International hiring is more feasible than ever due to the rising number of companies working remotely. Hiring globally is a smart business move that will pay off, as long as inclusivity is top of mind. Here’s what to consider before hiring international employees as well as tips for making them feel like part of the team.
The Benefits of Hiring Internationally and What to Know Beforehand
There are numerous benefits to hiring internationally. First of all, you are accessing a greater pool of qualified applicants. You are no longer limited to a single continent, let alone a specific city. Second, you can address your diversity, equity, and inclusion goals by hiring individuals from diverse backgrounds. Best of all, the wealth of perspectives these diverse hires bring can help open markets for your company and spur innovation.
But before you hire international employees, you must ensure you have the support and bandwidth to properly support them. This includes everything from administering basic benefits like health care and time off to handling payroll and taxes. Failing to support your international employees from the start can create friction between them and the company. Employees are apt to feel frustrated or unvalued if their basic workplace needs go unaddressed.
You may want to engage an employer of record to help you and your human resources department handle the mechanics of global hiring. By working with an EOR, you can focus on fostering inclusion and leave the paperwork and legalities to the experts. And once you have your new hires on board, here are three ways you can make them feel like they truly belong:
1. Prioritize Clear, Open Communication
Open communication is essential for welcoming any employee into the heart of the team. Nobody wants to think they are being left out of conversations or attending team meetings as an outsider. For international employees, clear, open communication is especially critical to success.
It’s no secret that employees from different countries may be communicating in a second language. While they speak and write in English at work, their native language might be Spanish, for example. Because of this, you may want to emphasize written communications like email and instant messaging over verbal kind. When international employees attend in-person or remote meetings, make an effort to speak clearly and avoid cross-talk and idiomatic language. Visuals like charts and graphics can also be helpful accompaniments to important company-wide messages.
Building trust and establishing a rapport with employees is one way to foster communication. Other tips include meeting regularly with teammates, providing opportunities for listening and asking for feedback. When overseas employees offer suggestions, act on them or at least investigate whether they are feasible to implement. Remember, communication is a two-way street. You can’t dictate information without being open to receiving responses in return.
2. Ignore the Groans and Dare to Hold Team-Building Activities
Did you ever do trust- or team-building activities during college orientation? Were you made to play games with your new classmates in order to learn each other’s names and interests? While you might be tempted to block these memories from your brain, give team-building exercises a chance. The games you awkwardly engaged in then probably led to some great, long-lasting friendships. There’s a reason you bonded over these seemingly silly activities.
Team-building exercises can improve communication, problem-solving, and even conflict resolution. By participating in them, employees come to feel part of the organization and may be more engaged in future workplace conversations. Employees will almost certainly learn something new about their co-workers, which will foster a shared sense of trust.
If you have international employees, chances are your team is working in a remote or hybrid environment. Thanks to the pandemic, there are numerous virtual team-building activities that you can try out. These range from Zoom trivia contests to holiday gift exchanges to happy hours and breakfast clubs. Survey your team for their preferred activities and be sure to schedule the winners well in advance so everyone can plan accordingly. Hold the events during regular working hours — accounting for time zone differences — so everyone can participate without sacrificing personal time.
3. Work to Understand Other Employees’ Cultures
Differences in communication, body language, and even work priorities can differ based on an employee’s culture. What is considered the norm in America may baffle colleagues in European or Asian countries, and vice versa. When employees have a sense of where their teammates are coming from, they are able to collaborate more effectively.
Through cross-cultural training programs, your team can come to understand various differences and work together in an empathetic, caring way. The main purpose of these trainings is to educate all team members on represented cultures, thus allowing everyone to feel seen and understood. As a global company, you want all employees to sense a connection to the larger team. Such programs can help international employees adapt to their work environment while enabling those in the dominant culture to connect with their diverse teammates.
There are plenty of remote learning resources that your company can tap into for these cross-cultural sessions. Many are led by experts who have experience training business leaders and employees across various backgrounds. Work with your HR team to find a training that will best suit your specific needs.
Hiring globally has several advantages and can give you a competitive edge. Yet those advantages can only be realized when all employees feel like they can be themselves at work. No matter where they call home, individuals want to show up to work knowing that their teammates respect them. By keeping these inclusivity practices in mind as your team expands, you’ll promote the well-being of every employee.