Need to know: regional headcount

How many people work in each of the main regions? How has this changed over the past year?

Understanding how many people work in each region is basic information, but it’s vital that you know it if you are to understand the structure and reach of your company.

If your company is international, it is all the more important, as it’s incredibly useful to know what the relative size of your company is in different parts of the globe. For example, this might mean parts of the company in different countries are differently affected by economic changes, particularly in these uncertain times. It will mean some parts of the organisation may be growing while others are reducing their scope.

Having an understanding about how this figure has changed over the past year means you can begin to gain an insight into how these changes have happened in relation to the growth strategy of the company. Understanding which regions are growing and which are decreasing because of the business plan, rather than simply assuming that all changes are in response to the current economy, will give you a better grip on how best to plan for those changes.

And depending on what the changes are, you’ll know whether the strategy is working in those different areas. So if the strategy is to grow in China and you only have two people, you’re probably not doing very well. Understanding this will help you to determine your own priorities within the HR department.

Aside from economics, you’ll benefit immensely from knowing what impact the local culture might be having on your policies and approaches to initiatives. Understanding the relative differences in the number of employees means you are aware of any cultural differences, and can plan for how you attract and hire people, how you keep people, what benefits to offer, what initiatives are likely to work and which will be more of a challenge. All this will mean you’ll be able to position initiatives more clearly and accurately because you’ll understand more about the strategy of the organisation.

And it is also useful for you to understand the relative size of your competition so that you can get a handle on what their strategy is against the different regions, then formulate your own strategy in response.

Jan Hills, partner, Orion Partners

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