International Employees: Embracing a World of Talent Together

By August 17, 2023HR & Recruitment

Looking to take your business global? Hiring international team members could be a game-changing move.

Having staff based abroad or coming from diverse cultures brings invaluable new perspectives. Their global savvy provides insider knowledge to help you thrive in international markets.

Sure, navigating cross-border hiring has challenges. But with some planning upfront, you can overcome legal and logistical hurdles.

First, decide if you want employees to work remotely overseas, in foreign offices, or relocate domestically. Each approach has different considerations around local laws, visas, taxes, payroll, etc. Do your homework to make strategic choices.

Onboarding global employees may take extra work, too – like ensuring adherence to local laws and setting clear expectations. But take those steps, and you’ll set the stage for a highly rewarding, mutually beneficial relationship.

International talent is worth the effort. Their diversity and cultural fluency will give your organization a competitive edge at home and globally.

Why should you work with international employees?

In today’s economy, your hiring strategy can truly set you apart. Here’s why inviting international and local talent to your team is a smart move.

  • Fresh ideas, bold innovation—International employees provide a unique perspective.
  • Skills without borders—International employees have specialized skills that can fill in talent gaps in your team that you may not have been aware even exist.
  • Cultural smarts—International employees offer insights into different markets and cultures, helping you tailor your approach for maximum impact.
  • Agile response to changes—Change is the only constant. International employees thrive in dynamic environments, ensuring your team stays agile and ready for any challenge.
  • Connect globally—International employees have a built-in network, opening doors to exciting partnerships and collaborations.
  • Unity in diversity—A team that embraces differences is a team that thrives. International employees can strengthen an environment of respect, making everyone feel valued.
  • Bridging the language gap—International employees bring multilingual magic, boosting customer relationships and teamwork.
  • Thinking Globally, Acting Locally—International employees are your bridge between global strategy and local finesse. They ensure your decisions resonate worldwide while being spot-on locally.

International talent can fuel your company’s growth, ignite innovation, and take your company places you’ve never been before. It’s time to embrace the world’s best and make your mark.

Definition of international employees

Having team members abroad or coming from overseas brings amazing diversity to your organization. International employees offer unique value, whether they work remotely, in your global offices, or have relocated from their home country.

Harnessing their diverse cultural perspectives and unique life experiences, international employees bring a vibrant tapestry to every corner of your company. Your global colleagues don the role of cultural ambassadors, enabling you to comprehend and effectively engage with audiences across their respective regions.

International employees also bring specialized language skills and local business know-how you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Their global savvy can give your company a competitive edge.

Make an effort to add and integrate talented individuals from across the world. The more diversity of thought and background on your team, the more perspective and innovation you’ll gain. Let international colleagues broaden your organization’s horizons.

The difference between employees and contractors

Regarding global recruitment, it’s crucial to differentiate between employees and independent contractors.

Employees are directly employed by your company, receiving compensation and comprehensive benefits like health insurance, paid leave, and retirement contributions.

In contrast to paying employees, contractors are self-employed individuals or businesses that provide specific services to your company on a project basis.

When hiring internationally, determining whether to hire an employee or engage a contractor depends on the nature of the work, your organization’s structure, international and payroll laws, and local labor laws.

The advantages of working with international employees

International employees provide several advantages to your organization:

  • Diverse perspectives—They bring unique ideas and views to the table, which can lead to creative problem-solving and innovation.
  • Access to specialized skills—When you search for talent globally, you’ll discover people with specialized skills that might be rare or unavailable in your home country3.
  • Language and cultural knowledge—International employees can bridge language and cultural gaps, making it easier for your company to expand and operate in foreign markets.
  • Global presence—With team members in different time zones, your company can provide 24-hour support and improve communication with clients and partners worldwide.

Hiring and retaining international employees

International talent brings exclusive value. Employees from abroad offer diverse perspectives, cultural fluency, and market know-how.

While global hiring has challenges, the benefits outweigh the efforts.

Prioritize recruiting across borders to drive growth.

Recruitment process

When hiring employees, it’s important to analyze the possibilities and decide where you want them to work. This becomes very important when hiring an international employee.

Most international workers will generally be remote employees, working from home or a regional office. But wherever they work, the recruitment process will largely be the same.

  1. Identify staffing needs—Determine where you will need workers and their status with your company. Will they be remote employees, foreign employees who work at a regional office, or independent contractors?
  2. Research—When working internationally, it’s important to research the labor market and local and international laws regarding hiring.
  3. Develop a job description—You will need a comprehensive job description that accurately outlines responsibilities, requirements, and expectations. Create an ad that is in compliance with local employment laws.
  4. Select recruiting tools—Choose the best recruiting method, such as job boards, local recruitment agencies, or online platforms.
  5. Verify compliance—Different countries have different labor laws, and within those countries, there may be regions or cities with labor laws that are specific to their area. Make sure that you’re following all applicable laws and cultural practices during the hiring process.

Remember to be open to diversity and adapt your recruitment process accordingly. This will help attract top talent from different parts of the world.

Skills confirmation

Confirming a candidate’s skills is a crucial step in the recruitment process.

It becomes more challenging when your company is considering international candidates, but it’s still important to verify that candidates have the necessary qualifications and abilities for the role.

Skills Assessment Tests

Incorporating skills tests into the hiring process enhances the accuracy of candidate assessments, reduces the risk of mismatches, and ultimately leads to better hiring decisions that benefit both the organization and the candidates themselves.

Administering skills tests to candidates holds significant importance for a variety of reasons:

  • Accurate Assessment—Skills tests provide a practical and unbiased measure of a candidate’s capabilities. They go beyond self-reported skills on resumes, offering tangible evidence of a candidate’s proficiency.
  • Objective Evaluation—Skills tests are designed with specific criteria and standards in mind. This ensures that all candidates are evaluated using the same benchmarks, minimizing bias and subjectivity in the assessment process.
  • Reduced Risk—Hiring based solely on interviews and resumes carries the risk of overestimating a candidate’s skills. Skills tests help mitigate this risk by proving a candidate’s aptitude.
  • Efficient Screening—Administering skills tests early helps filter out candidates who lack the required competencies. This streamlines the selection process, allowing you to focus on candidates who are more likely to succeed in the role.

Performance-based assessments

Another candidate testing option are performance-based assessments.

Performance-based assessments test candidates’ abilities to apply their skills to job tasks.

  • Job-relevant—The assessments mimic actual work tasks and challenges specific to the open role. This tests skills needed to succeed on the job.
  • Interactive—They allow candidates to demonstrate skills in action through exercises, simulations, work samples, and discussions. It’s not just self-reported.
  • Objective—Assessments measure competencies against standardized benchmarks to provide unbiased insights into abilities.
  • Efficient—Online assessments streamline recruiting by screening candidates faster than lengthy interviews alone.
  • Data-driven—Performance data provides objective insights to compare candidates and make data-informed hiring decisions.

There are a number of companies offering performance-based assessments, but one company, TrueAbility, stands out.

TrueAbility has been at the forefront of performance-based assessments, but what makes them a great match for any company looking to expand overseas is the fact that they are truly international.

Industry leaders know the value of a strong certification program. Make a program even stronger by including real-world testing in a live technical environment.

Contact TrueAbility for a demo and find out how they can help your company.

Employee retention strategies

Keeping international employees engaged and satisfied also requires approaching retention slightly differently.

Implement the following strategies to retain international employees effectively:

  1. Cultural sensitivity—Cultivate an inclusive environment that values diverse backgrounds and perspectives and facilitates employees’ integration.
  2. Clear communication—Establish open communication channels to build trust and engagement among team members.
  3. Professional development—Offer growth opportunities and access to training, ensuring employees feel valued and motivated.
  4. Recognition and rewards—Express gratitude for employees’ contributions with bonuses, promotions, or other acknowledgment forms.

By promoting communication and collaboration, companies can develop a more productive and happier workplace where employees are likelier to stay longer.

Companies who use these strategies will create a mutually beneficial relationship with your international employees and foster a thriving work environment.

Legal and financial aspects

Understanding and effectively managing international employees’ legal and financial aspects enhances your company’s global workforce strategy.

By adhering to laws, promoting inclusivity, and providing equitable treatment, you can create a successful and harmonious work environment that crosses international barriers.

Work permits and visas

When hiring international employees, understanding the requirements for work permits and visas in foreign countries is essential.

This will help ensure that your overseas employees can legally work in their respective countries.

Additionally, the process for obtaining these permits and visas can vary by the host country, so you must familiarize yourself with each country’s specific requirements.

Some common types of visas and permits you may encounter include:

  • Temporary Work Visas—These visas allow employees to work in a country for a limited period, typically from a few months to a few years.
  • Intra-Company Transferee Visas—These visas are designed for employees transferring to offices within the same company.
  • Permanent Residence Visas—You may need to sponsor long-term employees for permanent residency.

Taxation rules

As an employer, you should know the tax rules and laws for international employees.

Both employees and employers are usually subject to taxation in the country where employees carry out their work.

In some cases, there might also be tax implications under employment law in an employee’s home country.

To minimize double taxation issues, many countries have tax treaties to avoid overlaps in taxation between multiple countries.

When hiring a foreign employee and international employees, it’s crucial to:

  •   Understand tax liabilities in both the employee’s home country and the country where they work.
  •   Withhold and remit the correct amount of taxes from employees’ paychecks.
  •   Comply with local tax filing requirements and deadlines.

Using an employer of record

One way to streamline hiring international employees is to use an Employer of Record (EOR).

An EOR is a third-party service provider that handles paying international employees and other administrative tasks.

An EOR allows companies to hire and manage international employees without having to establish a legal entity in the international employee’s country or handle global payroll compliance.

Working with an EOR simplifies the hiring process of international workers, lowers the administrative burdens on your company, and helps you remain in compliance with local labor law and others.

When working with an EOR, you can expect them to:

  •   Take responsibility for legal and regulatory compliance in the employee’s country.
  •   Oversee payroll, taxes, and additional administrative responsibilities.
  •   Manage the process for acquiring work permits and visas and confirm compliance with local laws.

Using an EOR will streamline your time and resources. This will allow your company to concentrate on developing business.

Cultural and language barriers

Adding international talent brings value but also requires thoughtful leadership. When cultures and languages collide, it can result in stumbling blocks that complicate collaboration.

Varied work styles, norms, and communication approaches may lead to misunderstandings or limited cohesion amongst global peers. Language gaps can also complicate information exchange.

Yet, with care, these hurdles are surmountable. Foster an inclusive environment that leverages diversity as a competitive edge. Offer language resources and cultural training to smooth integration.

With intentional support, international hires will not only survive but thrive as their perspectives supercharge innovation.

Working across cultures

Adding international staff members brings invaluable diversity, but it also presents challenges. Disparities in communication methods, values, and norms can lead to misunderstandings, complicating unity within global teams.

Nevertheless, with strategic leadership, these obstacles can be overcome.

Start by developing a culture of respect that encourages the open sharing of diverse experiences. Offer cultural awareness training to ensure employees value different viewpoints and cooperate courteously.

Although bridging cultural gaps may demand effort, the rewards are substantial. A supportive atmosphere founded on mutual respect can help your company realize the complete potential of international talent.

Their diverse perspectives will ignite innovation, propelling the organization ahead.

Global expansion encounters some difficulties, but we can achieve greater success when we work together.

Language training solutions

Language gaps can also impede international teams. English fluency varies amongst global employees, potentially limiting productivity.

Address this through language training initiatives. Assess needs and set clear goals for improvement. Provide learning resources and track progress with feedback.

Strengthening language skills empowers employees to communicate confidently with global peers and clients. It enhances collaboration and work quality.

Acknowledging language barriers shows international hires you support their success. Offering improvement resources demonstrates your commitment to inclusion.

With understanding and effort, language is surmountable. And the reward is a thriving, diverse team propelling your organization forward internationally. Don’t shy away from growth obstacles – lean into them.

Benefits of international employees

Adding global perspectives and experiences can strengthen your company, expand your market reach, and ignite innovation.

Employees from abroad bring unique worldviews shaped by their diverse cultural backgrounds. They offer insider knowledge of global markets, specialized language skills, and fresh approaches to problem-solving.

International team members also enhance creativity and inclusion company-wide.

While onboarding international workers presents some logistical hurdles, the long-term value is worth the investment.

Enhanced diversity

Hiring international employees can significantly improve the diversity within your company. This brings fresh perspectives and unique experiences that can stimulate creativity and innovation among your team.

Embracing a diverse workforce also helps create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.

A stronger diversity in your workforce can lead to greater problem-solving skills, enhanced decision-making, and increased employee engagement.

It’s crucial to recognize and appreciate the value that international employees can bring to your organization through their varied backgrounds and cultural insights.

Expanding business horizons

Another notable benefit of hiring international employees is the opportunity for your business to expand into new markets.

These employees often possess in-depth knowledge about local markets, social norms, and customer preferences in their home country, which can help your business to target demographics and purchasing patterns better.

By including international employees in your organization, you can utilize their unique skills and connections to enhance your company’s global market presence. Additionally, their language skills can help you communicate more effectively with clients, partners, and customers in other countries, breaking down barriers and increasing the efficiency of your global operations.

In summary, international employees benefit your organization significantly through enhanced diversity and expanded business horizons. By embracing a global workforce, you’re positioning your company for success in today’s increasingly international marketplace.

Challenges with international employees

Time zone differences

One challenge you may face when managing international employees is dealing with time zone differences. This can make scheduling difficult, especially when team members are scattered across various countries.

To overcome this hurdle, consider the following:

  •   Use a time zone converter to find suitable meeting times for all participants.
  •   Rotate meeting schedules so that each team member occasionally has the chance to attend during their regular working hours.
  •   Implement asynchronous communication methods like email, Slack, or project management tools, allowing team members to contribute when it’s most convenient for them.

Make sure to stay mindful of full-time employees in your team’s time zones and try to accommodate them whenever possible.

Cultural misunderstandings

Another challenge is cultural misunderstandings. Cultural differences can result in miscommunications or even conflicts among team members. To minimize such issues, consider implementing the following strategies:

  •   Provide cultural sensitivity training for your employees. This will help them understand and appreciate the differences among colleagues from various backgrounds.
  •   Create an open communication environment, encouraging team members to freely express their thoughts and ask questions when encountering unfamiliar customs or practices.
  •   Be patient and empathetic. Recognize that misunderstandings may occur, and try to address and resolve them respectfully.

By being aware of the potential challenges and taking proactive steps to mitigate them, you can create a more collaborative and harmonious work environment for your international team.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a U.S. company hire a foreign employee remotely?

U.S. companies can hire international employees legally. Using an employer of record handles payroll, taxes, and compliance abroad. Contracting allows access to global talent pools. Key steps: research laws in relevant countries, set contractual agreements, pay market rates, and provide 1099s. With proper legal safeguards, contracting unlocks global team capabilities.

Are foreigners who work for U.S. companies subject to U.S. taxes?

U.S. companies do not need to withhold or report U.S. taxes on foreign wages paid to international contractors. The IRS considers income earned by nonresident aliens for work performed outside the U.S. to be foreign source income. It is, therefore, not subject to U.S. tax rules or reporting requirements. However, companies should issue 1099 forms to contractors for U.S.-sourced income like sales commissions or services delivered to U.S. clients. The contractor must report their total income and pay taxes according to their country’s laws. U.S. companies simply facilitate by providing 1099s for any U.S. payments. With this differentiation, U.S. companies can legally hire international contractors without complex cross-border tax obligations. This global access diversifies teams with premier talent worldwide.

Are foreign employees protected against discrimination?

No, companies cannot legally discriminate against foreign employees during hiring, firing, or recruitment based on their citizenship status or national origin. U.S. anti-discrimination laws protect both citizens and non-citizens from discrimination. All employees, including noncitizen nationals, asylees, refugees and permanent residents are shielded from biased treatment regardless of immigration status. The only exception is if a legal requirement makes citizenship status a stipulation for employment. Otherwise, basing decisions on national origin or citizenship is prohibited.


Hiring international employees can bring numerous benefits to your organization.

By widening your talent pool, you can find skilled individuals with unique experiences and perspectives, fostering diversity of thought. This can increase creativity, productivity, and access to new markets.

While you may face some challenges, such as language barriers and navigating local legal entity requirements, it’s important to remember that the advantages of having a global workforce often outweigh these difficulties.

As you endeavor to hire international employees, stay informed about relevant employment laws and regulations and be open to cultural differences.

Doing so can create a workplace environment that values respect, collaboration, and shared learning.

Finally, remember that communication is vital in managing a global team.

Be mindful of potential misunderstandings or misinterpretations, and provide a platform for open dialogue where employees can voice their concerns or share their ideas.

Your diverse workforce can thrive and contribute positively to your organization’s success with intentionality and dedication.

Jodi Mai began her career as a recruiter after college. She moved into an HR Generalist role and later, into HR management, working on such topics as employee relations, benefit administration, and payroll. Over the last 15 years, she has worked in the talent acquisition and management industry, and since 2018, Jodi has expanded to HR consulting and writing on HR and recruitment topics.

Learn more about TrueAbility—an industry leader in providing assessment testing and has experience offering testing, certification, and training to companies, such as Google, SUSE, VMWare etc.

About TrueAbililty

TrueAbility is a trusted global performance-based technical assessment provider offering a community ecosystem allowing technical professionals and employers to collaborate and measure skill sets through AbilityScreen®. AbilityScreen is the only fully-managed performance-based technical assessment platform operating in a live, cloud environment that automates recruiting and hiring processes to definitively assess and qualify a technical professional’s technology experience.

TrueAbility has executed over 20,000 technical assessments logging more than 18,000 hours of live server practical skill evaluations. Employers have collectively hired hundreds of qualified technical professionals for specific job positions across an array of industries. Founded in 2012, TrueAbility is privately held and headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, please visit

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