If global expansion is part of your business strategy, there are a number of areas to consider while updating your talent agenda. Talent can be recruited, developed and retained with a proactive strategy, but it can still be a challenge to find outstanding talent when expanding into a new market or region even when you have a solid strategy to follow. Finding an optimal balance between your strategic expansion and growth, operational execution, and company culture is key to ensuring success globally. Keep these critical takeaways in mind while making the decision to expand globally.
A good practice would be to start with the future in mind— your talent agenda should be tightly aligned with your business strategy. You will need to assess your current expansion plans, both short and long-term within those markets where you are considering an expansion. Not only do you have to consider the type of roles and level of experience that is required to execute the expansion, but also how to grow and develop the talent brought on-board with a good strategy for succession planning.
Today, many organisations label themselves as a global company, where in fact many of them function more as a confederation of local entities. Hence, identifying, developing, engaging, and retaining local talent will be important to a company’s success. Your business strategy will impact your talent needs, however, the local talent market will also impact your business strategy. Do your local talent market research. There is very little point in having a grand expansion plan with an equally grand talent agenda in a location where there are no or very few people with the experience and skills required to execute your expansion. The two go hand in hand.
Some of the regional and local differences to consider are; the size of the population, educational systems, culture, language, employment legislations and risk factors. Identifying and mapping out the talent market today in different regions will therefore also impact your talent agenda. Other factors to consider are technology. The transformational impact that the internet and social media have had on working practices will continue and will most likely change the landscape of the skills and labour market as we know it today. Another aspect affecting the talent landscape includes governmental concerns over several areas such as higher education or infrastructure.
Taking all of these factors into account when planning might seem like a mammoth task but many companies today use external consulting expertise or their current recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider to ensure their strategy is well planned and achievable.
Understanding how to tailor your recruitment strategy within the new region(s) is key. As well as ensuring you know how to maintain your company culture and employee engagement abroad. These are some of the concepts that many companies are coming to grips with when expanding to new regions.
Let’s look at some of the barriers and differences to keep in mind:
Sometimes language can be an initial barrier, but in today’s globalised world, you will find quite often that people speak at least one of the major languages in the world – Mandarin, Spanish, English, Hindi, and Arabic. If you speak one of these languages or employee individuals who do—you’re opening your talent pool up by countless amounts of talent. It’s important to distinguish between individuals who are native and who are fluent.
A native speaker will often presume that a fluent speaker will understand the same meaning of a phrase as themselves. This is not necessarily the case. So when you prepare your phrasing around your company values and culture, be aware that this can be interpreted in a different way. This is another area where an organisation with a good agile RPO provider can overcome such a challenge, providing solutions with local native speaking talent specialists who not only speak the language but also understand the local culture.
“Culture is the pattern of taken-for-granted assumptions about how a given collection of people should think, act, and feel as they go about their daily affairs” -Joynt & Warner.
Culture can also be a barrier at times. Different cultures may have an alternate meaning of words, behaviours and gestures. This will not only affect the way you communicate your company values and culture but also how people will react when being approached by your organisation about a new opportunity. There are many countries where personal networks are the only groups trusted and being approached by a stranger (which you will be in this instance) might raise a skeptical or mistrusted response. Understanding these local cultural behaviour nuances will be key for your strategy to find and hire people. Again, your RPO provider can help you overcome some of these cultural barriers.
Are you planning to expand in a region with high risk? If so, then have you considered the type of risk factors that can impact your expansion and talent development locally? Do you know the local area enough to understand the personal risks that individuals will have to endure on a daily basis, for example, difficulties with work commute? Corruption is prevalent in some regions - Has this been considered and factored in?
How you tailor your recruitment strategy for new regions will very much depend on the local market that you are looking to expand into. As mentioned above, there are many variables to consider and it is worth mentioning again that doing your research will be vital.
Maintaining company culture through foreign offices that are across different time zones and geographical locations can be challenging. Technology can be a great enabler to ensure a deeper understanding and collaboration in meetings utilising video conferencing. Perhaps a cross-cultural competence is one of the main key skills of exceptional talent that you want to attract and develop to ensure that the expansion is viable over time?
Aside from recognising the similarities in individuals and cultures across different regions, you should also try to understand your company’s cultural fit locally. Talent in different regions will have different career and employment objectives due to, not only, culturally specific factors but also due to legislative and regulatory factors.
How will you reach the talent you are looking for? Which or what type of channel will return optimal response for the specific region? Is the region you are expanding into “hooked up” on LinkedIn? Are they using a regional social network? Or perhaps the social media penetration is not as deep? What other media are available?
These are only some of the questions you should be asking and taking into account when updating your talent agenda for a global expansion. Ensure you consider these key takeaways, keep up with global employment trends and do plenty of research while making the decision to expand globally.
Thereza is a Recruitment Operations Manager at WilsonHCG overseeing the day to day operations of the RPO service delivery for one of its larger clients in Europe. Senior Recruitment professional with over 10 years experience of permanent and temporary recruitment within RPO organisations, as an In-House Recruitment Manager as well as within Agency environment. A result driven Talent Acquisition and Operational Manager focussed on efficient talent solutions, best practices and cost effectiveness. Born in Sweden, raised in Sweden, Nigeria and Romania, she now lives in the UK. In her spare time she enjoys travelling.