“Pre-pandemic, you (really) didn’t talk about working from home and virtual reality or wellness in the office. Sure, that might have been a hot topic, but it’s a super hot topic now. So HR has to pivot to really cater to employees both virtual and on board.” — Gavin Hockey, Division Vice President – Sales, Asia Pacific, ADP
For the company that sees global opportunities, the recent advancements of remote work present the perfect window for growth. But expanding too quickly, without correctly understanding risk and compliance, can threaten whatever potential a company has in a new country.
That was the topic of discussion at the PANGEO panel, “Future-Proof Your Business: Scale, and Hire Globally and Compliantly,” moderated by Craig Goldblatt, Vice President of Partners and Alliances, Globalization Partners, with speakers Gavin Hockey, Division Vice President of Sales for Asia-Pacific, ADP; Dario Acconci, Managing Director for Southeast Asia, Hawksford; and Sarah Thapa, Managing Director, The Migration Agency.
HR: Strategic partners that play a pivotal role in overcoming regulatory hurdles
Hockey opened the discussion by explaining why the most challenging barrier to international growth is maintaining compliance and employment law across multiple jurisdictions. Over the past year and a half, the challenge has been further exacerbated due to increasing regulatory changes.
As Hockey put it, “It’s no wonder HR is suffering under the pains of being compliant. So when I think about new countries, it’s very challenging for these HR technology and companies to keep up.”
The importance of HR teams leveraging technology is monumental. Not only does it help provide accurate, meaningful, and timely data, it also positions organizations as “great business partners,” as Hockey said.
HR teams must also get ahead of data privacy and security, which are increasingly becoming conversation topics in countries like New Zealand and Australia, where Single Touch Payroll (STP) and annualized wages arrangements have been implemented.
Organizations that lack agile HR teams must look towards outsourcing to fill the gap.
“You want HR to be strategic partners to your business. If they’re not strategic partners, they’re doing what is [called] low-value admin tasks. I say outsource it,” said Hockey.
Stay committed to reap maximum benefits
Unlike the European Union, Asia is not one big singular market. Several dozen diverse markets, business cultures, legal frameworks, and vocations exist within Asia.
While it’s undisputed that Asia has one of the highest spending power and potential in the world right now, how can businesses go about entering the region?
For one, starting small is not a problem. Instead, organizations must be committed to their expansion efforts, which means setting up a physical presence within Asia.
As Acconci explained, “Things have evolved, and Asian customers want you to be present in their market. They want after-sales. They want customer care. They will ask you, do you have a subsidiary, for example, just to understand the level of commitment.”
Test new markets with cross-road jurisdictions and proper legwork
So, where should companies go first? Compliance must remain a top priority. Companies that do not have sufficient resources have to be wise with the jurisdictions they start from.
According to Acconci, targeting jurisdictions like Japan or Indonesia can spell trouble, especially if companies are not equipped with the best compliance and legality knowledge.
A general rule of thumb is to target cross-road jurisdictions like Singapore or Hong Kong where ease of doing business is high, and transparency is clear.
But companies won’t be aware of the nuances of markets within Asia if they lack proper preparation and knowledge.
“You will not know any of this if you don’t dedicate your time with your best resources and send your best people into the country, and you don’t have the network of professionals within that system. So you have to do your homework,” continued Acconci.
Going glocal not global
Suppose a global perspective involves wrapping a singular approach around a vast array of different markets. In that case, a glocal perspective is a multilocal approach that considers each market’s specific requirements before incorporating these nuances into a company’s talent mobility strategy.
Sticking with a global approach can also introduce more risks, as Thapa pointed out: “It’s no longer possible to cast the net wide with a one-size-fits-all. And, in fact, taking a global approach can create significant risks to an organization if the approach isn’t being adapted according to the particular needs of each market.”
And apart from significantly reducing risks of noncompliance with local laws, a glocal approach also means that companies can better align their immigration program with their own objectives.
For example, when Australia imposed strict border restrictions, the Australian government created special pathways for people working in critical sectors.
A company with a glocal approach would immediately start to strategize with clients and help them devise solutions to be able to pivot their talent mobility strategy according to what was happening in the local market.
The same can’t be said for companies that still stick to an outdated global strategy: “A firm that doesn’t have that deep knowledge and expertize and is taking maybe a more global approach, their immigration program might have come to a standstill because they didn’t have their finger on their ground to be able to respond,” concluded Thapa.
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