Organizational Wellness

A 5-Step Guide to Hiring International Employees

Mar 14, 2024
Last Updated Mar 14, 2024

International recruitment is trending. 

As of last year, more than half  of companies said they operate in two countries, according to an HR brew survey. Nearly a quarter say they work in three or four, with 22% work in more than ten. 

If you’re looking to expand your company, you might want to start with hiring globally. International employees can provide your company with many benefits, from enriching your company culture to opening new markets.

But hiring across borders isn’t always a walk in the park. Here are five critical steps that will help you start global recruitment. 

Diverse Recruitment

Why Hire International Employees?

Recruiting foreign workers can provide a variety of benefits to your company. Here are four of the key perks: 

Deepen Your Organizational Skill Set

One major benefit of hiring internationally is that you can expand the skill sets at your company. When you’re looking for a graphic designer, you’re no longer limited to a 20 mile radius. Global hiring empowers your team to find and harness the best expertise no matter where they live. Even if the candidate is thousands of away, you can still have them on your team. 

Global Market Insights

If your company is looking to expand internationally, hiring globally can be powerful. Recruiting local team members familiar with the market can give you great insights.  For example, these employees may give you: 

  • Language skills
  • Knowledge of local etiquette
  • Established relationships with local professionals
  • Insight into employee expectations for compensation
  • Social support for staff who relocate

Enhancing Company Culture

Hiring internationally has the potential to improve the work environment — and push innovation forward. In fact, companies that hire abroad are nearly twice as likely to emerge as innovative leaders in their industries. Hiring employees with varied backgrounds also creates diversity, which gives you a competitive edge. Diversity, in general, improves retention rates too. 

Cultivating diversity helps create a supportive work environment. Great company culture also matters to employees. Workers who say they feel connected to the environment are almost four times as likely to be engaged at work. 

Attracting Top Talent

Expanding your hiring provides another benefit: it can help draw talent to your company. That’s because people want jobs in diverse workplaces. In fact, three in four job hunters actively seek a diverse workplace. They consider that an important factor when evaluating companies. They want to work for organizations that have diverse employees. So branching out where you hire can help make that happen. 

How to Hire International Employees

Ready to expand your recruitment? There are particular requirements to do this. Here are a couple of tips: 

  1. Understanding Legal Requirements

Each country will have different labor laws to follow. If you have an employee working in their home country, you’ll have to comply with both country’s laws. For example, in the U.S., that requires getting permission from the United States Department of Labor certification. Helping a recruit immigrate also requires sponsoring a relocation visa

It’s also important to look at tax and labor laws in the employee’s home country. Those regulations can have an effect on the hiring process and duration of work. Here are common variables to consider: 

  • Durations. Some visas will only allow workers to be in the country for certain periods of time. Or they might require certain amounts of notice for a change in employment status. 
  • Contracts. Your company may need to provide the employee’s home country with an official contract. Consider writing the employment contract in the worker’s local language for their government to keep. 
  • Deductions. Some countries will have very minimal deductions while others have strict laws. As an employer, it’s important to balance these requirements. 
  • Costs. If you choose to relocate a recruit, you may need to pay some fees to be compliant. The average cost of this process is about $4,000 per team member. 

If you’re looking for support, consider an employer of record

  1. Effective Sourcing Strategies

Once you have a handle on legal requirements, it’s time to start finding employees. Many companies feel that it’s difficult to find great team members. In fact, 63% of recruiters consider a talent shortage their biggest problem. Hiring managers have the same dilemma: 76% say attracting good candidates is their biggest problem. This problem also applies when hiring abroad.

So how can you find the right team members internationally? Here are a few tips that can get you started: 

  • Try a job board. There are international job board sites that can help you reach interested applicants.. 
  • Set up an internal team. Consider setting up a group in your HR department to manage all the ins and outs of international hiring. They can become experts in the intricacies of  the process. 
  • Hire a Professional Employer Organization. It never hurts to have experts on your side. One excellent resource is a global professional employer organization (PEO). These groups can help you find talent and become the legal employer of the employee. That means they’re responsible for all tax requirements and international payroll processing. This eases the burden on your team. Your company will only oversee employee’s day-to-day work. 

  1. Cultural Competency in Recruitment

As you hire, remember cultural differences. Trying to be sensitive to other practices and beliefs can help you hire. For example, not every country has the same etiquette for job application materials. In many parts of India and China, employees will include a personal details section at the end of a resume. In India, that section often includes information about their marital status or passport. In China, they may mention medical details, such as blood type. 

So how can your company develop and utilize cultural competency? Here are a some strategies: 

  • Research where you’re hiring. Before accepting applications, consider looking into the area. Dive into the country’s history, culture, and values. You might research workplaces in the region to understand how they work. 
  • Show curiosity. When you encounter something new, you may want to approach it with an attitude of curiosity. For example, if you get a resume with information you wouldn’t include, try to be interested rather than judgmental. You might ask questions and learn more about someone’s culture.  
  • Learn more about your own biases. Everyone has biases. One way to amplify your international hiring efforts is to examine your own. Identify them and then work to overcome them. That could include getting feedback from others and examining your internal thought processes. 

  1. Streamlining the Interview Process

Hiring takes more time for international recruitment. Some people will have their visas approved in less than a month — while others wait months. For example, businesses in California see visas take somewhere between two to four and a half months. On the other hand, in Vermont, the average processing time is 15 months. It’s a good idea to plan for this timing when setting up your interview process. 

To help expedite the process, consider holding video interviews. It can be pricey to try to hold an interview in person. During these conversations, remember to account for any language differences and cultural views. 

  1. Onboarding and Integration

Strong onboarding has been shown to increase retention by 82%. These are some strategies for amplifying your process for international hires: 

  • Roles and expectations. You may start by outlining what the new hire is going to do day-to-day. It can also be helpful to show exactly how an employee will be evaluated. People from other countries may also work differently. For example, the U.S. is fast-paced and competitive. Not everyone will automatically work that way. Because evaluations can differ in different cultures, aligning expectations is especially important. 
  • Pre-boarding. Consider starting before an employee’s first day. It can be difficult to start a position in an entirely new culture. Giving employees access to their work information can help ease the transition. In addition, you could set up introductions ahead of time. That can help each individual feel more welcome in their new environment. 
  • Optimize communication. When adapting to a new place, your hire may have questions or concerns. Consider showing them multiple ways to contact you. That way they can choose the one they’re most comfortable with, increasing the chances they’ll reach out to you. 
  • Benefits information. Something that’s a standard benefit for you might not exist in another country. Taking the time to fully explain how the process works can help everyone enroll in your programs. 
  • Personalized attention. Working from a different location or moving to a new country can be difficult. Consider spending time working with international new hires one-on-one to help them adjust. 

Attract International Employees with Wellness Benefits

Ultimately, hiring international employees is one way to strengthen your recruitment strategy. 

Strong employee benefits are another important part of talent acquisition: That’s why73% of HR leaders consider their wellness programs as an important part of talent acquisition. Rolling out a wellness initiative can attract workers from all over — and make them want to stay. 

Wellhub is perfectly suited to companies with international employees. With an international network of more than 50,000 wellness service providers, we can support employees in multiple countries. 

Talk to a Wellhub wellbeing specialist for help launching a wellness program every employee can enjoy. 

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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