3 Essential Steps for Successfully Recruiting and Onboarding International Employees

Your business is growing, and you need qualified people to meet your goals. However, the stateside talent pool hasn’t delivered the specific candidates your team needs to thrive. If this sounds all too familiar, it may be time to expand your hiring horizons across international waters. 

Companies adding global workers can gain a competitive advantage that fosters innovation, broaden skill sets, and increases diversity. Preparing your organization beforehand will lead to a smooth recruiting and onboarding experience for your new farflung employees. 

1. Outline Your Organizational Needs to Target the Right Talent 

Your team may be feeling the pinch of a tight labor market, but while discomfort suggests you need an answer, it doesn’t provide one. Review your recent hiring trends, skills gaps, and growth plans to refine your top hiring requirements. Meet with managers to understand their genuine pain points, not their wish lists. While they may believe their team lacks developers, for example, they actually may need more analysts to better distribute workloads. 

Next, think about how long you expect your international team members to remain on board. If you’re launching a new product line, you may require full-time employees. But if you’re initiating a fixed-duration project that, once complete, will demand less staff, using contractors may be ideal. Partner with an employer of record to help you sort out the details of employment contracts and terms when looking to hire international employees

If you go the contractor route, you may not have to budget for benefits. Generally, you’ll pay a higher rate to international employees if you forgo a benefits package, but many people prefer the flexibility. Discuss this option with your EOR to determine what type of offer will attract the talent you need. 

Outline the specifics of the offer and the terms to ensure your organization is clear about the employment type. Classification standards vary country to country, and penalties for misclassification can be significant. If you plan to set the worker’s hours, dictate processes, and reimburse their expenses, they’ll likely be classified as an employee. No matter your choice, clarify the status in job postings, employment offers, and among your leadership team to ensure compliance with local labor laws.  

2. Develop an Attractive Work Model and Benefits Suite

Once you’ve developed your shortlist of positions, consider how well each role can be done remotely and from different time zones. Your team may have to adjust to an autonomous work model, where work is completed at varying times. If this isn’t a possibility, you’ll need to focus on international hires whose time zones can accommodate your core hours. 

Where asynchronous work is an option, global employees can boost your organization’s productivity by working off-cycle hours. Companies running a contact center, say, could thrive by expanding their available hours before and after the traditional U.S. workday. Consider the benefits that work style and model adjustments can bring to your team and your customers.

Get to know the expectations of your potential hires, too. Just as stateside employees have expectations regarding holidays, health insurance, and paid time off, so do workers in other countries. Some of these may come as a surprise, like the “13th-month” pay practice that is common in India. You’ll have to budget for these country-specific expectations and customize job postings to address them transparently. 

Workplace holidays, breaks, and vacation policies vary more than ever, but even the most flexible employer must take coverage needs into account. Learn about the holidays that are observed in your target hiring countries. If they differ from those observed at your organization, determine how you’ll handle time off, workloads, and time tracking. Back-office teams won’t be as disrupted by schedule discrepancies, but customer-facing teams will likely need more detailed planning to ensure coverage. Review international hiring guides to help you make informed, thoughtful choices. 

3. Update Your Onboarding Curriculum and Processes for Your International Expansion

International hiring may increase your talent pool, but it also creates new challenges when it comes to onboarding. Review your current onboarding and long-term learning and development processes for opportunities to improve them for global employees. English may be widely used around the world, but that doesn’t mean you should assume all potential hires are fluent. Decide what language requirements you may have for international team members and update your materials accordingly. 

First, review your processes and procedures, knowledge bases, and job manuals. Even the most well-developed content will almost inevitably skew domestic, with underlying assumptions about what the reader may already know. Think about what a complete novice may need to learn about your business and incorporate 101-level training into your onboarding. 

Determine what educational materials and tech tools you can deliver to your new hire and when. Some digital files may be safe to distribute via email, but those relating to trade secrets or internal data may require further safeguards. Discuss these intricacies with your IT and cybersecurity experts to determine your requirements. Then, identify the best, most secure way to outfit your new employees with the tech tools and data they need to succeed. 

Prepare your stateside team to welcome international employees, too. Remember, the idea of adding global workers may raise questions or concerns among their U.S. counterparts. Share your international hiring plan with your teams transparently, welcome their feedback, and include them in your strategy. Take a cue from change management experts and include skeptics on the project team, which can boost buy-in. Train team members to serve as mentors for colleagues abroad, helping them build relationships while reinforcing company culture.  

Build a Foundation for Cohesive Teams No Matter Their Location 

Welcoming new employees is always exciting, but blending global hires with domestic colleagues requires a strategic approach. Integrate authentic team-building and relationship-centric opportunities that help team members get to know one another and build trust. Reserve time for social interaction, allowing relationships to form over common experiences and ideals. This process will take time, but the reward of cultivating a cohesive, global team is worth the effort. 

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer

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