Have you ever wondered what it would be like to employ workers in multiple countries? This might have once been a far-fetched dream for small businesses, but with evolving technology and new workforce trends, global employment is not only achievable but also advantageous. That’s not to say it doesn’t come with its own set of challenges. Read on to learn the pros and cons of embracing geodiversity — also known as hiring a global workforce.
What is geodiversity?
Although geodiversity is more commonly defined as the combination of the materials, processes and features that make up the Earth, in the HR world it refers to the act of global employment. Businesses that employ workers across multiple geographic locations are practicing geodiversity, whether they realize it or not.
Maintaining a global workforce is a growing employment trend. Although hiring international workers was once a luxury typically afforded to large businesses, smaller companies are realizing the possibility (and upsides) of hiring workers globally.
What are the benefits of having a global workforce?
Hiring and managing employees across multiple states and countries might seem like a daunting feat, but geodiversity comes with many advantages. Here are some of the primary benefits of having a global workforce.
Greater access to top talent
If you only hire employees in one city or state, you’re limited to the job applicants in that area and the applicants who are willing to move there. Conversely, hiring globally gives you access to a larger pool of candidates. By overlooking geographic borders, you can connect with highly skilled workers that you may not have otherwise had the opportunity to hire.
Accessing the best workers is a great way to improve and grow your business, but have you thought about what embracing geodiversity could mean for solving labor shortages? Seeking talent across the globe is a great solution for finding skilled workers when you’re unable to fill a position with candidates in your local area. This can help significantly with some of the hiring challenges many companies face today.
In an increasingly remote world, expanding your business globally has become easier than ever thanks to cloud technology and other tools.
Enhanced company diversity
This one might seem like a given, but it’s important to highlight. When you have a workforce that is made up of employees across different regions, you improve your company’s diversity. For example, a business that employs workers across North America, South America and Asia is far more likely to have a diverse workforce than a company that only employs workers based in rural West Virginia.
Over the past few years, organizations have started paying closer attention to company diversity and inclusion. While some may be doing it simply to improve their brand image and prevent consumer boycotts, others have recognized the true value in facilitating a diverse and inclusive workplace. In any case, a diverse and inclusive workplace is good for business.
Increased innovation and creativity
If you employ workers from only one area, you run the risk of getting limited perspectives and opinions. On the other hand, increasing company diversity, especially across multiple countries, gives your company a wider range of employee perspectives, which can lead to increased creativity and innovation. This type of varied thinking is also great for connecting with more diverse groups of consumers.
Many global employers toy with the idea of compensating workers differently based on each employee’s respective location and cost of living. Depending on where you hire your global workers, you might see cost savings from this strategy. For instance, employing workers in Uganda will likely cost you less than ones who live in San Jose, California.
However, one crucial thing to note here is that regardless of where your employees live or work, you should pay them livable and competitive wages for their area. Hiring workers overseas is not an excuse to shortchange workers.
What are the challenges of having a global workforce?
While there are many benefits to employing a global workforce, it doesn’t come without challenges. Here are some potential drawbacks of geodiversity to keep in mind.
Collaborating across time multiple zones
If you’ve ever tried to work with someone in another state or country, you probably know all too well that timing can be a challenge. When you have multiple work schedules and time zones to contend with, real-time collaboration can be difficult to accomplish. Instead, some workforces rely on asynchronous communication. Advancing technology makes this burden easier to manage, but it is still something to consider if you expect your employees in Chicago, Illinois, to hold frequent virtual meetings with your hires in Bangkok, Thailand.
Plus, leaders who oversee distributed teams may engage in proximity bias — that is, favor staffers who are physically present over those who are based elsewhere. Managers need to proactively ensure remote team members have employment experiences that are equitable with their in-office counterparts. [Businesses should also be mindful of other types of unconscious bias that can unwittingly come up when practicing geodiversity.]
Maintaining a positive, well-defined company culture
If your employees work remotely or across multiple office spaces (let alone across countries), it can be a challenge to maintain a well-defined company culture that keeps employees excited and engaged. While virtual communication has proved helpful in many aspects of business, it’s no secret that dispersed workforces aren’t as conducive to building meaningful company cultures as shared offices are.
Additionally, workers in other countries may have different cultural expectations. If you employ workers in many different countries, it may result in inconsistencies across your company culture. However, as mentioned above, hiring diverse workers is beneficial to business, so as long as you cultivate your workforce strategically and make a concerted effort to foster a strong company culture across various locations, this needn’t be a downside.
Creating fair compensation structures
Creating a fair and competitive employee compensation strategy can be a challenge on its own, even for companies that only have employees in one city or state. Once you throw multiple countries into the mix, establishing global employee compensation can quickly become overwhelming. Not only do you have to consider what is fair or competitive in a specific region, but also what is legally expected of you. When you hire employees in different countries, you are required to follow those countries’ pay laws.
Always factor in how you will facilitate compensation management across various locations before expanding into new regions. This may mean hiring an experienced HR professional or consultant who can help you establish competitive and legally compliant pay structures for each location. [Beware: This salary mistake could cost your business $250,000.]
Navigating various labor laws
If you want to hire global employees, do so with the understanding that you must navigate the various laws and regulations of the countries where your workers reside. Each country has its own set of labor and employment laws that you’re legally required to follow. This can be especially difficult for small businesses that don’t have the resources or staffing to research and comply with labor laws in multiple countries.
According to the Global Workforce Revolution Report, 30 percent of decision-makers consider local labor and tax law compliance to be a major challenge of global employment.
One way to minimize the compliance issues that arise with geodiversity is to outsource your HR compliance to one of the best HR outsourcing services. Many of these vendors are accustomed to managing employment across different counties.
Who should hire a global workforce?
Any company that wants to tap into the benefits of employing a global workforce should consider hiring international staffers. However, since there are several challenges that come with employing workers in different countries, each business should carefully assess whether it can handle the responsibilities and side effects associated with geodiversity. This option won’t be feasible for every enterprise.
Choose wisely when determining from which country you hire international employees. Some places may have regulations that are easier to comply with than others, and some time-zone differences may be simpler to account for. Another thing to consider when hiring globally is job type. For example, collaboration across different time zones can be complex, but some types of jobs don’t require as much direct communication across departments or locations. Businesses with those roles may find hiring candidates regardless of location more ideal.