Talent management has been a hot topic for a while now. Whether it’s about acquisition, development, or retention, organizations have programs dedicated to this aspect of workforce management. However, there is one issue present in many companies: the focus on employees who work in a particular place, usually the headquarters.
Sure, many resources (primarily human) needed for such programs are concentrated around the main office, but companies miss out on a lot of employee potential by not expanding them. Instead, talent management should span the entire organization.
International employees face more challenges
Global organizations pride themselves on being diverse and inclusive. They often put this in the mission statement and company values. However, the reality of workers in different countries may not reflect these values.
Frequently, the cultural differences and language barriers make it hard for them to adjust and truly become part of their teams.
Some countries still operate under rigorous top to bottom hierarchies, and they are used to being micromanaged at every step. Asking them to be proactive and take the initiative is stressful rather than freeing. As a result, these people will lack engagement, and their performance will probably suffer. However, this doesn’t mean they wouldn’t prove valuable assets if given the right development opportunities.
International Employee Resource Groups are highly valuable
An International Employee Retention Group (IERG) provides international employees with a professional development support network. This leads to much higher engagement rates and helps HR notice and retain talented individuals.
Apart from professional development, the company’s IERG should also focus on cultural competency training programs, policy improvements, cultural inclusion, networking opportunities, social responsibility, and community support.
It’s crucial to have a visible and vocal sponsor for this group, preferably higher executives. But, most of all, encourage everyone, not only international employees, to connect and participate.
Internationalize your onboarding program
The onboarding is essential in determining how new hires will feel and how successful they will be in their new roles. It’s important to include the basic information and procedures that refer to everybody, regardless of position or location. Additionally, make sure to cover aspects related to international employees.
For example, a section on living and working in a new culture will benefit all new employees. They will learn a lot about each other and what to expect. It’s essential to keep in mind that people have just as much trouble interacting with those who come from a different background and will find multicultural integration very useful when there are cultural and linguistic barriers.
Train your managers to be internationally competent
Before you can enroll the right people in talent management programs, somebody has to figure out who those individuals are. Managers have a front-row view and should tell without much difficulty which members are top talent material. However, that can be more challenging in global teams.
Cultural competency programs for managers should provide participants with skills to help with communication styles, conducting feedback sessions and performance reviews, team-building activities, and more.
It’s valuable to include international employees in these modules so they can share their experiences and expectations. When it comes to multicultural settings, learning runs both ways.
Encourage networking and establish a buddy system
Formal programs can only do so much in an organization. Especially when we are talking about improving the workforce, the human factor comes out as most important. For your international employees to feel they truly fit in and are given equal opportunities, they have to witness how everybody else is faring.
There are numerous ways to encourage in-company networking. Mentoring programs are a good option as they are aimed at the social aspect and learning and developing competencies. Buddy systems where you pair up employees from various cultures and spaces and provide them with a framework for mutual support are also highly effective.
Read more: How many types of mentoring are there?
International employees can bring a lot of added value to your organization by coming with a fresh perspective and out-of-the-box ideas. To do that, however, they need to feel that they are valued, and their contribution is wanted. The optimal way to achieve this is by looking at your current talent development program and adjusting it to be inclusive and inviting.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and MATRIX. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author, and educator.