Manage a Successful Global Contingent Workforce – 4 Best Practice Tips

Picture this scenario… your organisation has successfully adopted using contingent workers locally. You’re able to upscale and downscale seasonally and during business fluctuations. Your management processes, worker compliance and the output from your contingent workers are humming along smoothly. As a result, you know you need to expand this strategy. You know you can achieve greater success by making this a global contingent workforce solution.

But where to start?

Organisations with a global footprint are increasingly adopting a global contingent workforce approach. Borders are less of a barrier to business expansion and global mobility is increasingly a non-issue (okay… not so much in this crazy era of COVID-19, but otherwise, yes). So the trend of embracing an agile, flexible and responsive workforce strategy appears an obvious choice. Managed right, the commercial return can be lucrative.

Today, we take a look at the key best practices you need to be aware of, as you expand your global contingent worker population.

BEST PRACTICE TIP #1: Preparation

This may sound obvious, but the value of preparation can’t be understated when expanding to a global contingent workforce.

Hear me out on this.

Consider your local contingent workforce strategy. If it’s successful and proven, it’s the best first step to consider in preparation for expansion to a global contingent workforce. Ideally, we recommend that you review, analyse and document your existing approach. This will enable you to define what your global strategy should look like. And, you will be able to roll it out in a timely and measured approach.

Do you have a third-party provider (like CXC) managing your contingent workforce locally?

Think about engaging this partner globally (if they have the global capacity like CXC do). A great strategy is to attempt to emulate the local strategy at a global scale, as closely as possible.

BEST PRACTICE TIP #2: Get employees from head office involved

Ideally, you can temporarily install employees from your local organisation or head office to the offshore locations, for set-up and strategy execution.

These workers can train, educate and assist your offshore employees and contingent workers with the processes, best practices, reporting requirements and more.

Remember, your offshore workers will potentially have little to zero exposure to managing and engaging contingent workers. It’s a new stream of people for them to work with, get used to and there’s a tacit on us of responsibility for making the new strategy a success.

The other valuable aspect of engaging workers from your corporate head office is in technology integration. If you’re already using an MSP and your additional technology stack isn’t compliant with the destination country, you’re going to end up in hot water. This is a potentially expensive and time-draining scenario that we can help you to avoid.

BEST PRACTICE TIP #3: Communicate with the global contingent workforce

A consistent stream of communications with your organisation’s new team/s is another obvious but critical element of your global expansion.

Approach your communications as a relationship-building exercise with the new workers.

This is particularly important as the opportunity for in-person meetings will be limited. Make sure you capitalise on video meetings (like Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts), and phone calls to keep the lines of communications open. Also, make sure that your messaging across the business, and across borders, is simple, clear and concise. This will help information being misinterpreted or inaccurate.

Remember – especially in the early days – communications with your newly engaged contingent workers will be just as important, as communications with your existing workers based in both offshore offices, and your local office (if they’re in a support capacity). Both groups of workers need nurturing, support and guidance, especially during transition.

BEST PRACTICE TIP #4: RESPECT local laws and cultures

There are multiple considerations here for successfully expanding your global contingent workforce as follows:

  • Gather sufficient knowledge of the local employment, taxation, IR, on-hire and contingent labour laws, before you consider the venture. This will help to mitigate any losses, for example, if the offshore destination places time limits on your operations
  • Explore all foreign government considerations. These include:
    • Transportation infrastructure
    • Supply chain issues
    • Taxation implications as a foreign entity
    • Exchange rates
    • Access to capital at competitive rates
    • Immigration issues
    • Foreign worker issues
  • Establish a professional network in the destination country. Or, if you’re already established in the region, lean on your network. This will help to glean economic, cultural and commercial insights. Advice from organisations who have undertaken this approach before you is more valuable than anything
  • On the issue of culture, be very focused on learning acceptable business practices. Many countries aren’t as relaxed as Australia when it comes to business interactions and cultural nuances. If you’re uninformed it could be your organisation’s undoing. Check and check again on all cultural issues of relevance to your global expansion
  • Establish relationships with a local partner – a business entity or consulting service that can guide you during your transition will be valuable
  • Tap into any Australian and foreign trade entities that can provide advice and guidance on your expansion. This will help you achieve a smooth integration, with minimal business impact
  • Be sure to have an established business case that you can learn from. Knowing, first-hand, that other organisations from Australia have made a success in the chosen destination/s is important for your learning and education. The main considerations here include:
    • Protecting your IP in a foreign country. Confirm the local government can’t get access to your proprietary business deliverables
    • Undertake a financial feasibility study. Does it make financial sense to be in that country, with a large contingent labour-force?
  • Undertake a market feasibility study.
    • Does the market have longevity, and commercial feasibility?
    • What have been the long and short-term financial trends of this market?
    • What are the future projections for this region?

Ultimately, your success in establishing a global contingent workforce will rely on your ability to plan and prepare.

And your absolute vigilance in strategy roll-out.

Partnering with a contingent labour management firm can help make this process far easier, more cost-effective, and more successful. As contingent workforce specialists, we can advise on how to avoid the many hurdles of local markets, without you having to withstand the hassle. Not to mention we can guide you through the process to save you time and resources when it comes to market reconnaissance.

As one of the world’s leading providers of contingent worker management solutions, CXC is well positioned to optimise all elements of your contingent workforce strategy. With operations in more than 50 countries across five continents and decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your program.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help please contact us here.

Post photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash