Global talent management – what is it and what does it involve?

Essentially global talent management is not dissimilar to HR – it’s simply HR on a global scale. The purpose of global talent management is to recruit and retain the best talent in the context of a business whose limits don’t stop at national borders.

The managing of a global workforce is complex, and involves not only selecting the right employees to send overseas, but in many cases also assisting them with their move. This could mean helping out with visa requirements, finding the right accommodation, and assisting in the selection and placing of school-age children in the best establishment (if the employee is going abroad with her or his family).

There are also important financial considerations too when a member of the workforce is stationed abroad – such as their tax requirements, how remuneration is worked out (and which currency to pay people in) as well as things like health cover.

Why are people moving abroad?

Research suggests that the profile of international workers is changing – and while the majority of those going overseas on assignments used to be people higher up the organisational structure, there are now more people going abroad who aren’t at an elevated executive level.

One of the main reasons more opportunities are opening up abroad is because companies – in an effort to rely less on a single territory, are looking to grow in emerging markets. Recently Brazil, Russia, India and China – known collectively as the BRICs economies – have been featured quite heavily in a lot of talk about economic growth and business opportunity.

The globally mobile workforce

While the day is still far off when a majority of employees will be able to choose to spend time working abroad for their company, there’s no doubt that overseas assignments are popular, and seen as a valuable step in career progression. But working abroad – for all its rewards, does bring its own special set of challenges and pressures, including:

  • attaining the right level of language skills
  • negotiating the vagaries of foreign healthcare systems
  • settling into a new job and living circumstances in what may be an unfamiliar location

Obviously, for employers there’s a lot at stake as well for the employee. If an assignment doesn’t work out for whatever reason, then it can be a costly process to discontinue the assignment. Many employers provide an EAP (employee assistance programme) to provide counselling for employees experiencing problems in their personal life.

In terms of healthcare, some surveys have indicated that in some cases employers may be unaware of the difference between travel health cover and expat cover. In a blog post on advice for prospective expatriates on the website of AXA PPP International expat health insurance provider, an important point is raised about entry to certain countries and the strict visa rules they may have. There have been stories in the press about uninsured people actually being turned away at the airport. So health insurance comes high on the list of priorities.

Gavin M is a blogger specialising in expat life and employment topics.