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Five Considerations for Building a Global Workforce 

The modern workforce is evolving at a faster rate than ever before. Technology has enabled a virtual workforce, promoting seamless cross-country collaboration in a way that was nearly impossible several years ago.

As organizations become increasingly global, business success hinges on a leader’s ability to surpass and even leverage cultural differences and attract talent beyond U.S. borders.

According to a recent PGi Global Telework Survey, more than 50% of people who telecommute part-time worldwide, said they wanted to increase their remote hours, 79% of employees said they work from home at some point during the week and 60% of remote workers reported they would leave their current job for a full-time remote position at the same pay rate. With an increase in remote workers across the country and the globe, it’s essential to put employee protections in place.

While the nature and scale of employee mobility changes and opportunities to move into an international market grows, the strategy behind building a global workforce can vary greatly depending on where you conduct business. As a company expands globally, it requires skilled workforces from existing and emerging markets.

As the war on talent ensues, companies are sourcing jobs in non-established locations. Like local employees, those working abroad are focused on career development, competitive wages and benefit packages and a proper work-life balance.

According to the 17th annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends, 63% of U.S. multinational employers with global benefits managers agree that “benefits are very important to employee retention” compared to 55% of U.S. domestic-only employers.

While the philosophy of hiring globally feels similar to that of the U.S., there are a range of factors to consider when building an effective workforce that’s consistent and adaptable.

  1. Location

    Location can be everything. It can have a significant impact on the success of an organization. Naturally, it’s important to find a safe and accessible place to operate but you’ll also want to determine the cost of doing business there and get a sense for the local workforce. Finding a location that’s accessible to a population of skilled workers is vital, but you’ll also want to ask: can you remain competitive against other leading employers or industries in the area?

    How do the political and economic conditions impact business? By analyzing global data, you can gain insights into markets and tailor your strategy and budget to meet your company’s needs.

  2. Flexibility

    Having employees in various parts of the country and world requires flexible schedules, not the fixed “9 to 5.” Staying aware of the differing customs and practices of each country or region that could impact the workday is imperative. In the U.S., for example, companies tend to offer less family and vacation time. In order to comply with another country’s laws or customs, you’ll need to be flexible.

    Differing time zones may require a shift in what the U.S. considers a normal work week to start or end at other times and planning how teams communicate and collaborate is crucial to productivity.

    Allowing employees to create their own work schedules can create a more efficient and effective framework for their lives and improve satisfaction and productivity for your business. Catering to and learning about employees’ traditions, language and customs can create a more engaged workforce, while also promoting diversity.

    According to a benefits trends study conducted by MetLife for 2019, 76% of employees and 81% of employers believe everybody wins, when work and life blend and enrich each other.

    Utilizing innovative technologies can keep employees connected, creating opportunities for collaboration, training and learning. In a more connected world, companies are starting to add to their communication methods. Traditionally email and telephone, video conference and cloud collaboration tools are an essential part of supporting a flexible workplace.

  3. Employee Benefits

    In addition to having the right coverage for employees, you should also ensure employees understand and are comfortable using their benefits when outside of the U.S. and that they have adequate support outside of the U.S. when traveling or residing elsewhere.

    Benefits vary greatly country to country, regardless of regional cooperation, such as the European Union. Government and culture can determine how benefits programs are mandated and how employees see them. Creating a concise and well-communicated global benefits strategy can help employees understand management decisions, whether employees are local, mobile or multinational.

    While there are limitations when creating integrated benefits programs, it’s important to develop a strategy based on the current corporate culture that accommodates different cultures and customs to create a more seamless organization at home and abroad.

  4. Accountability

    Instilling an inspiring company vision and consistent work ethic can keep your team on the same page across continents. But simply having them is not enough – you’ll need an effective communication plan. Whether through an employee handbook or a digital training program, there must be a thoughtful strategy behind communicating policies, cement the vision and prioritize goals.

    According to a 2017 Gallup study, highly engaged business units realize 41% lower absenteeism and 17% higher productivity. No matter where your employees work, they should understand the company culture and what’s important, especially if communicated regularly on effective channels. To determine the right lines of communication, pay attention to the channels and mediums your employees are already communicating.

    By outlining and communicating the values, vision and employee expectations, you’re ensuring employees are focused on driving the business in the right direction, no matter where they are in the world.

  5. Employment Practices

    Pick any headline from an international newspaper and you’ll get a small glimpse into the issues facing employers around the globe. It’s essential to understand the risks and obstacles your employees may face when traveling or residing abroad.

    Duty of care, for example, requires employers to take all steps reasonably possible to ensure the health, wellbeing and safety of their employees. Knowing how to protect employees locally and abroad is a growing concern for employers. This includes having an action plan to respond to these cases, not simply taking care of preventative measures.

    In addition to staying compliant with U.S. laws, companies practicing abroad need to stay compliant with local laws and cater to differing hiring practices. Employment laws, negotiations and customs can vary greatly. Understanding these obligations and preventing risks for employees on foreign soil is important for companies in order to minimize legal and reputational risks. Putting a focused global workforce strategy in place can save time, money and resources, while helping mitigate potential threats.

Discover how OneDigital’s Global Benefits Solution can help you develop and enhance a global workforce with a long-term strategy.