Since the global pandemic’s start, Zoom has become our international conference room, and Slack replaced the coffee pot and water cooler as our gathering space. We adapted quickly to remote work – not without a few technical mishaps and wardrobe malfunctions along the way – and learned how to communicate, collaborate and be productive in a virtual work environment. But it takes more than collaboration software to transform a remote-enabled team into a global workforce. Whether we realise it or not, global hiring should be a top priority for companies as we move away from the pandemic and into a business recovery and expansion phase.
The experiment with working from anywhere has gone so well that eighty percent of companies plan to allow it at least part-time after the pandemic, according to research firm Gartner. Workforce management technology has made managing human capital and a distributed workforce so much easier. At the same time, the advantages to business – especially for HR teams at emerging enterprises – are driving more companies to prioritise HR technology.
But, while COVID may have accelerated the adoption and implementation of off-the-shelf remote collaboration tools, global employers must look beyond the ‘work from anywhere’ present. The future of talent acquisition and retention is enabling the ability to ‘work in any way,’ and that starts with building agile, multinational teams with flexible classifications and work styles.
To help build and manage a globally distributed workforce, we’ve developed a strategic framework around the concept of Global Fluency and its three pillars: intellect, acumen and agility. With these pillars in place, your company will be well-positioned and primed to attract and engage the best talent and personnel in other countries.
Intellect: How well do you know the markets you employ in?
Let me ask you this: right now, how would you rate your company’s ability to manage a globally distributed workforce? How about your ability to attract top talent anywhere in the world and accommodate their preferred compensation and working style? How well do you know the markets in which you currently employ? How well do you understand potentially new employment locations?
Before you can even attempt to answer those questions, you need a solid knowledge base encompassing the nuances of employing, managing and running a business in different parts of the world. You also need a sophisticated understanding of local market dynamics, what obstacles you might encounter, and the larger social and political environment of the countries you want to operate in. And, of course, you need to know what kind of workforce management software you are currently working with and how well it can manage an expanding/shifting multinational organisational structure.
That knowledge, or “intellect”, is the first pillar of managing a multinational workforce. Just as you need complete visibility into your organisation before you can assess and respond to its needs, you can’t manage a distributed workforce unless you can see and manage employee information in ways that allow for transparency and scalability as your company grows.
The goal of workforce management technology should be to accommodate and engage all employees from a single platform while allowing for and reconciling differences in employee information across different countries. For example (and this is the simplest case), making sure different currencies are reconciled when doing payroll or keeping track of different regulations for holidays or paid time off.
Acumen: Is your knowledge actionable?
Somewhat surprisingly, 50% of multinational employers are still using spreadsheets and PDFs to move essential data. That’s an alarmingly high number of organisations using slow, largely manual, unpredictable and unsecure methods to transfer data. But that information is critical; Effectiveness as a global employer requires intimate knowledge of the markets in which you are currently employing talent. It also requires an understanding of the markets where you could be hiring talent. But that knowledge means nothing if it can’t be securely and reliably distributed within your organisation and consumed by the right people at the right time.
Getting that information into the hands of your stakeholders, when required, makes the knowledge actionable but requires integrations, the standardisation of data, language and currency conversions, and distribution for accessibility of the information for every country. Your ability to deftly handle and present this data is your “acumen.”
Agility: Are you prepared to react to global shifts?
Access to information alone doesn’t support nimble reactions to market dynamics. The right data used in concert with analysis enables agile responses to market shifts. As an emerging enterprise, there are numerous instances where doing business in another country will require you to be agile with your available information and capabilities. Managing proprietary information across different countries, understanding how employment regulations differ and comparing your labour spend is essential. Those sorts of extra-organisational insights will determine whether you hire in one country instead of another or choose a particular type of employment structure, such as contracting versus working with a global employer of record (EOR). And, bear in mind, you have to engage global talent in a way that works for your business and the talent in market.
When you understand all three aspects of Global Fluency – intellect, acumen and agility – your organisation is making it possible to support your employees’ ability to work in any way, anywhere in the world. And with that level of flexibility, you can compete for, win and retain top talent in any country and become a truly global employer.
Brian Dames is Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Safeguard Global. He has more than 25 years of experience in senior marketing and product roles, developing and executing the marketing strategies for both established and growing organisations. Brian’s expertise helps lead the brand, marketing and various strategic programs that support the growth of Safeguard Global.