Recruiting talent from abroad is becoming more and more common as corporate needs are changing faster than educational institutions can provide employees with needed skills. Software engineers are especially sought after. The race to find the best ones is tough with many companies courting the same talent. That said, IT professionals are not the only jobs that are in high demand in Sweden. There are shortages in many skilled fields such as jobs in the medical and educational fields. Teachers and professors are also very much in demand. Sweden and Swedish companies are certainly widening their net to find these skills beyond the national borders. We will share with you the pros and cons and resources you need to provide in-house relocation services effectively.
You are not alone in considering doing part of the relocation chores in-house. When you are relocating large volumes this makes sense, at least for some of the work. There are parts of relocation process that may be clearly suitable to do in house. Also, many HR & global mobility professionals prefer to work on a broader range of duties in the human capital area other than just recruitment. This may include: compensation and benefits, resource planning, workforce training, workforce planning, budgeting, employer branding, internal communication, the softer issues for HR and of course relocation.
Some of these tasks make a lot of sense to do in-house as it will further the career of global mobility professionals and human resource executives. Other tasks may prove too time consuming.
Recruiting talent internationally is something entirely different than recruiting domestically where the cultural fit is easier to determine. A face to face meeting is easily arranged and multiple meetings are possible if hiring domestically. Some positions are easy to test skills for while positions require HR to lean heavily on assessing attitude and having the right educational standards, these qualities can be harder to validate unless you are familiar with universities, educational titles and ranking of specific educations.
Resources needed are educational expertise and knowledge of rankings for different universities in the locations where you are looking. The number of research papers produced is one parameter that is part of the rankings for instance. Another is to actually know which department is the premier one, some universities are very strong in tech while their business department is weaker. So, the same university can have different levels of excellence and a deep insight in this area is a great asset.
Having access to multiple testing options in order to see how the skills and personality fits with the organisation is important. Some recruitment firms are specialised in certain areas in regards to testing; however, being closely involved with key talent is advisable as a foreign hire is a higher stake and surely a far higher cost recruit than a domestic one.
Endless interviews and aptitude tests is difficult for candidates and HR alike, hence the digitalization of a search is helpful if you have it available. With these tools very deep analytical skills are beneficial and then the data can truly drive the business and the HR can be a key person in the management team.
Compensation & Benefits
Companies with a large workforce will do well in having a compensation and benefits department. Most companies do have in-house HR who put together packages and employment contracts. Again, for domestic hires it is pretty straightforward while we don’t often see packages for international talent without a tax consultant having been involved at some stage of the offer.
Legal training is a great resource when putting together an employment contract. Having an in-depth understanding on how the insurance cover works along with implications on the employment offer and the Migration law today and in the future. A deep insight into health care and insurances is also key.
What is essential in the employment offer and how should the pension covered be construed to ensure a win win for company and employee? A compensation and benefits expert should be part of the team and possibly have online resources available for HR in order to stay abreast in labor law and requirements for tax as well.
Having someone who knows the ins and outs of the unions, collective agreements and rehabilitation of sick staff is also a great resource. Even companies without a collective agreement will need to know the benchmarks for a variety of terms so there is a minimum standard. Companies without collective agreements are often more generous than those with them.
Some companies in addition to their daily business also have to lobby the government for better entrepreneurial terms and a more flexible labor law. Having someone on the team that is passionate about these areas is a true help to the business.
It is also helpful to have people on your team who are closely aligned with the business planning. The ability to keep a close eye on what skills are needed in different projects and how to allocate those skills at the right time is an art. It is also very time consuming as the timelines and needs are ever-changing. A person who is high skilled in this area is worth their weight in gold and should be allowed to work in peace.
There are many resource planning software and resource scheduling software products that can replace difficult spreadsheets and whiteboards. Although sometimes whiteboards can really do the trick. It all depends on the size of the team.
You will also need to manage the projects, meet deadlines and move deadlines when unexpected roadblocks occur. Having all the data collected in one place with a clearly allocated person/s responsible for reporting and planning will be very useful for your company. The system used should give reporting, analytics, performance and utilization so future projects can be planned with that in mind.
For project based companies down time can be used for trainings. Developing the workforce to meet client needs and overall company goals is rewarding and having that in-house is not a bad idea. To oversee what skills are needed now and in the future means closely working with the company’s overall strategy and having a detailed look at the talents current skills and anticipating where the employees future zone of genius can and should be. Sometimes very basic skills are needed and sometimes it requires enrolling in schooling at expensive universities.
Having a clear picture of available resources is important. A great in-house Resource Planner will have a good overview of available training resources and be on top of research of efficient training.
Different modes of education will be suitable for different skills. Is an online course sufficient for language learning for instance or will people paint their nails during the session? Should an immersion course in Malta be the preferred mode of learning a language or is it impossible for business purposes or the workforce may have young children at home and not ready to travel.
Resource training will need careful monitoring, follow up and a variety of options available. Having training as part of the HR role is tempting to many especially for global mobility experts since foreign talent have greater needs. To really welcome a foreign hire some language courses may be needed, cultural training, or some basic skills that are especially Swedish.
Sweden places a lot of emphasis of equality between the sexes in the workplace. Along with the #metoo movement it is important to help all new staff members understand the internal policies, what can and cannot be done. A cultural background information piece can be very useful to provide here and of course moving to Sweden as a woman is great as there are many opportunities for advancement here.
There are, of course, health and safety information that may need to be shared and that information sometimes need to be translated. These are perfect areas to cover with in-house staff in order to make sure it is clearly communicated.
An internal IT policy and training on reporting systems etc. is also usually covered by in-house HR or the closest manager.
For a company to be efficient smooth operations are key. Avoiding unnecessary friction due to different cultural practices is desirable. The way we view time for instance, what is being on time? How long is a work day? What do you wear in an office? What kind of food is acceptable to eat in the office? How loudly can you speak and about what? How close can you stand to your colleague without making them feel uncomfortable. There’s a lot of information that is good to share early on, or before the assignment starts.
It may also be a valuable investment to have HR trained in conflict resolutions and open up borders and acceptance between co-workers.
Finding online courses to prepare the talent before and upon arrival will alleviate the burden on HR and hopefully reduce the conflict resolution portion of the job.
Setting budgets for staff and salaries is part of the HR job description. Having benchmark data is very useful and cost of living indexes can be essential when putting together offer letter for foreign staff.
There are several cost-of-living institutes; however, to get real time data for a specific area do ask your local relocation company. You can download our free housing guide with rental price ranges for Stockholm as a sample. Housing is likely to be the biggest expense for foreign hires apart from the school fees.
True employer branding goes way beyond the company website. HR has an enormous potential to develop and maintain the employer brand. It doesn’t need to be costly and yes it can be quirky.
Having a person in the office come up with some fun things that create a cohesive community is great. The resource needed would be a person with time to set aside for small activities and events. It can be as easy as having a list in the kitchen of fun free stuff that everyone can join. It can be anything! A walk and talk around the block with a pre-assigned topic which can help shy people open up. A bookclub, recipe-sharing or anything that floats your boat and creates some happiness in the office.
Employer branding isn’t all fun and games though, it is the way you do things. To have a resource set up a clear recruitment process that gives a great impression and also encourages people to seek a position with you again is the goal. Skilled companies are able to recruit talent, retain talent, and also have repeat applicants that are striving to work with you and steadily modelling themselves into the talent that you need.
Inhouse relocation is done in some countries, usually not highly productive high labor costs countries though. Culture also plays part in this. Swedes tend to divide very clearly between professional versus private matters. Few HR and few companies want to get involved in personal matters. Hence, we are unprepared for how personal relocation gets. Not only will you learn everything about someone’s cat (yes, in one financial institution a cat move was so important to the talent moving that the managing director sent out a picture of “the famous cat” to everyone in HR) we can laugh, but you may get be far more information that you asked for.
If you are new in your role at the company getting involved in the relocation is likely to make you very popular with your HR colleagues as it is hard work and often means overtime. To get up to speed it’s a good idea to take some courses GMS certificates for instance with ERC (Employee Resources Counsel) it is fairly basic, but will give you a good idea of what to think of. As with everything “you don’t know what you don’t know” and if you are part of a team you can get a headstart learning from those that have done it before.
To successfully have a in-house team you can hire a relocation expert that has a minimum of 5 years of doing field work. They will know all the suppliers in the market, they will understand the rental law, and have navigated the choppy waters of the limited housing market which is a real pain to everyone.
Giving the relocation piece to someone and hope for the best isn’t a winning strategy as it is a profession in itself, and not an easy one. Hire talent in this area and make sure they are busy full time with taking care of new hires. It is a very intense job, you can compare it to doing year end reviews, it can’t be planned for (or well, yes it could but it tends to have many factors outside your agenda, examples would be VISA processing times, school calendars for children, housing market, and so on) this means when someone arrives, they really arrive and you will have to focus on them only. You can expect that a junior employee will need to be accompanied and helped around 30-40 hours and a more senior person with a family in tow will take around 60-80 hours. That is 1-2 weeks full time and everything else has to be put aside in the meantime.
You will need a database for properties in most areas in Sweden as the housing shortage is severe. Advertising for properties or searching on online resources is very time consuming and often disappointing as the market moves very quickly, people that like to plan and be in control will find it frustrating.
In small remote areas, HR is likely to have a smoother ride than in the metropolitan areas. We often see that country locations require less to settle a family, while the cultural training aspects can become much more important and also the social support with integrating newbies with their colleagues.
We have covered the education and skills needed to tackle the complexities of welcoming talent from abroad in a good way. It is very time consuming and requires quite a bit of knowledge, but it is also very rewarding to see the smile and sigh of relief from the talent when things fall into place. It is no coincidence because it is a very labor and knowledge intensive job to care for expatriates. Given that they are often the most important resource to companies, closing pressing skills gaps may even be crucial for your company’s survival.
Having relocation partners to lean on is essential. Just as we all know “it takes a village” to raise a child, it takes lots of partners to welcome a new employee.
If you’re planning to bring foreign talent to Sweden, navigating an unfamiliar culture and immigration process can slow you down. Thankfully, Nimmersion’s Immigration Guide to Bringing Foreign Talent to Sweden is here to help. Let’s get your new talent down to business.