With a growing number of entrepreneurs and companies looking to go global, there’s a focus on expansion into emerging markets such as China, Africa and India. Adding new destinations and then fully supporting them takes an incredible amount of lead-time. Human Resource Executive Magazine interviewed Steve Papermaster about Powershift company, Appconomy’s expat program in China. Today we’re going to shed some more light on the challenges involved in starting and running a successful expat program specifically in China, and some of the important factors that Appconomy took into consideration.
Having spent more than 20 years immersing himself in Chinese culture, Steve realized the incredible benefits businesses could receive when they are able to access a talented group of people that aren’t culture or location-bound. Unsurprisingly, China was one of the countries Appconomy decided to target first - having successfully founded an NGO in China, co-written a Chinese language book in collaboration with one of China’s largest publishers, and served on a White House advisory group for 8 years, his vast experience along with China’s market and consumer behaviors made the country a natural choice.
What has made the Appconomy expat program successful?
In-depth Professional and Personal Goal Management – Perhaps the most important part of the expat program is the goal management and analysis performed before placing anyone in a job. We work hard to ensure that both the professional and personal goals of the employee are well aligned.
Holistic and Comprehensive Approach – Not only is it important to look at things such as a candidates’ employment situation, but to also assist them with family and housing needs as well. Really strive to make the entire experience great on multiple levels, so that candidates will really look back on their experience fondly.
Short Term Assignments To Keep Things Fresh – In contrast to other expat programs, Appconomy keeps assignments shorter term – generally 2 years or less. This helps to keep the experience fun, focused, and exciting for the candidates.
What are the challenges Appconomy faced in China?
Compliance with International Law – Dealing with the complexities of International law, and the various differences from country to country in terms of immigration is one of the most difficult tasks the program faced.
On-the-ground Management Needs – Building and maintaining a network of people to provide on the ground assistance is also time consuming and complex. We work hard to ensure the security and well-being of all our employees, even in unfamiliar environments.
Managing and Minimizing Expenses – When associated costs are factored with supporting an expat and their family, the total amount of money spent can sometimes be significantly more than what it would cost to find a domestic employee.
So how did Appconomy deal with the serious issues they faced?
Select the Right Candidate – First, make an absolute best attempt to ensure the right selection of candidates for each position. Also, work hard to meet the expat’s goals, but help support them in their making important and meaningful work that adds value to the company.
Provide Extensive Education – Being knowledgable is another important step in dealing with these challenges. Cultural awareness, skills, understanding, and language are all addressed in a fun-team building environment, which is absolutely essential for a modern, multinational corporation.
Have HR Professionals in Each Country – Have on-the-ground, highly experienced HR professionals located in each office for each country who are available to help with administrative concerns or anything else.
Carefully Craft Policies – All policies and best practices, such as focus on shorter-term assignments, help keep goals clear and problems to a minimum.
Invest Locally – Being part of the local scene helps get a plug in to the economy in ways that are extremely useful, and not immediately apparent. For example in China Appconomy has partnerships with China Telecom and Neusoft, providing access to strong, real partners.
Moving forward, Appconomy will spend a more time making high quality, cost-efficient decisions to support the lives of their expats and their families, such as locating schools, housing, and other time consuming personal choices. Ultimately, they have sights that this will position Appconomy as one of the leading sources of top quality expatriate labor in the biggest labor market in the world.