Workforce Mobility in a Global Market
Posted by Andreea Hrab
More and more companies today are employing people from different countries, opening branches all over the world, and working together in a market that is more global than ever before. Technology has made it possible for employees to communicate with one another and with HQ from anywhere in the world. The global economy means there’s a wider talent pool, not demarcated by national borders but open to all, where employees can work for companies based outside of the countries they live in.
Companies are hiring employees from different parts of the world with different skill sets and abilities. They are also mobilizing their workforce and sending people to other countries with the resources, laws, and infrastructure necessary to do the job. Workforce mobility can help cut down operating and overhead costs by allowing employees to work remotely, and increase productivity by improving access to resources.
Although it has been steadily growing in popularity, workforce mobility still has its challenges. Dealing with the legalities of moving workers, relocation costs, and the potential for security breaches are just a few of the factors that may dissuade some companies from exporting or importing talent.
Benefits of Global Workforce Mobility
- Broader talent: Imagine finding people with different expertise, expanded knowledge, and new ways to approach tasks to improve business from all around the world. Having the opportunity to hire people from different areas multiplies your talent pool, allowing your company to hire the best candidates, wherever they may be.
- Cost savings: Workforce mobility can help you save on operating costs, by allowing employees to work remotely. It can also reduce costs by transferring business to areas that have more economical resources, like raw materials or installations. It can also reduce costs in wages, if a specific location has a lower cost of living.
- Increased productivity: Through workforce mobility, you can enhance economic development and improve employee work-life balance, by allowing for remote working options. This leads to increased productivity through a workforce that’s more mobile and working from wherever it’s most convenient for them and the company.
- Improved access: Moving your workforce to a different location can mean better access to resources like raw materials and existing infrastructures, which can prove quite beneficial to your company’s operation and bottom line.
Challenges of Global Workforce Mobility
- Legal issues: An important factor to keep in mind when hiring employees overseas or when transferring employees to other countries is the importance of complying with all legal requirements. Employees must fill out all of the necessary IRS paperwork for tax purposes needed by your company, as well as any payroll or tax information needed in the country where they will reside. They will also have to qualify and apply for visas so they can work abroad.
- Relocation costs: The legal ramifications of workforce mobility may also mean added costs. You may have to hire a lawyer to apply for visas. You might also be responsible for relocation costs – covering the cost for movers, travel, and housing in many cases. These can quickly add up, so make sure they don’t offset the financial benefits of moving your workforce.
- Security: The technological advancements that make workforce mobility possible can also create challenges. Using servers located in countries that are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks or infiltration means that you have to be better prepared by upping your security measures. Physical security can also become a concern if your employees are transferred to a country that’s going through social unrest, for instance.
- Embracing culture: Finally, whether you’re hiring employees in other countries or relocating employees, making sure that they all embrace your company’s culture, and vice versa, can be challenging. It’s the HR department’s responsibility to research work policies in the countries where employees are hired or relocated to, as they are often quite different from one another. Also, make sure to respect local holidays and consider offering language training for employees.
Workforce mobility has been a real game changer for many companies – allowing them to expand their talent pools and customer base around the globe. Like with any business strategy, the pros and cons of hiring foreign talent or mobilizing employees must be weighed to determine whether your business can truly benefit. Has your company dived into the world of workforce mobility? What are some of your motivations or hesitations?
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Andreea is an experienced HR professional, with a specialized background as HR in IT companies. Her areas of expertise are: recruiting, retention and company promotion. She is experienced in designing and implementing policies, procedures, and motivational programs, in coaching new hired/promoted managers and mentoring HR new employees.