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Real facts of Motivating employees around the world by recognizing culture

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Michael Losey, president and CEO of SHRM, has pointed out that the lack of global experience among HR executives could have profound implications as U.S. companies head into the new global business era.

As he stated it: “HR policies will be influenced more and more by conditions in other countries and cultures. HR managers will need to sensitize themselves and their organizations to the cultural and business practices of other nations.”

Understanding what motivates employees in different cultures is essential to the success of U.S. corporations doing business globally.

The following are some of the issues companies should look at when considering ways to motivate, recognize, and reward employees in different cultures.

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The Korean government has a long tradition of prize and discipline incentive systems to enhance productivity.

Few group incentives are used. Employees with service of over 20 years can receive a special award of 10 days’ paid leave.

Asia and the Middle East

Teaching is considered the most important thing a person can do.

The manager’s role is seen as that of a teacher and facilitator someone who helps those around him learn. For instance, in Asian corporations, particularly in Japan, the managers are always present when a subordinate is being trained.

This indicates that the manager believes the learning is important. In these cultures, it is important for an employee to be seen as a whole person-with needs beyond professional and technical ones. This is also true for Africa.


Management is based on the premise that the individual is willing and able to do a good job.

A Swedish manager is generally thought of as a coach who motivates staff, leads employees through of as a coach who motivates staff, leads employees through principles of cooperation and agreement, and is a good listener.

Getting emotional when discussing a problem is considered inappropriate. All employees have the freedom to make decisions and solve unexpected problems without asking for permission from superiors.

Sweden has a high rate of employed women and a reputation for having a high ratio of family-friendly men who are seeking a better integration of work and family. Therefore, there is a broad acceptance of home-based telework.


Individual recognition programs have not worked well because Japan has a collectivist culture and workers do not want to be conspicuous.

Individual pay for performance is considered potentially disruptive to pleasant working relationships and is not used.

Instead, year-end bonuses are given based on loyalty, years of service, and one’s family situation.

Team awards have been effective-some include salary increases and an allowance system as incentives for outstanding performance.


Money is the most important factor in determining whether a Russian will take and keep a job-but it is not the only one.

Russians want benefits such as pension plans, health care, regular performance reviews- and lunch. In Soviet times, most offices had a cafeteria, which offered a modest midday meal for a pittance.


Therefore, when our business is expanding worldwide, we have to understand their local culture and regulations in order to optimize the motivations of employees.

The above information is from online/offline resources.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position or stand of EasyWork Asia Sdn Bhd.

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