In a world where more and more companies are expanding and hiring internationally, more companies find themselves with international employees and they're not so sure how to manage them. It comes with all kinds of new challenges. Is there enough face time? How do you ensure they're doing their work? Are there any laws and policies you need to learn? It can be a truly overwhelming experience for any business expanding into a global market, but it doesn't have to be. Luckily there are tried and true methods to keep not just your employees happy, but your company running at peak efficiency too.
International employees often complain that they don't get enough face time, or that management feels impersonal and distant. Without meetings, conferences and even socialization with other workers, it can be hard to feel as invested in the company as they'd like. For companies where this goes unaddressed, the turnover rate can be incredibly high and that's more expensive than you think.
So what can you do? No one likes to feel out of the loop. Consider hiring a PEO or a local manager to keep an eye on your workers, offering them advice and direction. With a supervisor they can turn to, they don't have to go without guidance and support—and they're bound to feel more comfortable, happier and feel a great deal safer. Because of a physical absence, being so far away from the head office, it's best to manage HR situations in a similar manner. Interviews, terminations, and negotiations can be handled by your PEO in a more sensitive manner than any email could manage.
Communication is the key to most things in life, and it's no different in the world of business. Be sure to standardize your communication everywhere—for both local workers and international workers. If your international employees are using a completely different system (a different messaging tool, email system, software), they can often feel out of the loop and unheard. Technical problems can also arise from this mixing of tools. Be sure to standardize your communication methods to make this a smoother process.
Distance and time zones are a factor in communication too—it's important to treat your international workers like your local workers, and by doing so, you foster trust and confidence in them. Consider scheduling a phone meeting or a video chat at regular intervals, even if it's only for a 5-minute check-in, to remind them that they are important members of the team.
Be Aware of Laws and Regulations
Knowledge of the laws in the country you operate in is always important, but consider how much of them will affect your employees. With international workers, there's often a whole other set of laws and regulations to abide by. Consider local labour laws, which will change how you pay them, hire them and terminate them. They may also dictate how long your employees can work and for how much money. It will also change what is required of you in terms of benefits, insurance, health and safety, overtime and holiday pay and any reimbursements required.
When paying international employees, you also have to keep in mind local taxes and payroll laws within the country and be sure that you've adjusted accordingly. Violations in this area can be costly for companies and look very bad to international workers as well. As long as you’re compliant, everyone is happy.
It's also a good idea to make yourself familiar with the cultural business practices of the country your employees work in, and to use those as a guide for how you communicate and work together. It not only shows respect, but it's an excellent way to connect with them on a more personal level and maintain their comfort.