How to find talent in a shrinking global talent pool

November 8, 2021 |

This article focuses on compliance while looking to find talents in a shrinking talent pool. Businesses are caught in a never ending race to compete for talent and oftentimes getting skilled workers is not just difficult, but downright and simply impossible. Now, more than ever, there is a fierce competition for talent requiring companies to adapt and they need to adapt fast from various perspectives. 

How should professionals address the skill gap while hiring talent? What has been your strategy to capture talent and lure them into joining you and not your competitors? Were there any key struggles?


Atirek Gautam: The first biggest struggle used to be the excess demand and technology versus the limited talent pool supply. The second problem is the skill gap itself. And I think the third fundamental problem that we are all experiencing is the lack of skilled workforce in emerging technologies and very new technologies like cyber security, bots, machine learning, artificial intelligence, the talent attraction, specially in niche technology, space revolves mostly around passive candidates. 

We use the best algorithm to find the various techies through the source forums, and then we try to initiate a dialogue. It is believed that 20% of the talent pool is the only active talent pool in the market. But the good story is that 80% of the talent pool, people who are not active, are willing to have a dialogue about a new exciting opportunity. This means that everybody is open to having a dialogue. 

If you still feel that there is a shortage of talent pool, that’s where you need to go and do what we call lateral hiring, try to find the right talent. I think what has been a transformation for all of us in talent acquisition is to hire talent, which is more around transferable skills and not focus on a particular technology, because we know technology will change, right? And then people will have to change – either upskill or or rescale. Try to build as many as you can, and focus on transferable skills of people, which means once they are onboard, can we rescale them and align it to some other demand. Otherwise we will share it with somebody who’s doing exactly the same job, and it will possibly mean that we will hire much lesser lateral guys from the market and rely more on internal talent capabilities.

Did you have any, any special special strategy to bring those talents from elsewhere?


Atirek Gautam: A couple of things, which have changed in the last 18 months, is that we are talking about work from anywhere. So, somebody does not have to pack their bag and, you know, lift and shift. I think one of the strategies has been to align people to where they are, and enable them to complete the task from wherever they are. The focus area for us has been around work, what kind of work we are doing, then is the workforce who is doing the job. And third is the workplace from where the job is getting done. 

When we talk about the core strategy, our focus is around all these three areas of work, workforce and workplace. That’s how we are trying to deliver the needs of the market and the demand that is definitely bigger than what it ever was.

What are the experts doing given the shortage of labour force?


Percy Grenardo: One of the major things that I’ve noticed that companies are having a problem with now is the fact that because of Corona, we’ve been in a situation where companies had to adjust their own way of handling their employees. And the employees that are actually looking around, because they weren’t pretty happy with where they are and what they’re doing, they’ve realized that working from home/ working from anywhere has given them the basis to say “this is what’s made me happy.”

I think customers are now finding it far more difficult to pry people away from other companies, because the basis of how they recruited before in the past, doesn’t exist anymore. So they’ve had to figure out new ways to attract talents. This is all very new. Often it is work in progress. I suppose their needs have totally changed. It’s not necessarily only about monetary returns. It’s about life-work balance.

What would be the key compliance issues in terms of immigration/tax/social security that your clients usually face in their search for talents?


Ira Lemmetyinen: When we talk about international talent, we all know that the companies are recruiting employees from a global talent pool. When employing a lot with a local work contract, obviously, the work and residence permits are needed and the immigration. I think it’s always one of the key issues when it comes to compliance. This is probably a global issue, the salaries, the qualification, so nowadays, we talk mostly about highly qualified professionals in these industries. And when we recruit people from different markets, and they’re different in salary levels, companies are competing for the same talent in different destinations. So the companies need to make sure that they’ll frame their competency in the global context, not only nationally. But then again, also nationally. 

The authorities set a minimum salary level for the highly qualified professional so companies need to adjust the salaries, not only with their market prices, but also to make them fit the criteria for the permits. We all know that we talk about highly qualified professionals. However, with these profiles, sometimes these professionals have the skills, but they might not have the degrees, a paper. And the administration or the immigration authorities often struggle with understanding this fact. 

And then of course, tax might be an issue, but it’s also a factor that might help to attract talent. It’s also so important that the countries set up special tax regimes for the type of talent they want to attract etc. 

Personally, I find the corporate immigration space quite reasonable and the authorities are making progress to keep the markets competitive. As you mentioned, they are not only looking for the perfect job, they are looking for a lifestyle. There are some destinations that obviously have an advantage compared with other locations.

Would you say that WFA/remotely has an impact on employees’ application process? Is this a viable option for companies?


Percy Grenardo: Compliance is different in Europe, and they are where I am at the moment in the Middle East. They vary from country to country. In Europe, you have things like insurance, you have pensions, the cross border living standards that make such a difference for the same company. Employing the same person into different European countries creates a massive problem for individual companies. So the bigger companies have an advantage, but the small to medium sized companies, the hidden champions, are the ones that are actually really struggling to find personnel.

It’s not necessarily what a company pays, but it’s also the tax arrangements within the countries. If someone is working in the country within six months or five months, where do they pay taxes? Companies have to figure out a way of how they can entwine individuals from around the world in Europe. They have the blue card, but that’s a luxury. So there’s so many problems, which I see that they’re going to be complete struggles for now. This has allowed us to actually make things easier in one way. 

Ira Lemmetyinen: The challenge there is that it’s not up to one country to decide. So it may need to be coordinated with the national government and it will take time. And the countries and regions actually do get into agreement when it comes to taxing when it comes to social security, pensions, health care, labor law now, etc. So it’s a big, big thing to discuss.

What would be the new negotiation points currently on the market? What do employees nowadays want as benefits? Did the pandemic change the paradigm? Are the employers aware of what the employees want? 


Percy Grenardo: It depends a lot on the industry. One is, in some industries, it’s not possible to work from home, you have to be present. Because we have now actually introduced a mandatory home office opportunity, whether it’s one day, two days or three days a week, it is something that some say work from home. It’s not work from anywhere in the world, because you can’t really work in certain countries depending on all the problems that are out there. There are candidates now who realize that the time they worked until nine o’clock at night, just to please the boss, does not exist anymore. That’s one of their bargaining tools, where they say: “Listen, my life at this precise moment, I can take my children to this, I can do that, I can go to the doctor’s, I can do everything I wish to do and still do my work.”

 A lot of companies have actually realized that their productivity has actually increased over the last couple of years, because people are actually working on the weekends, they’ve got their laptop, they are working whenever they have spare time. It is really a positive aspect in the manner of the candidates. So if a company does not realize that these are tangible benefits, that they really have a great deal more meaning than just money, then they will have a huge problem going forward.

What alternatives do employees have if they wish to work remotely from Spain? Is remote work allowed based on a visitor status or is Spain having in place one of the recently nomad/remote worker visas that some countries already implemented or are planning to implement? How does this help businesses? Have you had clients already using it?

Ira Lemmetyinen: I think it depends, we need to first define what is working remotely. So there are different ways of working remotely, some people just want to go on holidays, and then extend the stay for a couple of more weeks, or even a month and into companies will come to us and ask, this particular employee wants to stay in Spain for a month, is that possible to work from there. 

But it’s very different from somebody choosing to establish residency in Spain and work permanently from here to another destination. So obviously, when it comes to compliance, and the different tools that are there, the regulation provides, so it’s a very different situation. Based on the visit status, let’s say, when it comes to Europeans, it’s very common that people just travel and it’s easier.

But when it comes to longer stays, for non EU nationals (more than 90 days), then it needs to be regulated. So a visa is necessary. I think most of the countries that do not have the necessary regulation or Visa type are still in place for these types of stay. Some countries have implemented those, but most of the countries kind of try to not make that as those scenarios fit in what exists at the moment. For example, in Spain, at the moment, we don’t have a specific visa type for non EU nationals who want to stay and a freelancer visa, it’s very difficult to get at the moment. So you really have to demonstrate that you have a solid business case and business project and you will generate income. So it’s out of the question in most of the cases.

What is more commonly used are the so-called non local activities, as when you don’t have lucrative activity in the destination, but work for another country. That’s basically the only option today. It’s not completely correct, either, because you’re not supposed to be having a look at activity. But that’s the only tool we have at the moment. However, now the Spanish government is working on the so-called startup law, which is an initial draft of a new law, hopefully implemented in a reasonable time from now. 

That’s one of the features that law is going to bring is their visa for remote international remote workers and digital nomads. Compared to what other countries have in place. So it also enables long term stays so that there’s no limitation like for one year only, so it’s renewable. And it will enable companies to allow people to work from Spain and those individuals that choose Spain to establish their residency long term. 

I think it will be a quite reasonable process to get that in place. But first, so it’s not there yet, but it’s under process. And I think that’s a very positive thing to see from the studies authorities that they are working on it.

What is a good strategy to retain talent and reduce the high dependency of hiring new talent in this context of limited talents? Are there different strategies for different generational cohorts (Gen X, Gen Y, etc)

Atirek Gautam: Yes, the strategies have to be different. Because we are dealing with managing very different workforces. If we traveled back in time and looked at Gen X, they were basically part of the era which we call the information revolution. 

Their predecessors did the basic lifestyle amenities, this generation actually came to work to upgrade their lifestyle. So their loyalty was very easy to buy. As long as you’re giving them perks on time, salaries on time. They actually didn’t care too much about the work environment, work-life balance, because they knew that this is the only way to upgrade your life. 

Now, you look at what has happened today – 2020 or 2021. We’re dealing with millennials. All the way right 60-70% of the workforce is either a Gen Y or a Gen Z. They are part of the social revolution. It’s a very different era. For them, the quality of work is their priority, flexibility is their priority. Instant gratification is their priority. And these are the attributes, which is keeping them possibly at one place. And that wouldn’t be for a very long period anyway. 

They treat these elements above loyalty. Now, what does that mean for us? What is a good strategy? 

A good strategy is first to acknowledge that one size doesn’t fit. We’re talking about a different generation, and you’re trying to offer them flexibility of work. The system cannot be one universal system for all, we need to build an ecosystem that has the rewards, which is more aligned to the needs and the aspiration of these workforces. So I think if we are able to distinguish, put different plans for people and we clearly know the aspiration, I think that’s a good strategy to retain the workforce.

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