In today’s ‘globalized’ world, it is no longer practical or desirable for a company’s workforce to be homogenous.
If your staff reflects a certain market segmentation, for example, heterosexual, middle-aged, white Christian American males, then your company’s insights and perspectives will be largely limited to and by that same market segmentation.
Any company that is hoping to survive must develop a strategy that simultaneously addresses both growth and adaptation to the ever-fluctuating economy. For many of these businesses the answer is and should be foreign talent. Despite the anti-immigration sentiments flaring up throughout the political world, the business world seems to understand its dependence on global talent. In fact, a national survey conducted by Harris Poll shows that the number of employers who believe sourcing foreign national employees is important to their company’s talent acquisition strategy has increased five percent over the last year to 91%. Employers don’t just want to hire global talent, they are planning on it. Fifty-five percent of employers expect their foreign national headcount to increase over the next year.
While most will agree that top global talent is becoming increasingly coveted and competitive, many companies struggle with the execution of recruiting and retention of foreign nationals. In spite of the legal barriers that many fear are shrinking global talent pools, American companies can take several steps internally to become more appealing to the best and brightest from abroad.
1. Develop a Strong Mentoring Program
Connect current potential employees with other employees who can share their experiences and act as mentors. Helping new hires make social connections quickly is perhaps the best way of easing the pains of transition. According to a report by Forrester Research, business mentoring not only provides coaching, sharing, and knowledge transfer, but saves companies money, reduces turnover, builds leadership, and grows talent. It is no coincidence that over 70% of Fortune 500 companies have formal mentoring programs. Perhaps the most pressing benefit of mentoring for international employees is the assistance with adapting to both the company and American culture.
2. Offer Clear and Generous Relocation Benefits
For anyone thinking about relocating, family-specific circumstances and needs must considered: Where are the best neighborhoods? What is the reputation of the local school district? Will my spouse acclimate to the weather? These are the sorts of concerns that showed up in BRGS’ survey of ‘Global Mobility Trends’ as the most important factors for an employee’s commitment and engagement. It makes sense that the seriousness of these questions would only be amplified with the distance between the employee’s prior home and new office. Single employees face similar moving stresses and any uncertainty that can be mitigated by the company will be met with relief, gratitude, and even the early seeds of company loyalty. As of 2017, 83% of employers offer immigration-related perks when recruiting on which 38% of employers spend over $16,000.
3. Develop Policies that Protect Cultural Diversity
When companies are recruiting foreign talent, they should be able to point to specific resources and programs that specifically support new international hires. These can include regular cultural sensitivity trainings, partnership or supplier criteria based on diversity and inclusion, or employer resource groups for various communities.
4. Offer Administrative Assistance
Companies should do everything in their power to cut through the bureaucratic tape for new international hires. From work visas to Social Security documentation, the paperwork alone can be daunting to someone considering the move to the U.S. A graduate student from China recently found out that the American company she is interning for would not provide legal aid with sponsorship if she were to get a full-time job offer. The inconvenience and additional expense (estimated to be around $4,000) of figuring out that process on her own is a big enough deterrent that she says she would reject the offer. The act of simplifying the process cannot be underestimated- it is a corner (and a cost) that simply cannot be cut.