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Great post. The truth of this post goes beyond these traditional compensation and benefit packages, too. Chuck, you say: "Choosing to operate under the guidance of US employment law and US-based corporate practices is a failed strategy. Maintaining such a US focus (usually for ease of administration) will bring you grief; grief from your employees, from those you hope to hire, and most of all from local governments whose laws you have ignored or bypassed."

This couldn't be more true than in employee recognition practices as well. Many global companies we work with today stumbled and failed miserably in past efforts to offer a single global recognition program when relying on a provider or solution based on US practices and expectations. The common example is sending the traditional 10 year anniversary clock or watch to an employee in China (where that signifies death).

On a much broader scale, expectations for recognition vary drastically by culture -- both geographic and generational. If you're establishing your employee recognition practices based on the desires of your generation and your culture, you will insult a vast majority of employees in other parts of the world and from other generations -- certainly not the goal with a positive program such as recognition. This international insult can have long lasting repercussions.

Your point on violating local law is also valid -- too many well meaning HR managers have put their companies at risk by violating local taxation and compliance law they weren't even aware of.

I was nodding my head as I read your comments on international recognition programs. My company once implemented a global rewards & recognition program - with processes virtually the same through 20+ countries. What a flaming failure!

We had employees willing to take the money, but not the recognition. They didn't want their co-workers to know about it! Then we had others who objected on principle to an individual award - as they believed it was the team that was successful. And the complaints went on and on.

At the end of the day we couldn't even give away the money allocated for the program, because we had so few takers outside the US. A real eye-opener about the diversity of opinion, culture and working environment!

Interesting article Chuck, how true we don't know what will offend another culture in any environment...ask the question and watch the body language for answers if you have the opportunity with verbal communication and interaction. I've worked with a diverse group of employees both here and in Europe and learned a lot!

A real eye-opener in Milwaukee - a Survey just published yesterday for the "TOP 100 Workplaces" lists 'Direction' at the top of the importance list - pay and benefits are at the bottom!

These days it's worthwhile to remind folks that benefits are more a commodity than ever, and pay remains a dissatisfier, not much of a true motivator.

Most companies of any size offer a similar package of benefits these days, so choosing an employer on the basis of benefit coverage seems a disappearing trend.

Similarly, employees complain about pay when there isn't enough for their perception of self-worth. Increasing that amount may stop the complaining, but doesn't swing attitudes toward the positive. Complaints just focus on different wants. Paying extra (beyond average or "competitive") doesn't increase performance.

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