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Power Up Your Global Payroll Team by Recognizing Cultural Diversity 

By Lina Szaks


A high-powered global payroll team is predicated on two types of skills—hard and soft. The hard skills define the know-how of the payroll profession—delivering accurate paychecks on time, in compliance with the laws of the land. But efficient and effective operations in a global world require an understanding of team-building and cultural awareness as well.

When building a global team with respect to being aware of cultural diversity, the must-dos are simple: you need to allow for cultural and global diversity in the workplace.

People can bring so much to your team because of their individual life experience, heritage, and where they come from. Different perspectives and different ideas allow for better-rounded solutions. When building a global team, a welcoming attitude and an acceptance of cultural and global diversity is your baseline. Open communication is a critical piece. To be successful, training is required. Companies must incorporate in-service workshops on workplace culture, international cultures, and, if the organization is based in the United States, how those cultures differ from the American culture.

There are warning signals indicating the need for a team to build this cultural awareness. Some of these warning signs could be misunderstandings or miscommunication, performance issues, timeliness, and lack of communication or participation.

For example, certain aspects of a business are handled more formally or informally depending upon the culture. Some cultures will make businesses decisions quickly, requiring a handshake confirmation, and will hold up their decision based on this action. Other cultures will require a formal process and a slower, more methodical approach. When perception is different from reality, it is essential to communicate and to train your teams on exactly what the expectations are and how things can be perceived. Clear communication is vital, as everyone needs to be aware of and be comfortable with what is expected of them. This allows for everyone to be in agreement and more empathic to each other.

There are companies that specialize in cultural diversity training that help people become more aware of one another and ultimately work better together. They also help train new team members from different international locations to get acclimated to the different working environments. They help coach on interviewing skills, how to complete a résumé, and how to understand the dos and don’ts within a workplace.

I personally like to partner with companies like this as they can refer great candidates based on their expertise and cultural understanding. When managing my team, I believe that consistent and clear feedback is warranted to ensure that all of my team members not only understand what is required of them but feel comfortable working with their teams, clients, and our global partners to get the job done. Of course, internal training should take place to help ensure your team’s success. However, I think applying practice to real-life examples through coaching and mentoring on a regular basis benefits everyone and provides lasting results.


Cultural Awareness Pitfalls

Of course, bringing light to specific cultural differences can be perceived as having pitfalls. However, it opens people’s eyes to different cultures and people. We are all different. It should not feel like we have to hide that. Being an immigrant to the United States, I find this country to be amazing. It is a melting pot of people with broad backgrounds. I have found the United States to be exceptionally welcoming of differences. As I said before, if you are not open and honest with people, they won’t be able to see your cultural differences. Everyone has so much to offer. If everyone can bring these differences to the table and collaborate, we will become the strongest team we can ever be.


Powering Up Your Global Team

To successfully power up your team, celebrate diversity and cultural awareness. At Celergo, an ADP company, we celebrate all of the holidays around the world centered on our team members’ backgrounds. We encourage team members to wear clothing from their culture and share with us the way they celebrate the holidays. You can develop and maintain an open company culture that welcomes individuals based on their diversity. At Celergo, we also need multiple languages to support our clients. Therefore, we value the diversity within our employee population and align the work based on language expertise. We even reward team members who use their languages for the business. Another way you can celebrate your employees’ cultures is to allow people to take time off based on their countries’ celebrations. This shows our employees just how much we value their cultural backgrounds along with their professional contributions. Recognition, reward, praise, and open communication—those are the critical elements for ongoing cultural awareness.

Cultural Awareness in Performance Evaluations

You can recognize and reward team members for being culturally aware as part of their performance evaluations. When evaluating employees, you can include how they work with different team members and colleagues, how they work with external clients, and how they work with partners. Communication is a standard part of most performance evaluations. How employees communicate overall should include the ability to relate to a diverse audience. Knowing your audience, adapting to communication styles, and being culturally aware are needed skills for an employee who accepts and recognizes cultural diversity.

As mentioned above, celebrations, recognitions, lunches, and rewards help engage, celebrate, and embrace cultural diversity. People are more inclined to share, and these types of events help employees become more aware of cultural differences. In the hiring process, it is essential to understand the attributes that you are looking for in a candidate. If there is a clear understanding of what is required for the position, then the culture diversity should not supersede it; instead, it should become a positive attribute. Coming from a global work environment, I personally prefer hiring a diverse group of team members from different walks of life. If everyone is the same, then no one will challenge, provide context, or help improve. You want diversity as much as possible.

Ways to Teach Cultural Awareness 

There are many ways team members can build an understanding of cultural diversity. From team-building exercises to intercultural workshops, teams will become more aware and open to diversity. This can help put things in perspective and create an understanding of each other and our backgrounds. I have personally conducted a few of these types of activities with my team that have opened their minds to various cultures and the diversity that exists internally and externally within the work community.

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Lina Szaks is VP of Client Services Operations with Celergo, an ADP company, who has more than 10 years of client services experience. She is a specialist in expatriate payrolls and currently oversees all global client services operations by managing Latin America, U.S., and Hungary Service Centers, the Global Service Delivery Team, as well as the Global Implementation Team. Lina is a graduate of DePaul University, Business Management Major with a concentration in HR.