It’s a tough labor market out there. The global pandemic didn’t just turn that market upside down — it turned it inside out as well.

As a result of a drastic reshuffling of the labor force, many companies are struggling to fill their open positions. What happens if you have exhausted attempts to find workers in domestic waters? You start looking across borders and across the pond.

Recruiting, hiring, paying, and retaining workers from other countries can be a daunting task, however. If you have already hired one global employee or many, you have an idea about some of the challenges. If you are considering your initial foray into global hiring, there’s one thing you should know.

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Most countries require companies to establish a legal entity within the country to hire their citizens as employees. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to open a branch office, though. You may simply need a partner, such as an employer of record (EOR), to provide that legal presence for you. Otherwise, you can work with a professional employer organization (PEO) to co-employ workers where you already own an entity.

The EOR vs. PEO debate may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. If you have established a legal entity in the country where you’re hiring, you can enter a co-employment agreement with a PEO. The PEO can handle things like payroll and benefits administration on your behalf.

If you don’t have a business presence in the country you want to hire from, partner with an EOR instead. The EOR is the legal entity and, on paper, your global employees work for the EOR. However, people employed through an EOR work with you just like any of your other employees. You control the hiring and personnel decisions while being protected by the EOR from legal liability.

There are 195 countries in the world. Deciding where to look for your next top performer is more manageable if you first narrow the field. Here are five countries to consider recruiting from and why you should.

1. Finland

We live in an era where a growing number of employees are discontented with their jobs and their work-life balance. In 2022, Finland held onto the No. 1 spot in the World Happiness Report for the fourth year in a row. Why not explore hiring employees where they’re already happier with their lives?

Of course, part of Finland’s happiness comes from generous benefits and leave policies brought about by collective bargaining. If you want to employ workers in this Nordic country, you will have to comply. (If you have an EOR, it will do all the heavy lifting on those issues for you.)

If you’re looking for cheap labor, you won’t find it here, where the cost of living is relatively high. But if you’re looking for hard-working, well-educated employees, do take a look. As a bonus, many people here speak English as well as Finnish, which makes language less of a barrier.

2. Spain

With an unemployment rate hovering around 14%, there are a lot of job seekers in Spain. Higher education attainment among middle-aged adults is comparatively low in Spain. But Millennials are earning degrees in higher and higher numbers, and they’re ready to go to work.

Spain’s cost of living is lower than many other European Union countries. Its healthcare system and infrastructure, including high-speed internet availability, are strong. Because it’s an EU member, it shares some common employment laws and mobility advantages with other EU countries.

If you’re a U.S. company, employing native Spanish speakers can help you better serve your Spanish-speaking customers and even open new markets. And many Spanish citizens speak English (as well as other languages), thus reducing language difficulties with stateside colleagues.

3. India

India’s geographic space and burgeoning population make it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. There are many regional languages spoken, which is probably why English is so widely spoken throughout the country.

Higher education is a major industry in India, which means there’s a lot of well-educated talent in the job market. The unemployment rate fluctuates but tends to be more than double the U.S. rate. As a result, there’s talent to be had.

The cost of living and the cost of doing business in India are substantially lower than in the U.S. Employment laws are fragmented by state, which makes compliance a bit more challenging. If that’s the only reason you aren’t exploring India for employees, leave the complexities to your EOR.

4. Indonesia

This is a country with an impressive higher education system that’s churning out degreed workers. Most of them are young, hungry, and multilingual. They’re also living in the most formidable economy in Southeast Asia.

The technology sector is huge in Indonesia, so if you’re looking for employees in tech-related positions, you might strike gold. If you’re looking for non-tech talent, the pickings will be slimmer.

Indonesia’s cost of living is about half of that in the U.S., while its unemployment rate is slightly higher. That makes it a promising source of talented workers who won’t send your labor costs through the roof. And since English is the official language of commercial transactions, it’s an easy country to do business with.

5. Canada

If you’re a U.S. company looking to dip into the global employee market, consider crossing a border rather than an ocean. The culture of our neighbors to the north is very similar. If you’ve ever watched a TV show without realizing until later it was Canadian, you understand the concept.

English is the dominant language, but if you want employees who speak fluent French, they’re easy to find. The two countries’ education systems are similar, but Canada’s ranks higher than the United States’. The overall cultural symmetry will make Canadian hires relatively simple to integrate into your workforce.

Perhaps one of the best things about hiring Canadian employees is their proximity. You can visit them or bring them to you without significant trouble or expense. Going global doesn’t mean you have to go halfway around the globe.

Technology has made the world a much smaller place. At the same time, the pandemic proved many employees can work remotely. It’s never been a better time to look at diversifying your employee mix by recruiting in work-friendly countries like these.

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