In the 2017 Envoy Immigration Trends Survey, nearly 70% of employers indicated that they were not proactively seeking out foreign workers to accomplish business objectives. Despite a 21 point rise in the percentage of companies that expect foreign headcount to increase, it’s clear that firms need to take a more strategic approach to seeking, attracting and hiring these types of workers. Below we examine three key reasons why it’s critical to focus on growing this talent segment, including bridging the skills gap, becoming more competitive and including diverse perspectives.
We know in our personal lives that intent is everything. “Begin with the end in mind,” as Stephen Covey says. Yet we see an overwhelming number of companies that don’t take this approach when it comes to hiring foreign talent.
In the immigration trends study, just 18% of companies said that they proactively source foreign national employees to fill their open positions. By contrast, more than half said they were reactive in their approach, and another 17% admitted to only hiring foreign nationals as a last resort.
In order to get better at this practice, companies can’t just hope for these kinds of workers to appear—they must be intentional about seeking them out and growing that population in the workforce. The arguments below provide ample leverage to position this talent approach as a winning strategy for the business.
Filling the Skills Gap
As business leaders, we are constantly bombarded with news of the skills gap. As the story goes, we have many open positions, but nobody local that is qualified to fill them. Nearly eight out of 10 companies say that having a global workforce allows them to bridge this skills gap, bringing the needs of the business in line with the competencies of the workforce.
Competing on a Global Level
Three-quarters of companies surveyed said that having a global employee base allows them to be more competitive at a higher level. Logically, it makes sense. Technology can level the playing field for companies, but in-house talent can give firms an edge over the competition. Instead of trying to tweak a strategy or purchase a new tool, hiring the right employees can dramatically change a company’s ability to innovate and perform.
Valuable, Diverse Perspectives
Tunnel vision is a challenge many companies face, but foreign workers can help to eliminate that issue. In the research, 73 percent of companies think that hiring foreign nationals brings a much-needed perspective to the business. In addition, this group of workers offers knowledge of specific markets, business practices and cultures outside the United States. Therein lies the true value of diversity—not in tolerating differences, but in seeking out viewpoints from the collective workforce to improve decision-making and performance.
Taken separately, any of these individual pieces would be valuable improvements to a business seeking to improve its position in the market. The arguments made here should be incorporated into a business case to not only tolerate the hiring of foreign workers, but to embrace it. Sourcing global talent is a leading practice for successful organizations, and the key is to take a proactive approach, demonstrating value across the enterprise.
As a former business leader tasked with finding qualified workers, I was always challenged to find local technical talent that was interested in discussing work opportunities. While there are many qualified individuals who would jump at the chance to deliver some value for your business and its customers, they are often not given the chance. As the data shows, these foreign workers are commonly either used as a last resort or are pursued on a reactive basis, neither of which is going to allow a company to truly leverage the value these workers can bring.
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