Pursuing Talent in a Global Workforce

A distributed workforce now also means a global workforce. The benefits are apparent, but what about the negative consequences? 

Pursuing talent in a global workforce was always a consideration for the global business, but the realities of a global pandemic shifted priorities. Remote working benefited some functions over others; technology and innovation teams were some of the first to realise the increases in productivity by having a quieter working environment yet failed to account for the lack of spontaneous collaboration present within the office building. Now, talent have found they can work from anywhere for a business based anywhere, and it's raised fresh questions for the C-Suite on how that talent should be pursued and protected.

With Bloomberg Live’s Sasha Qadri moderating, the speakers of this roundtable include:

  • Helene Dalmar, IT Lead, Cisco
  • Paul Coby, CIO, Johnson Matthey
  • Juan Villamil; CIO, Imperial College
  • David Cadenhead, recent CIO, CityJet


Flexible working trend

The flexible working trend was already on the rise, but it has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses have adopted a work-from-anywhere policy and while this has brought some benefits, there are some significant challenges for HR managers too.

Over the past year, many employers have found themselves managing a global workforce for the first time. For example, some staff who were originally from the EU may have decided to return to their home country ahead of the first national lockdown and have been there ever since.

This issue has since been exacerbated by new Brexit-related business immigration rules which came into force at the end of 2020. In other cases, the prevalence of remote working during the pandemic has opened up new possibilities for businesses to recruit from a global talent pool for the first time, without necessarily needing to bring workers to the UK. Allowing existing workers greater flexibility over where they choose to work has also become commonplace.


New operating models?

These unique circumstances, combined with the need for businesses to transfer many areas of their operations online, have led employers to rethink their operating model and demonstrate greater agility and flexibility than ever before.

In particular, while more business leaders will be considering how to take advantage of the benefits of a global workforce, there are a number of important issues they should bear in mind.

For businesses recruiting overseas workers who will remain in their own country, compliance with local employment regulations is key and may involve additional costs that will need to be factored in.

HR managers should consider how employee entitlements such as sick pay, holiday and termination allowances might differ from those in the UK. Also, advice should be sought on the various risks and obligations related to employment tax and social security matters of having workers permanently based overseas.

In most locations, employers have to register for wage tax and social security withholding purposes. Care should be taken to identify any wider tax implications for the employer such as the risk of inadvertently creating a Permanent Establishment of the company in the overseas jurisdiction. As a result of Brexit, a UK company needs to check if it has the right to establish itself in the relevant sector/market in the EU country of choice, before hiring workers.


Employer considerations

For employers wishing to relocate their employees from other jurisdictions to the UK, right-to-work documents and visas may be required. In particular, for employees relocating from the EU, Brexit has meant that a visa is now required to come to work in the UK, and this must be considered at an early stage in the recruitment process.

Once an employee’s global location has been decided, HR managers should turn their attention towards ensuring that their working environment is fit for purpose. This undoubtedly becomes more challenging when staff are geographically spread and working remotely from their own homes.

The next challenge is how to engage and motivate a workforce that is geographically spread, while creating a single, unified company culture. To achieve this, HR managers and leadership teams will need to find innovative ways of connecting their global team.

This Studio roundtable was created in partnership with Cisco.

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