February 20, 2023
Any business that is looking to grow its consumer base or expand into new markets is likely to be relying on digital technology to a greater extent than ever before both in their operations and management. This also means that the world of employment, both for workers and enterprises, is necessarily evolving too. An inevitable consequence of this evolution has been that those for whom technology has been an essential part of their life and education — so-called digital natives — are in growing demand.
It tends to be the case that this generation in many respects thinks, learns and experiences the world differently to those who came before them. This can mean that digital natives bring value, expertise and a new outlook to enterprises in a variety of different ways, which can be essential in a rapidly evolving business environment.
At the same time, globalization has meant that enterprises of almost any size are now engaged in a worldwide battle for the best digital native talent. National borders are no longer a barrier when it comes to hiring workers, either as employees or as independent contractors, with strong digital natives are increasingly sought after.
However, while being able to hire digital natives from a global talent pool is naturally appealing, it also brings with it a range of challenges of which enterprises might not be aware. These relate both to the expectations of a digital native workforce, in terms of recruitment practices and work environment, as well as the inherent difficulties in hiring workers in a country other than your own.
It also needs to be borne in mind that The Great Resignation has hit the tech industry particularly hard, and so retaining tech talent has become more challenging than ever, with some research suggesting that only around 30% of those working in the tech industry intend to stay in any one position long term. Asu such creating an environment that is designed to help digital natives to thrive is key to staff retention.
Challenges and benefits of engaging digital natives
It is undoubtedly the case that digital natives can bring an array of talents to any enterprise, whether engaged in the tech industry directly, or in other sectors where digital technology plays an important role. However, these talents can be less immediately tangible than simply their technical expertise.
For instance, you can expect anyone from a digital native generation (usually someone classified as being either Gen Z or a Millennial) to bring a commitment to social responsibility to the workplace. They will also likely be intensely interested in issues surrounding environmental sustainability, and have an enthusiasm for engaging with other cultures.
At the same time, when you engage digital natives you are likely to be adding significant problem-solving skills to your team, as well as genuine passion for their chosen field.
How to hire and retain a digital native workforce
As a consequence of the above, hiring a digital native workforce, either as salaried employees or as independent contractors, may require companies to refocus their HR approach and do things differently than they might have in the past.
For instance, when advertising for digital natives to join your team in any capacity, it pays to highlight your organisation’s approach to social responsibility, as well as its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) protocols.
It might also be necessary to use social media and other online platforms in innovative ways to be able to connect with and engage the audience you want to reach.
You might also want to re-think the structure and content of your remuneration and benefit packages. This could include:
- Opportunities for hybrid working and remote working in an environment where both ‘real life’ and ‘virtual’ interactions and engagements are valued equally;
- Mental health support and provision;
- An aspirational workplace environment;
- Salaries that are in line with what people earn in major centres like London and New York, regardless of a worker’s own physical location; and
- Avoiding proximity bias, i.e., giving remote and hybrid workers the same opportunities for promotion, engagement, leadership roles, etc., as on-site workers.
Turn a workplace into a workspace
Even if a large proportion of your workforce is working remotely or in a hybrid setting, you are still likely to have on-site members of the team who will nevertheless need to interact with others, virtually as well as in person.
Therefore, it will be seen as beneficial to create a physical environment in which digital natives are more likely to thrive. For instance, the communications tech that you have in place should make having conversations both in person and online as smooth a process as possible. This is important because recent research has demonstrated that 81% of workers in the UK cite the quality, reliability and accessibility of workplace technology as being key to their levels of engagement.
To better engage with digital natives, meeting and other communal spaces should be conducive to promoting the flow and exchange of ideas, but without the formality associated with a traditional office or boardroom.
Likewise, access in and out of buildings should be seamless, i.e., with our cumbersome entry procedures, while there also needs to be flexibility as to how the individual team member is able to organise, use and share their workspace.
Challenges of hiring talent in a foreign country
In a global talent market place, where it is increasingly simple to hire workers based in countries other than your own, it is unsurprising that the best, most talented digital native workers are in demand worldwide.
However, there are some challenges associated with this that enterprises need to consider — they are far from insurmountable, but can nevertheless undermine efforts to assemble the best team possible if you are not familiar with them.
According to Papaya, a global payroll provider, if you have workers based overseas, and/or you operate in multiple locations simultaneously, you will need to have a regulation expert who will make sure you are compliant with local laws.
For instance, it can be easy to unknowingly fall foul of labour laws in jurisdictions with which you are not familiar in the area of worker classification. To avoid such a scenario developing, having access to someone who is familiar working in accordance with these regulations is essential.
Likewise, you will likely need to have someone on your team who understands how payroll is managed in any country in which you operate, with special regard to rates of pay, taxation and other deductions, leave and entitlements, etc.
It will also be necessary to have appropriate payment methods in place, to ensure that overseas workers are paid promptly, efficiently and in a currency of their choosing, at minimal cost to them. If you engage independent contractors, you will also need the services of someone who is experienced at drawing up and enforcing appropriate contractor agreements.
All of these issues can be relatively quickly and easily resolved by using the appropriate global payroll and HR platform, but nevertheless if is important for enterprises looking to hire overseas digital natives to be aware of what is required in advance.