As employers respond to the new world of work post-COVID-19, flexibility and adaptability will be more important than ever before in attracting and retaining the best global talent. However, while large organisations may find it easy to allow total home working or at least an afternoon off each Friday in the summer, structuring teams in small businesses to be able to offer similar freedoms can be challenging. So how can small and mid-sized firms best respond to the changing needs of employees and ensure that they can compete for the best employees across the globe?
There is little doubt that the global recruitment market has changed very significantly. While we’ve become accustomed to discussing the specific flexibility requirements of Millennials and Generation Z, the pandemic saw employees across all working generations experience a taste of freedom through remote or hybrid working, and the evidence is that, many of them don’t want to return to the office. Workplaces and workforces are both now different from before COVID-19 changed the world. While top financiers have predicted that the pandemic and the Ukraine war will herald the end of globalisation, talent now appears to be more global than ever, with the prospect of earning a living abroad chiming with the new-found desire to live fuller lives with more leisure time and broader experiences.
What can small and mid-sized firms offer in response? Firstly, think globally, advertising roles on as many job boards as possible and in a wide range of international markets to attract diverse candidates from different areas and sectors. Research the likely expectations of potential future team members in different markets and consider how your company values and practices might play out in other cultures, as what passes for humility in the UK might well be very different in Europe, America and Asia. Think about the particular nationalities and cultures already within your organisation and key markets and take opportunities to translate cultural differences. Can you steal an edge on the competition by recruiting in markets and segments where they are not looking? Are your policies and practices on equality and diversity honed to not only meet changing regulatory requirements and expectations but also attract the very best diverse talent?
Communicate vigorously about all the flexibility and well-being benefits that are already part of your offering. Your flexible working plan for new mothers, for instance, may compare favourably with what is on offer in potential employee’s home markets. Companies can also really stand out at the moment by having great benefits. But be very transparent about salaries and bonuses so you don’t waste your and candidates’ time with poor matches in terms of expectations.
Highly practical employment issues also arise when recruiting across international markets. Become au fait with official requirements, such as visa applications and sponsorship of employees, which requires a licence obtainable from government websites. The rules vary widely from nation to nation, so we recommend specialist support in this area.
Keeping international team members remote does not side-step laws and regulation. If companies are taking on employees as remote members of staff, they will still need to set them up on the payroll, as well as deal with taxes relating to their country. Employment law also differs greatly across the world and employers will need to decide whether their recruit falls within their own UK law, or the laws of the country they are based in. Seek specialist legal advice on navigating these issues, plus matters including maternity and paternity rights.
It is also well worth reviewing your human resources operations. HR has become essential to help companies focus on the people and culture within their organisations. Can you improve your onboarding or recruitment processes or make other changes to further improve your work culture? Take candidates’ feedback and analyse exit interviews to make sure you are getting it right.
Finally, make sure you are getting the right backing. While outsourced HR support can be expensive for small businesses, CharlieHR offers a flexible and affordable virtual HR platform that can track and record all your employee documents in one place and makes it much easier to schedule holidays and keep records. Now that you’re competing globally for the best talent, you’re going to need all the help you can get.
Ben Gateley is CEO and Co-Founder of CharlieHR, a service which offers on-demand HR advice and HR software for thousands of UK SMEs.