• September 24, 2022

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In today’s hot labor market, with a difficult gap between talent demand and available resources, companies try to widen the area where they can recruit workers. They hunt for labor pools in new, smaller markets. Google and other tech companies are reaching out to labor markets on the West Coast and in small markets in remote cities. FedEx and other large companies are investing in expensive TV ads to reach workers in non-traditional labor pools. However, the signs are clear that a recession will be upon us in months, and the new strategies for expanding a labor pool often have long run times. What are the best approaches to expand labor pools now?

Three Current Strategies To Expand Labor Pools

Expand Work-from-Home. One strategy to widen labor pools is to leverage the work-from-home market. This strategy enables recruiting in cities and sometimes countries to find skilled, professional talent. This strategy is, perhaps, the easiest way to expand a company’s labor pool.

Expand GBS Centers. Another strategy companies are now using is establishing global business service (GBS) centers in areas beyond India, such as Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and the Caribbean. Companies today are paying a lot of attention to Latin America as a location for new service centers and development centers because of the availability of skilled resources.

However, as we contemplate the increasing probability of a recession and a hard landing in the economy, will that continue to be the case? Standing up a GBS center in Latin America, for instance, is a two-year exercise before the company can start to get benefits from it. And the people must be trained. The impact of that new GBS is not likely to fully hit for at least 18 months, and it is likely that we will be in a recession by then. The long run time, especially during a recession, is a significant factor to consider.

Expand Number of Service Providers. A third strategy is the ebb and flow of third-party service provider selection. Historically, companies go through a period where they add providers to their portfolio mix and then go through a period of rationalizing and consolidating their portfolio because they want to get better pricing and more control over the relationships. Administration is certainly easier with fewer providers. And, in theory, by consolidating spend, a company can lower its costs.

Currently, the ebb-and-flow cycle shows the market expanding, with companies increasing the number of providers in their portfolios. The driver: needing an assured supply of talent. They currently cannot get access to enough engineering talent or talent in general from their existing providers, so they add more.

This strategy has the shortest run time to realizing the benefits. Companies can easily add service providers with available talent capacity and get them spun up and working very quickly, as opposed to standing up a new GBS center in some locations. However, a looming recession means a company needs to consider how a recession might affect a particular service provider.

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All three strategies to widen labor pools are happening in today’s talent-constrained market.

New Fourth Strategy: Recruit Talent from Russia and Belarus

Another way to expand and attract very high-quality talent is to look at the talent from Russia and Belarus. There clearly are several hundred thousand highly qualified engineers and senior IT talent in these two countries, and many are interested in emigrating to other countries.

Many of these workers realize they may need to move quickly and leave their countries to continue a good lifestyle and have a productive job with a good income. Some are afraid they will be conscripted into the armed forces. All are aware that their livelihoods because of sanctions and poor economic conditions are likely to be much worse in the future than they have been in the past.

Recruiting skilled IT and engineering workers from Russia and Belarus carries the challenge that they need help in emigrating to another country. They lack jobs, and the money they may have in rubles may be constrained from being turned into Euros or dollars or Turkish lira. Many have good English skills or other language skills.

This is a large population of skilled talent that is potentially attractive, despite the issues. They are eager to find employment outside Russia and Belarus, but they need help.

If your company is interested in recruiting these workers, you need to establish a center in a destination that these workers can get to, such as Hungary, Turkey, or Dubai. Your company must actively recruit them through social media and advertising in Russian so that they know where they can interview and that they have a prospect of employment.

Think about at least having a staging ground where your company has offices and the capability for these workers to go for an interview. They also may need travel assistance (such as funding the airplane ticket). Or you can interview them through Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Your company may need to provide help in transportation to the job location and perhaps a place to live for at least the first month, and a program to help them settle into their new country.

Compared to the cost of recruiting in North America, the cost of an airplane ticket and some help with an apartment is a modest recruiting cost, considering that the talent in Russia and Belarus is high-quality.

What about recruiting workers from Ukraine? The men who are 18 or older are conscripted for the war, and many want to stay and fight. However, there are females with high-quality IT and engineering skills.

This is a different context than that of the workers in Russia and Belarus, who are basically economic refugees. The Ukrainian women are refugees of war, so recruiting them has a humanitarian aspect. Many of the women with these skills are eager to find good employment, but they also are financially responsible for their families.

Expanding your company’s labor pool by recruiting skilled talent from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine is a highly effective strategy to gain a superb and potentially quite loyal talent pool.

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