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Cultivating a Global Team: Key Considerations for Scaling Organizations

As HR practitioners we must think more strategically to position our organizations to successfully navigate the new reality of work. In this blog, we’ll explore global hiring strategies as an option: who should consider one, how to build one, and how to sustain an engaged global team once assembled.

Casey Bailiey
Global Head of People at Deel
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Jan 17, 2023
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Last updated on Jan 16, 2023

The pandemic forced organizations to see and experience how effective people can be in a remote work environment across many industries. Since then, more organizations have tasked their HR teams to source and hire talent with a reduced budget and in new or different parts of the world from past recruitment plans. 

From 2022 we are seeing organizations consider a broader recruitment and hiring strategy overall. HR Brew polled readers and found that 54% of them operated in two or more countries. At Deel, based on 150,000+ contracts and agreements, we saw global hiring grow triple digits across all major geographies in 2022. 

As HR practitioners, we must think more strategically to position our organizations to successfully navigate the new reality of work. In this blog, we’ll explore global hiring strategies as an option: who should consider one, how to build one, and how to sustain an engaged global team once assembled. 

Determining the right strategy for your organization

Global teams aren’t new, but the technology available to allow global team management on a single platform is.  That technology is making it easier and more user friendly to hire globally. In 2023 I think we will see HR teams look to consolidate their HR technology stack, but also look for technology that is smart - meaning, how does my HR technology serve up knowledge to allow me to compliantly set up and manage my workforce independent of where they sit around the world. 

As for who might consider leveraging the opportunities of hiring globally, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Building an organization, building a culture, and building a team go hand in hand, and the recruitment strategy must be aligned to the business needs, and in turn, with the culture of today or what you want it to be tomorrow. Meaning, not all organizations will be successful hiring globally, not because they cannot attract and hire the talent, but because the culture of the organization is not globally supportive. This could be stemming from executive leadership to the management team to the cultural fit of team members hired to lack of technology or resources to make a global team effective. 

Some organizations, like Deel, opt to scale globally from the start. We hired across borders to enable access to the best talent and to put people close to the customers and countries they build for and support if applicable. Other organizations may opt for an office-based location strategy or hiring within a specific region or time zone based on their customers and business  or hiring in specific geographies based on cost and talent mix. There are many ways to tackle a recruitment and hiring strategy, but an organization has to understand their values, culture, and what they are solving for with their headcount plan and budget. 

From 2022 we know that we must be flexible and meet people where they are, and talent has spoken. They desire to be remote or have the flexibility to work more remotely than they did pre-pandemic. So, through our hiring strategy, workforce investments, policies and programs, and budget we have to be more flexible and creative as a result. 

Building a global strategy

If flexing to, or continuing to invest in, a global strategy (hiring in more than one geography) makes sense for you then you must think about the strategy holistically as it does not only impact sourcing and recruitment. It impacts almost every facet of your HR team - technology, budget, total rewards, development and training to include onboarding, support, talent acquisition, and culture. 

Yes, if you are intentional with your sourcing and hiring strategy you can maintain your talent bar and hire around the globe very strong talent at all price points. Yes, you must work backwards and consider the technology you have to support global and/or remote work successfully, data privacy and security of a remote environment, internal communication and change management plans, values and characteristics to hire for a cultural fit in a remote or global workforce, your compensation philosophy and how you will approach global benefits and perks, people operations support across time zones, onboarding across time zones, sourcing candidates locally versus regionally versus globally, meeting compliance standards for the places and types of workers you are hiring in any given place, etc. 

It can feel overwhelming and complex to think about venturing into remote or global work, but many in our community thinking about the future of work or whose organizations simply required global talent even before the pandemic have provided volumes of information on various points in the journey to reference. For example, we grew Deel from 50 people in 2021 to 2000 people in 100 countries by 2022. We scoured resources relating to global compensation practices, we delivered Salary Insights from Deel customers to understand pay points for various types of work across over 100 different countries, and we built our first compensation structure internally in 2022. Projects like these must be undertaken and considered specifically when moving to a global strategy for the first time and then iterated on as you consider market conditions and competition for talent. 

Another key point that is crucial to the success of a global workforce is identifying your strategy of leadership, management and communication. Will you have regional or location based management or global, remote management? Leaders and managers but be bought in, or disagree and commit, to the remote strategy as they and their style contribute massively to the experience of the remote team. So think intentionally about the education, support, expectation setting and training required for your leadership and management teams, and who you hire in those roles moving forward, as you embark on a global strategy. 

Engaging a global team

Once assembled, a global team requires the same intentionality as other teams in regards to managing the team member life cycle from onboarding to assimilating to performance feedback and development to changes to role such as promotion or change in scope and on to the end of the engagement with your organization. 

Thinking strategically about how you want the culture to unfold and where you want to lean in to enhance and support the journey is key. We hire heavily in areas where people can gather and connect in person, but also serve 90 other countries. This means that from our total rewards strategy to our technology stack we are thinking about how to proactively connect and engage a global team while being transparent about our global versus local policies for compliance. 

People feel engaged and connected to you as an organization when they feel connected and engaged with the people, to include their manager, leadership, cross functional partners, and peers they connect with across various interest groups.

Whatever choices you make on pay, benefits, and perks for your workforce it’s important to educate, communicate, and provide access to your programs and connect the dots for people on why you do what you do. There are many ways to tackle managing HR in a global environment and communication is your friend in bringing the story together for applicants to new hires to incumbents. 

Of course a benefit to a global hiring strategy is the opportunity for more diversification in the cost of talent. Not to say you relinquish your bar for talent or finding the best cultural values fit for your organization, but the opportunity to meet budget expectations and be more frugal is there as you identify where you can maintain parity for talent at a lower salary expectation based on the local market. Pay specifically is an area that organizations will take different approaches with from a global to a regional to a localized pay philosophy, it’s important to identify what is important to your organization, such as pay parity, and then build a program around it that is defensible and you would not mind sharing with potential applicants and your current team. 

Whilst HR technology is still catching up with the global future of work, thinking about how your current or future stack can support you and your endeavors with a global team is important. You will need a source of truth for your workforce data - who do you employ or contract with, where are they located, what is their status of work and how do you manage them compliantly through their life cycle with you are things to consider. 

Look for the best tools within your budget that you can build or modify to meet your needs while integrating with your ancillary tools like performance, engagement, workforce planning, etc. We need intelligent and flexible technology as we move to the future. Your technology makes a significant difference for you and your team, as well as for your closest partners in Finance and IT, but also the user experience is important for ongoing engagement of the team. HR technology helps you build and sustain trust with your team members by showing them you have accurate data about their work engagement with you, have their history of progression and performance, and understand and apply the compliance requirements for them based on their employment status and country. So take special care as you make selections and consider both the administrative and user experience.

Sustaining a global team

Deel is only at the early stages of scaling and sustaining a global team as we moved beyond 2,000 team members as of January 1st 2023. One of our biggest learnings from 2022 as an organization is that we should have encouraged investment in the HR function earlier (earlier than we would have thought) so the function could grow alongside and at pace with the business. Building a people strategy that will be impactful for your organization is reliant on knowing the business strategy and goals. 

We also lean heavily into data and experience. We did not completely grasp the complexity of how we want to hire and build a global workforce, but as we hired a new person in a new country we were forced to learn. Just as our product offers, we hire people as contractors and employees dependent on the work and the location. I recommend thinking about what you hope to accomplish, what expertise you have internally you can leverage on your HR or other teams, and what is important to you from a vendor or partner so you can be very clear in your request for proposals and product demonstrations in the market. 

Once your knowledge and tools are in place, there are no bounds in what you can do and build to support your workforce. You will be able to unlock future programs, scale and iterate alongside your business and hiring and other workforce strategies. 

What we are seeing in trends and data across our customers and our own internal team area available in Deel’s resource center. Join the community and share what you are doing and how you are thinking global!

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