International Talent Management Strategy Guide


Implementing and optimising an effective international talent management strategy is an ongoing process. If your organisation is focused on maximising returns from your global workforce, what are the key factors that form the foundation of a high performing global talent management strategy?


What is talent management?

Talent management refers to a set of integrated processes in which to attract, identify, develop, engage, motivate, retain and deploy individuals who are considered particularly valuable to an organisation. It is a process aimed at driving performance through integrated people management practices.

This includes recruiting the right personnel to fill critical operational roles to meet existing short-term business needs, as well as developing existing talent within your organisation for the long-term success and growth of your business.

It is also about investing the necessary time and expense in effectively managing and incentivising your people to ensure that they remain loyal and committed to working for you, and consistently aligned to your overall strategic objectives.


What is international talent management?

International talent management refers to the same set of integrated people processes, from recruitment through to deployment, but on a much larger scale.

When dealing with talent management on an international basis, the process of creating and maintaining a high performing workforce can become even more complex, where several additional factors typically come into play.

These factors can include whether you are working within established or emerging markets overseas, the existing economic climate both at home and abroad, as well as the availability, accessibility and willingness of any home or host based talent to help you meet your international goals and objectives.


Why is international talent management important?

The role and value of talent management, especially on an international scale, should not be underestimated. The talent that you recruit and retain within your company or organisation is one of your most valuable assets. It is these key individuals who will ensure the successful running of your daily overseas operations and be responsible for the growth and success of your business.

Through effective people management processes you can maintain a high-performing mobile workforce, tailored to the needs of your business and closely aligned to your international strategic objectives, both now and for the future.

In this way, you can ensure you have the right people with the required skills, at the right time and in the right place, building a promising talent pipeline and a sustainable competitive advantage in an international context.


How do I devise an international talent management strategy?

There are various different strategic approaches that can be taken when establishing effective people processes within an international group, from a headquarters based strategy to a regionally or globally orientated strategy.

Knowing what type of international talent management strategy to adopt will involve a careful cost-benefit analysis in the context of your global business goals. There are also various factors that can come into play depending on the home and host locations, where managing people on an international scale can pose all sorts of practical, logistical and legal challenges.

Different companies and organisations will adopt different strategies as they develop and grow in diverse locations, although in all cases consideration must be given as to how you will attract, identify, develop, engage, motivate, retain and deploy talent on an international scale. Each of these key factors can be used to effectively form the foundation of a good global talent management strategy.


Attract the right talent

To remain competitive within an international context, it is vital that you are able to attract the best and brightest talent to your company or organisation. In some cases, you may be looking to deploy existing home-based employees overseas, especially where you are seeking to establish new business abroad.

However, deploying existing assignees is not the only way to retain a competitive edge. Although it is important to maintain a consistent brand and approach for your business, the benefits of utilising local talent should never be overlooked.

Having identified the disciplines needed to achieve your international goals, you must locate the right candidate for the job, wherever they are based. By looking to local talent to create a more permanent regional workforce, you can draw on the skills, abilities and local knowledge from the available host-based talent.

By sourcing people who understand local regulations and market requirements, trading restrictions, political differences and ethical sensitivities, this can put you on a level playing field with home grown competitors. Further, the domestic population will benefit from your business, and your business will save significantly on the cost of mobilising existing employees from home.


Identify existing potential

As an alternative to recruiting new talent to your company or organisation from overseas, it is equally important that you identify any existing potential, either at home or within existing operations in different locations abroad.

By mobilising staff on an international basis, this can significantly benefit both the individual and your business, helping key employees fully realise their global potential and develop key transferable cross-border skills that can be used in locations all over the world.

However, even though the possibility of career progression and the whole international travel experience can be enticing in itself, you will often need to offer a suitably lucrative salary and benefits package to incentivise candidates to accept an international assignment on either a short or long-term basis.


Develop your talent

Once you have recruited new talent or identified existing potential within your company or organisation, you need to look at ways in which you can nurture this potential and develop these key personnel within an international context.

Recruiting or mobilising employees abroad is difficult enough in itself, but managing the long-term talent capabilities can present entirely different challenges. When dealing with a diverse workforce, it is important that you are able to effectively manage their differing needs, taking into account their individual personal, professional and cultural expectations.

However, with the benefit of a good global talent management strategy, where time is taken to identify ways in which top talent can be developed within your overseas operations, your business will reap the rewards. In many cases, the whole international experience can be used to help train valuable employees for future leadership roles, as well as giving them invaluable insight and new industry knowledge to help develop your business back home.


Engage your talent

Engaging top talent can be crucial to ensuring that you maximise the performance and potential of key individuals within your company or organisation. An effective international talent management strategy can be designed to increase employee engagement and drive a more productive and high-performing workforce for your overseas operations.

This could include putting in place an effective benefit and support program for international assignees to ensure their wellbeing during the lifecycle of an assignment. Even highly driven employees still need support, where inadequate support systems can leave employees feeling unable to culturally integrate or isolated from co-workers and life back home.

By providing the right support, your employees will feel valued and better able to perform well for you, even where the host destination is especially challenging, for example, due to a lack of infrastructure or hostile climate. In this way, you can also alleviate the risk of either early repatriation or losing your top talent altogether to one of your competitors.

You may also find that by giving both home and host based employees a dedicated channel to put forward their ideas to help your business progress, or to express their concerns, this will help them to feel more engaged and valued. The most engaged employees are the ones that want to actively contribute to the success of the business and feel confident that their voices will be heard.


Motivate your talent

By valuing your people and managing them effectively, you will motivate them to perform well, both for your business and their own professional development.

Succession planning is crucial to facilitate this important part of the people management process. At a senior level, it is not only essential for you to know who your high value or high potential employees are, but to make sure they know this themselves and what you are doing to help develop them further for continued growth within your company or organisation.

At a more junior level, all employees must be made aware that there are opportunities for them to develop and grow. It is also essential to help them acquire the necessary skills and knowledge so they are ready for promotion when the time arises. By encouraging a climate of continuous learning and development for everyone, and by investing in skills training, employees will feel more motivated to progress and more readily able to maximise their potential.


Retain your talent

Retaining top talent within your company or organisation can be key to the success of your business within a global environment. A good global talent management strategy will look to what incentives can be offered, not only to recruit your talent in the first place, but also to retain them.

For host-based talent you need to look at ways to incentivise their commitment and loyalty to you. There are various retention tools that can be utilised as means of reducing employee turnover, from competitive benefits to creating a positive working environment in which the wellbeing of your workforce is highly valued. In this way you will also develop a reliable and reputable employer brand to attract new local talent to your company or organisation.

For home-based international assignees, you may need to consider more creative ways to retain a high performing mobile workforce. This could include a competitive relocation package to compensate them during the course of their assignment, as well as a suitable repatriation package on their return home, together with the possibility of career progression at the end of their assignment.

You must be open to new approaches when it comes to retaining talented employees, especially when looking to entice them back to their home country or to be deployed to different international locations. For both host and home based talent, offering a career pathway to more senior promotion can often be a good way to retain their skills and abilities to benefit your business long-term.


Deploy your talent

Having invested in recruiting and retaining talent within your company or organisation, you will need to consider how and where best to utilise the skills of key employees within different areas of your overseas operations.

You will need to identify where any skills gaps lie and what skills you have on board. In this way, you can deploy relevant personnel to fill critical roles to further the progression and growth of your business.

The mobility policies you have in place should provide the flexibility for talent to move freely about, either sideways into similar roles or upwards into more senior roles. In this way any deployment opportunities will not be missed by unnecessarily restrictive or complicated procedures.


Best practice tips on how to recruit & retain top talent abroad

The following five best practice tips to recruit and retain top talent can help you to determine the best way to develop and maintain your overseas talent base:

  • Be clear about your values as a company or organisation, ensuring that you have a reliable and reputable employer brand to attract and retain top talent for your overseas operations
  • Be clear about your overall international goals and objectives, ensuring that these are aligned with your global talent management strategy
  • Be prepared to draw on the skills and abilities of local talent, widening the pool of potential talent and contributing to your workforce diversity
  • Ensure that the needs of both the employee and your business are fully considered, creating meaningful career and growth opportunities
  • Ensure that the full potential of all employees is realised, not just key individuals who are considered valuable to your business.


Need assistance?

DavidsonMorris are employer solutions lawyers with specialist experience in global mobility and supporting businesses with their international workforce needs. For advice and help with your expat management, speak to us.


Last updated: 11 April 2020


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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