Borders aren't boundaries: Hiring talent in a remote work era

How sourcing global talent can fuel your growth

Borders aren't boundaries: Hiring talent in a remote work era

As airports lie empty and the gates of international travel clang shut, some commentators see the world moving inexorably towards a more nationalistic, inward-looking phase. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” says Charles Ferguson, Globalization Partners GM Asia-Pacific.  On the contrary, he believes we are moving into a new era of global expansion – with businesses hiring across borders to propel their growth. And cost is no longer the primary driver for sourcing international talent. It’s a matter of survival.

“Every business is going to need to look outside their own forest for growth. That’s just a fact,” says Ferguson, who’s worked in Asia Pacific for over 30 years in technology, management consulting and human resources.

“More than ever we are going to require not just a particular skill, not just a particular price point, but if you are to survive, you absolutely need diverse points of view and culturally unique perspectives.”

Via its Employer of Record platform, Globalization Partners – which enables companies to hire talent in more than 187 countries - takes on all the administrative burden of overseas hiring such as compliance and payroll. Increasingly this also involves staying abreast of any new social benefits and subsidies to which employees are entitled due to Covid. “We provide the vehicle for the hiring organisation in the local market and we provide the administrative horse-power to ensure the vehicle runs,” says Ferguson.

When a business expands into a new market, it can either take someone from the home office and ‘drop them’ into the country, or it can hire locally. While the former option is challenging  now, hiring locally is by no means a poor substitute; it’s an increasingly desirable strategy in order to properly understand the local culture and operating conditions.

“What works in Sydney doesn’t work in Wellington. Canadians aren’t Americans etc. You need to understand the market you are operating in and the fastest way to do that is to hire talent on the ground to help people adopt and adapt.”

Of course finding and recruiting the talent is one thing; getting them to stay is another. Globalization Partners’ own 2020 research shows that a lack of understanding by organisations around how to manage a growing disparate and diverse global workforce means three out of 10 employees don’t feel a sense of inclusion, leading to staff turnover. The challenges of remote working are real – not least social isolation and the mutual frustration of not having face-to-face supervision. But Ferguson also points to the fact that organisations need to change their mindset at the recruitment stage.

Until recently, the primary drivers for recruitment were factors like experience, competency and tenure. While important, these are not the highest priority or indicators of success in a remote environment, says Ferguson. Instead, ‘softer’ aspects come into play – what he calls the ‘DICE’ model.

DICE stands for Determination, Insight, Curiosity and Engagement – qualities Ferguson believes are the hallmarks of a candidate with staying power.

Determination means the ability to fight for difficult goals, to overcome challenges and bounce back from adversity. Insight is being able to receive myriad streams of information and from them glean insights and new possibilities.  Curiosity equals the constant desire or ability to navigate new experiences and knowledge, and be open to learning and to change. Engagement involves using emotion and logic to communicate persuasively and connect with people despite remote access.

“HR departments need to get a little more into those weeds to understand what this new paradigm entails rather than going through the standard checklist of skills,” says Ferguson.

For Ferguson, the great part about the DICE model is these are universal concepts that transcend gender, race, country, and culture.

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