Pros and cons of hiring an expat

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Published 2018-04-11 08:30

Are you thinking to recruit global talent to help you set up your business abroad or establish your brand in a foreign market? International recruitment can help you achieve your business objectives and boost your company’s performance on an international level. However, before you rush into sourcing global talent, why not weighing first the pros and cons of working with people from overseas? We have compiled a list of the advantages and disadvantages of hiring an expat to help you make a well-informed decision.

The pros

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International experience: Depending on the role, an expat may have a set of professional skills, which will make them the best candidate for the position. However, expats (and especially serial expats) bear some unique personal qualities, which will contribute to the overall, successful completion of tasks and execution of projects. We are referring to characteristics such as resilience, adaptability, and problem solving, which are often cultivated during the times of living abroad and can be an asset to the company. Is there an employer who wouldn’t like to work with an independent person who reacts quickly to change and adapts as required?

Better recruitment chances: If you have just started your business in a relatively unknown or small job market abroad, you may find it difficult to recruit the right candidate within your geographical area. Although there are many ways to look for local candidates (social media, word of mouth, local recruitment agency, etc.), there’s always the risk that the hard or soft skills you are looking for aren’t available or are very limited in the country you are operating. In this case, opening your horizons to global talent gives you more chances to find the ideal candidate from a variety of professional and educational backgrounds.

Inner motivation: Expats tend to be self-motivated, daring people, who look at life’s bigger picture. Not everyone can be as courageous to leave their comfort zone in search of new opportunities and adventures, far away from the familiarity of home. The process of moving abroad comes with many rewards but also challenges, which make the expat a stronger and often a better version of who they are. The expat has left home for a reason — whether it is professional or personal development — and will work hard to make their expat project a success regardless of the obstacles that come along the way.

Appropriate expertise: If you are an entrepreneur who is doing something pioneering in a country that has no previous experience of such a product or service, it will be difficult and maybe impossible to achieve 100 percent engagement of local employees with your business’ methods, values, and vision for the future. However, an international candidate may have worked in a similar field before and may be ready not only to execute your plan, but also to bring new ideas in, expertise, and knowledge to move your concept forward.

The cons

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Higher costs: One of the main concerns for employers who are considering hiring a workforce of expats is costs. Indeed, expat employees come at a higher price due to accommodation and transport allowances, relocation packages, international health insurance, and visa sponsorship. Also, expats are usually not immediately available to start and can cost you time as well — time to relocate, complete the visa process, and adapt.

Rigorous immigration requirements: Different countries have different regulations for hiring expats. Among some of the things that should be considered by both sides (the employer and the employee) are the type and duration of the visa, the role and whether it is open to expats, and the occasion of change of employer. Make sure you are well-informed about all of the paperwork involved and consult the immigration office in the country of business before you make arrival arrangements with your first expat employee. Keep in mind that if things go wrong (even if it’s not entirely your fault), it may cause damage to your reputation as an employer within the country and abroad.

Moral support: Expat life is a rewarding experience. However, it can be very challenging at times. Often, feelings of loneliness, culture shock, and homesickness overwhelm expatriates, and not every expat is equally prepared to deal with such intense and possibly new emotions. Reportedly, a combination of the previously mentioned distresses and hard work lead to a high burnout rate among professional expats. Thus, as an employer, you must be well-prepared to deal with these types of unpredictable situations and follow up with your expat employees on a regular basis to prevent the worst case scenario of losing excellent staff due to external factors. Also, consider that many of your expat workers may arrive with their family, whose adaptation to the new country will also affect their daily performance.

Legal risks: National employment laws and regulations regarding payroll, tax, and pension are often different for the local population and the expats. As with the immigration requirements, you should ensure compliance with the legal requirements too of the country your business operates in. This will save you the headache of having to deal with the local authorities, which may be a lengthy and costly process for both you and your employee.