Prior to last year, flexible working was already becoming more popular. COVID-19 accelerated this trend; with many businesses adopting a work-from-anywhere policy. Staff numbers working from outside the UK increased during the first lockdown, as many decided to return to their home country and have remained there since. Flexible working arrangements put in place have given existing workers greater flexibility over where they choose to work, and they have proved to their bosses that it can be successful. This has introduced new possibilities for recruitment; many employers are now managing a global workforce for the first time without the need to relocate workers to the UK.
Taking advantage of the benefits of a global workforce needs careful consideration, these are some important issues to bear in mind.
Additional costs may be incurred when recruiting globally
Additional costs may arise when businesses recruit workers who are remaining in their home country
,. Local employment regulations need to be considered along with making allowances for employee entitlements such as holiday and sick pay which are likely to differ outside of the UK. With some workers being permanently based overseas, advice should be sought to highlight any risks and obligations that may arise when considering employment tax and social security issues. As a result of Brexit, before hiring workers UK companies need to check if they have the authority to establish themselves in specific markets/sectors in the EU.
Visas and right- to work documents
Right-to-work documents and visas may be required for employers wanting to relocate their employees from other jurisdictions to the UK. Brexit means a work visa is now required for EU nationals relocating to the UK.
Work environment considerations
When the location of an employee has been finalised, making sure their working environment is fit for purpose should be a top priority for HR managers. Appropriate procedures for risk assessments within remote working environments are necessary. Policies need to be adapted to address security and data protection implications.
Future challenges – The next steps.
Creating a unified company culture means motivating and engaging a widely spread workforce. Leadership teams and HR managers will need to connect the global team in innovative ways. New digital technologies are essential for this to work effectively and facilitate efficient team working. Effective communication is even more vital to allow remote workers to flag concerns and access the practical, social and emotional support they need.
When recruiting from a global talent pool and from multiple diverse cultural backgrounds, differences may arise when employees begin working together. From an HR perspective, it is important to ensure policies are in place to ensure that workers know what is expected of them and understand that communication must always be clear, considered and respectful. Investing in employee diversity training and ensuring that the business embraces cultural differences are key to creating a supportive and inclusive workforce where individuals can thrive.
As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, global mobility will open valuable opportunities for recruiters and HR managers, enabling them to hire talented people from a much larger employment pool. Although more planning and consideration is often required when recruiting from overseas, it can deliver tangible business benefits by enriching the skills base and creating a diverse and inclusive culture. By considering legal requirements, making the most of the digital technologies and promoting effective employee communication, HR managers and employers can overcome the challenges involved in managing a global workforce and build a stronger, more diverse business.