The global workforce: one in four UK workers now employed in a global role

The globalised workforce: one in four UK workers now employed in a global role

·         Employees with global career skills – skills developed through working with overseas markets and in international locations - increasingly in demand among UK employers

·         Nine in ten employers believe employees with an international outlook and experience improve their bottom-line

·         Global experience adds 15%, or £2,700 a year, to the average UK salary, and employees stay with an organisation four years longer on average

·         Productivity increase associated with a more global career is estimated to contribute £9.4 billion (0.6%) to the UK GVA

·         Greater demand for global career opportunities predicted in 2016 - with young female employees most likely to lead demand

New research by Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and L’Oréal UK and Ireland, has found that the increasingly open global economy is having a radical impact on UK workplaces, with one in four (28%) UK employees, or six million individuals, now working in an internationally-focussed role and gaining additional skills.

The study found employers are increasingly demanding that employees understand local market operations and business cultures to help drive business growth – with nine in 10 employers seeing employees’ international-outlook, skills and experiences key to improving their bottom line. Over half  (55%) believe that, as a result of taking up international career opportunities employees become more engaged in their role, and are more successful in bringing in new business opportunities.

Employers estimate that international experience increases an individual’s average gross earnings by 15% within one-three years. While employees at organisations which offer international career opportunities are, on average, likely to stay for almost four years longer than they would have otherwise.

The positive effect of a workforce with an international outlook is also felt by the UK economy, with the productivity increase associated with taking up a more international career estimated to contribute £9.4 billion (0.6%) in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA).

The international fast track to career progression

Overall the majority of employees (61%) who have international experience believe they are able to progress more quickly within their organisation, relative to those colleagues who have not had any international experience. This increases to 74% of employers who perceive that exposure to global markets enable their employees to progress more quickly in their career.

The skills gained by employees with global experiences include:

·         New foreign language (46%)

·         Greater awareness of global economic and political issues (43%)

·         Increased awareness, tolerance and cultural sensitivity (64%)

·         Ability to be more flexible and adaptable to diverse problems and situations (64%)

Demand for international careers driven by women

Young women (aged between 25-34 years old) are driving the greatest demand for international career opportunities – with over half (57%) currently considering taking up a more international role (compared to just 29% of men). However, this figure drops as women hit 35-44, to just 16%. Overall nearly two thirds (65%) of employers expect demand for international career opportunities to increase over the next year.

Glaring disconnect between employers and employees

While the research reveals that the benefits of international careers and subsequent skills are clear, there is a glaring disconnect between employee and employer perceptions on the international opportunities presented within their companies. For example, whilst over half (51%) of employers say that the opportunity to achieve an international career is encouraged and incentives to do so are offered to employees, by contract only 22% of employees agree.  In addition, while 62% of employees say they speak to their employees about international opportunities, only a fraction (13%) of employees say this actually happens.  

Commenting on the research, Isabelle Minneci, HR Director at L’Oréal UK and Ireland, said:

“In an increasingly borderless market, smart companies are recognising the benefit of using their global presence to facilitate talent and skills.  As the UK becomes more culturally diverse, having a ‘globally engaged’ workforce means our employees understand the diverse beauty needs of this market, and develop the most relevant offerings, which strengthens our business. Investing in talent to go abroad enables future leaders to develop even stronger international vision and experience, both of which are fundamental in leading teams to win over new consumers, and for sharing our culture and values. Offering international opportunities to our employees has impacted on retention rates, a critical issue for all UK businesses today.”

Shruti Uppala, Economist from the CEBR, said:

 “The diversity of the UK’s labour market brings a broad range of benefits to the UK economy. Businesses benefit from a forward thinking and diverse workforce equipped international languages and cultural knowledge, enhancing the firm’s ability to conduct business in international markets which is critical for business growth. With a clear consensus among business decision makers that demand for international career opportunities will continue to rise, it’s vital that organisations resolve this communications gap or risk missing out on attracting the next generation of top talent.”

A full copy of the report can be viewed here