View in Berlin
View in Berlin

Good human resources management in an international company means getting the right people in the right jobs at the right time. But what is your version of right? There is no one size fits all approach to hiring that means there are no risks and what is right for other digital startups might not be right for yours. If you are thinking about what  the right way is for your company to expand into Europe please read on.

If this is your company’s first step into the relative unknown that is the European market, it’s not possible to get away from the fact that it is different from North America. There are different cultures to deal with. While an American employee may brag about the amount of hours they have worked that week or the lack of vacation days taken that year a European worker is legally entitled to paid time off and will expect to take it. And its not just holidays, there are organisational cultures which vary from U.S. to E.U. too.

Profit is not the only motivator, society as a whole is more of consideration as well and there is far more bureaucracy as a rule in European countries. Having an insider who is used to dealing with the vagaries of town officials and their requests could be invaluable.

If the main base for your company is going to stay in the U.S. then you need to have people you can trust, and who subscribe to your values, in control. It is crucial that they project your company’s principles through your expansion. You might be roughly 5 and a half thousand miles or more away and its unrealistic to be expect to be able to micromanage at that distance (and with those time zones). It might feel safer to send someone who you know, and who knows your company’s way of working. But safer isn’t always better and relocating to another continent is a big commitment. Will your go-to guy (or girl) be able to make that kind of pledge? Would you want them to? Anyone who is going to cross half the world is not going to be able to do it at the drop of a hat.

If you are looking to expand across the Atlantic, it is likely that you are also wanting to grow your network, something which is made much easier with people who have fully developed support infrastructures. If it is truly not what, but who you know, then having the right contacts can be crucial.

Also, having fresh input into your company could be invaluable for the development of your company. The different cultures mentioned earlier will result in a different world view, and fresh eyes might be able to solve a problem you didn’t even know existed. This influx could provide the innovation that turn your great idea into a game-changer. And let’s face it, you are not truly a multinational company while you are exclusively hiring American employees, albeit in “non-American” locations.

Another important factor to bear in mind is speed of delivery. If a week is a long time in politics, 6 months can be a lifetime when it comes to digital start-ups. What is hot right now can quickly become obsolete, or have its potential market wiped out by a competitor who just got to market that little quicker. Although notice periods tend to be longer in Europe (typically 3 months), this compares favorably with the time it would take to relocate the necessary American resources. Once you take into account that the EU is churning out over 2 million graduates a year,  across all fields the future suddenly looks bright when it comes to finding the right talent to help your company progress further.

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