Chief Executive Officer at Safeguard Global.
Increasingly, companies are adapting to fast-paced changes in the workplace brought about by COVID-19, the Great Reshuffle and the ongoing labor shortage and are filling talent gaps by hiring from all over the world.
If this describes your company, congratulations. You deserve kudos for being resourceful and creative during one of the greatest workforce upheavals we have seen in our lifetime. I know, from helping hundreds of companies over the years, that deciding whether to recruit and hire internationally is daunting; without the right planning, the process can be fraught with complications, compliance issues and unexpected challenges.
Companies often hire globally only to realize they haven’t thought about how their organization will function now that it spans multiple time zones, languages, employment laws and cultural norms. Many business leaders go to great lengths to stand up a global workforce only to nervously wonder: How do we ensure our newly global teams are successful?
What should come next is a workplace where everyone is on the same page, even if they work in different parts of the world. Employees must share the same goals, even if they don’t share the same work hours or native language. Employers must embrace unique work styles and create policies that support employees’ needs. This includes adopting people-centric policies that are built to adapt over time as employee sentiment and labor markets evolve.
Making this happen is not simple. But the good news is, for companies ready to tear up the old playbook and fully embrace new ways of working to remain competitive, successfully implementing a global hiring approach is doable. Here’s how:
Rethink workplace policies.
I’ve seen many companies hire globally with varying degrees of success. The greatest challenges most often result from attempting to repurpose policies and norms that work in the home market in new markets. The companies that succeed in managing a thriving global workforce are those that craft globally cohesive but locally tailored workplace policies from the ground up.
But what is an HR leader to do if they are developing policies for employees in eight countries and each of these nations has a different policy for employee benefits? You cannot graft your current policy onto workers in eight different countries (employment legislation will dictate different requirements in each country). Instead, you need to create a new global policy and then tailor it to meet the requirements of each of the other countries you have workers in.
For example, leave policies, such as vacation, sick and parental leave, differ widely across the world. If you have employees in eight nations, look at the policies of those nations and come up with a baseline policy that can work for all employees. HR should determine the policy that will be competitive in-market—in each market. This identifies your standard of leave that places your company in a competitive position and informs your global policy. Once that global policy is set, you can tailor the standard to accommodate differing legal requirements accordingly.
Creating global policies means putting aside home-market-centric points of view and instead embracing the opportunity to craft new, people-centric global policies.
Rethink the technology stack.
Establishing a cohesive culture is the key to success for global teams. Companies often underinvest in new collaboration tools when they should be doing the opposite. Success in managing a global workforce depends upon having the right technology, so investing in it is—literally—an investment in your company’s future.
Spreadsheets may have worked well when everyone was on the same local network, but that ship has sailed with a fully distributed workforce. Your teams’ work patterns are changing, and there are tools available today that help people collaborate in a highly effective manner no matter where and when they work.
Implementing asynchronous communication tools like Miro whiteboards and Microsoft Teams is one reason why my company’s engineering team, which is distributed across Africa, Latin America and Singapore, says it has never found communication and collaboration among teammates so easy. In fact, a recent PwC survey found that 78% of CEOs believe the implementation of remote collaboration tools is an enduring shift that has lasted beyond Covid-19.
Having the right technologies is one of the reasons why, of the 80 engineers we have hired in the past nine months, we have only lost one. Since we have implemented a global-first playbook, wherever they are, our engineers feel connected to one another—and to our mission.
Rethink workplace culture.
Just as new global policies are necessary for success, so is the understanding that the global culture will change. Gone are the days when in-office culture was all about casual Fridays, karaoke and team ping pong tournaments. And now, if you want fully engaged employees, culture will matter even more. What’s important is the willingness to cultivate and nurture your culture by writing an entirely new playbook and adopting a global-first mindset.
Here are a few great things I have seen companies do to show employees that wherever they are working, they are part of a supportive culture:
• Offering new hires a full week of salary before they arrive on day one
• Sponsoring regional in-person get-togethers for teams—everywhere, not just where HQ is located
• Stacking work emails for various time zones
Initiatives like these show employees they matter, which is an important building block of a supportive, people-centric company culture. What’s important is realizing that creating culture will take time, effort and creativity—and then investing in all three.
Whether your company is leveraging the opportunity to hire from anywhere in the world or expanding overseas, it is an exciting time for any business. But managing a global workforce has never been simple. However, companies that write a new playbook can do the seemingly impossible: create an environment that ensures their diverse global workforce can be successful and focused on the same mission and goals.
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