Guest Column | May 20, 2021

Confident CFOs ‘Think Global' To Build Post-Pandemic Hiring And Workforce Management Strategies

By Nicole Sahin, Globalization Partners and EOR Industry


Business confidence is closely associated with a huge range of strategic and operational decisions in leadership teams across the world. A year ago, the outlook was bleak, to say the least - organizations were grappling with the impact of the pandemic, and almost all were flying blind with no previous experience to draw on and working with little insight into how difficult or prolonged the public health and economic crisis would become.

A year on, and for many, the situation is dramatically different. As vaccination programs gather pace globally, optimism is being replaced by confidence and finance leaders in businesses around the world.

Data indicating a dramatic boost in business confidence is becoming more readily available. Research published jointly by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) in April showed the largest increase in economic confidence since their study began 12 years ago. The report authors went on to say that they “expect global economic activity to return to its pre-Covid level from Q4 2019, later this year.”

A Global Talent Mindset

Research commissioned by Globalization Partners underlines the point. Canvassing the opinions of CFOs around the world, the study set out to understand how this key group of leaders view the ‘Pathway To Growth’. Among the top-line findings was that in 2021, CFOs are extremely optimistic and believe that their success is tied to global expansion. In fact, ninety-three percent of the surveyed executives predict that their companies will meet or exceed their 2021 goals and a resounding 81% are planning expansions into new countries as part of their long-term growth strategies.

This mindset, coupled with 12 months of workforce management and recruitment experience under remote working conditions has brought new focus to the way many CFOs approach global expansion. Received wisdom about how international teams should be recruited, organized - even where they should be based - has given way to real-world experience. In fact, many CFOs now understand that a new business imperative is to hire the best talent - irrespective of where it is found, and that employees are ready and waiting for the opportunity.

In fact, the Globalization Partners research also showed that CFOs are taking a global view within their business strategies and hiring approaches. For instance, they have a high degree of interest in tapping into a more cost-effective, global talent pool - an approach favored by 85% of respondents - and capturing market share through global expansion, which is favored by 81%. This is in contrast to answers given by CFOs a year ago when 63% said they were moving forward with global expansion plans in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The effect of this on hiring strategies is significant. Three-quarters of the executives in the survey also said the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered the way they think about hiring and workforce management and 81% revealed it altered how they consider remote employees or the work-from-anywhere model. More specifically, three-quarters of the survey respondents anticipate operating remote or hybrid workforce models in the next 12 to 18 months. And when asked to describe their hiring strategy over the next 12 to 18 months, 42% say they want to attract new talent that is unbounded by the geographic restrictions of their company’s operating model.

The challenge for CFOs is how to go about maximizing the opportunity that global remote teams provide from a long-term business perspective, including cost efficiency and access to hard-to-find talent. Given that the hubs for highly skilled talent are also shifting so that currently, half of the world's college graduates come from top emerging countries, it’s increasingly clear that companies that adopt this strategy now will be able to gain a competitive advantage in the future.

Confidence is a valuable commodity, but in many millions of businesses worldwide, it has been in short supply over the last year. With positivity comes a return to proactive business planning and ambitious businesses need to assess the ability of their teams, partners, and advisors to deliver on the exciting potential that international growth and recruitment can bring.

About The Author

Nicole Sahin is CEO and Founder of Globalization Partners and a visionary pioneer for the global Employer of Record (EOR) market.