that have invested a lot of time in motivating their staff on cross-cultural online communication now also have global teams with higher expectations of participant reliability (Collings and Isichei, 2018). Working from home has revealed workers’ true selves, as conference calls have brought colleagues into one other’s homes, where they could view their dogs, children, and home décor. Future research should explore if the COVID-19 pandemic facilitated better worldwide virtual team cohesiveness by exposing each other’s real identities.
Additionally, the crisis provides the opportunity to revisit the foundations of virtual cooperation. IHRM scholars may leverage the present condition of widespread virtual collaboration as a ‘extreme case scenario’ for examining the effectiveness of online communication (Jin, 2021). They may wonder if the methods developed via virtual collaborations between managers or technical specialists (e.g., information systems engineers) are sufficient for accomplishing successful work in previously non-virtual collaborations, such as those among administrative employees inside the MNE. Amazon employs about 75,000 people in the greater Seattle region. The newly launched remote work policy is comparable to those of other major technology firms. Google stated last month that about 60% of its employees will work from home a few days a week and 20% would work entirely from home(Jin, 2021). Additionally, Google allows all workers to work virtually full time for four weeks each year. Both Facebook and Microsoft have stated that the majority of employees can work remotely.
Assignments on an international scale
The notion of rising paths of foreign assignments appears extremely improbable, given that the borders of the nations blocked for fear of the COVID-19 disease spreading further. Presuming that fewer workers will be sent overseas to work and live as part of international assignments, alternative MNE control mechanisms for subsidiaries, alternative mechanisms for shaping new global leaders, and alternative mechanisms for acknowledging skill shortages in host countries should be considered (Sarabi et al., 2020). Future research should follow the living abroad adjustment literature’s lead in determining who is best equipped to adjust to the various facets of this novel work environment and the extent to which support practises have facilitated employee modification to different aspects of work-life throughout these uncertain times. For instance, some workers may have adapted successfully – perhaps preferred – to working remotely. Others may adapt to working from home only when supportive company practices such as frequent team meetings or coaching on how to operate remotely are introduced. Working from home mostly during pandemic may provide new avenues for IHRM study on flexible work schedules for expatriates.
The Importance of Inpatriates
In today’s climate, inpatriates play a critical part in multinational corporations’ internationalization strategies and may be employed in place of expatriates. Inpatriates are management executives who operate on a semi-permanent or continuous basis in another country. These employees are moved to the parent world office for a set time period. Inpatriates could serve as an agent for both businesses’ direct management of certain operations (Schuster, Holtbrügge and Engelhard, 2019). Inpatriates is the network builder, charged with the responsibility of establishing efficient communication between management and shareholders. They are the network builders, evaluating the operations of both businesses and establishing an efficient network in order to successfully implement the task. Foreign companies may successfully complete international assignments with the assistance of inpatriates. Furthermore, inpatriates serve as a linguistic hub for businesses (Maley and Moeller, 2018). Businesses can gain an understanding of the working environment via inpatriates. Furthermore, subsidiary companies may be able to evaluate how headquarters operates. Additionally, expatriates serve as an agent of change for the subsidiary company. To effectively transmit MNCs’ corporate culture across national boundaries, MNCs rely on inpatriates to absorb and integrate company values that are generally more prominent at headquarters while executing assigned tasks(Schuster, Holtbrügge and Engelhard, 2019). If successful, inpatriates may successfully communicate these corporate principles to their return subsidiaries. In times of crisis, inpatriates play a critical role in assisting businesses in carrying out its activities.
Increased focus on employee health and well-being by employers
In 2021 and beyond, businesses should priorities well being, which is the condition of comfort, happiness or joy, to really create a resilient workforce and restore the economy. Businesses should consider wellbeing as a concrete talent, a crucial contribution from companies and a quantifiable result. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that controlling the health and safety of workers is a fundamental issue for IHRM, which is an essential part of MNEs’ major difficulty in defining social responsibility, is handled(Dennerlein et al., 2020). The pandemic has raised companies’ interest in the financial, social, and emotional well-being of their workers. Supports include improved sick leave, financial support, operating hours adjusted and availability for child care. Some businesses helped the community via the transfer of operations to manufacture products and to provide services to help fight the outbreak, for example. The present financial downturn has also stretched the limits of how businesses perceive the experience of employees. What counts for companies and workers, individual characteristics rather than external ones, prevail.
The use of such measurements may be an effective means of promoting physical health and enhancing job emotional well-being. In the face of an unseen and possibly fatal danger, critical frontline employees are running more and harder. In addition to physically protecting individuals, companies must also manage employees’ exhaustion and stress caused by crisis strain. Amazon has, for example, hired 100,000 new jobs in March and added 75,000 more in order to assist satisfy the demand of its customers and enable current staff fulfill orders for essential products(Spurk and Straub, 2020). Over 800 million dollars are invested in the security measures of COVID-19. Amazon has also extended sick pay to COVID-19 or quarantined Amazon workers. Despite the ongoing growth of COVID-19 in the worldwide market, Amazon suggests that all global staff who works from home in a position that can. Each team is unique and not all positions work from home.
Workers or partners whose job necessitates their strong existence at their workplace have entitled to all their usual hours off benefits paid and unpaid. In an official statement to the Board Chairs of Britain’s main supermarkets, the Centre for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), urged them to provide more safety for workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic (Dennerlein et al., 2020). In a letter, the world human rights think tank calls on the Chairs to develop the strategies for taking immediate steps to safeguard workers’ and customers’ health and safety, Asda, The Co-operative, Lidl, Morrison, M&S, Sainsbury’ s, Aldi, Tesco and the Waitrose/John Lewis Partnership.
These measures include declaring a lead for COVID risk reduction, forcing social distance to shops, offering protection equipment for employees, including gloves, hand sanitary conditions and protective displays at check-outs and carrying out pre-entry thermal controls for customers and personnel.
To conclude, it can be stated Businesses have been affected by the corona virus pandemic, forcing human resource managers to rethink their positions in response to social distancing tactics and an altogether new work environment. Businesses have expedited their shift to an alternative work paradigm on a level never seen before in order to prevent the spread of the corona virus. As in-person collaboration is phased out in favor of e-mail and videoconferencing, hr professionals are required to do difficult jobs under adverse conditions. Not only are human resource specialists concerned about their workers’ health and well-being, but many are also tasked with managing paperwork and providing consolation to thousands of laid-off or suspended workers. The preceding article examined the challenges MNEs face in managing their multinational workforces during tumultuous and unpredictable times, utilizing a variety of organisational examples.
Caligiuri, P., De Cieri, H., Minbaeva, D., Verbeke, A. and Zimmermann, A., 2020. International HRM insights for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for future research and practice.
Collings, D.G. and Isichei, M., 2018. The shifting boundaries of global staffing: Integrating global talent management, alternative forms of international assignments and non-employees into the discussion. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 29(1), pp.165-187.
Dennerlein, J.T., Burke, L., Sabbath, E.L., Williams, J.A., Peters, S.E., Wallace, L., Karapanos, M. and Sorensen, G., 2020. An integrative total worker health framework for keeping workers safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Human factors, 62(5), pp.689-696.
Hegadekatti, K., 2018. Blockchain and Human Resources Management. Available at SSRN 3232203.
Jin, L.J., 2021, February. Methods, Stages and Misunderstandings of Digital Transformation of HR Management. In XV International Conference” Russian Regions in the Focus of Changes”(ICRRFC 2020) (pp. 82-88). Atlantis Press.
Kim, C., Chung, C. and Brewster, C., 2019. Beyond nationality: international experience as a key dimension for subsidiary staffing choices in MNEs. Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research.
Maley, J. and Moeller, M., 2018. Inpatriate managers: Are they being effectively utilized as global talent?. Thunderbird International Business Review, 60(4), pp.647-659.
Ng, S.W.L., Yilmaz, G., Ong, W.L. and Ho, G.W., 2018. One-step activation towards spontaneous etching of hollow and hierarchical porous carbon nanospheres for enhanced pollutant adsorption and energy storage. Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 220, pp.533-541.
Petricevic, O. and Teece, D.J., 2019. The structural reshaping of globalization: Implications for strategic sectors, profiting from innovation, and the multinational enterprise. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(9), pp.1487-1512.
Sarabi, A., Froese, F.J., Chng, D.H. and Meyer, K.E., 2020. Entrepreneurial leadership and MNE subsidiary performance: The moderating role of subsidiary context. International Business Review, 29(3), p.101672.
Schuster, T., Holtbrügge, D. and Engelhard, F., 2019. Knowledge sharing of inpatriates: Empirical evidence from an ability–motivation–opportunity perspective. Employee Relations: The International Journal.
Spurk, D. and Straub, C., 2020. Flexible employment relationships and careers in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sridevi, K.B., 2021. A Comparative Study on Employees Productivity in the Pre and Post Covid Period. Turkish Journal of Computer and Mathematics Education (TURCOMAT), 12(11), pp.4647-4652.
Wan, F., Williamson, P. and Pandit, N.R., 2020. MNE liability of foreignness versus local firm-specific advantages: The case of the Chinese management software industry. International Business Review, 29(1), p.101623.