CEO Nick Ganzha Shares His Take on the Future of Work for International Businesses and Acumen’s Role as the Best Global PEO
Nick Ganzha | CEO | Acumen International
How Acumen’s work in 2021 helped shape the future of international business operations, and the role Acumen will play as a Global Employment industry leader in 2022 and beyond.
An interview with Iryna Oprya, Acumen International’s Media Head
The global pandemic has posed new and unforeseen challenges to multinational companies, forcing them to quickly adapt. The complex restrictions imposed on business operations by governments have made matters even worse. As a result, many international companies and those in the early stages of global expansion are looking for innovative ways to hire global talent, with minimal red tape and low financial and compliance risks.
Global PEO/EOR providers offer creative ways for globally expanding companies to work around newly imposed restrictions, regardless of size or location.
Thanks to our agile and perceptive response to global upheavals, the Global Employment industry is experiencing unprecedented growth. Experts are projecting that the market for international PEO services is expected to reach around $800 million USD by 2025, up from $478 million in 2019.
To elaborate on the forecast and learn about how Acumen has stepped up to meet the latest industry developments, we conducted an interview with our CEO Nick Ganzha. We asked Nick to reflect on what the forecast means for our company, and on the challenges, transformations and aspirations he expects Acumen to encounter in the near future.
Iryna Oprya (IO), Media Head, Acumen International:
My guest today is Nick Ganzha – Nick, welcome!
Nick Ganzha (NG), Founder and CEO, Acumen International:
Thank you so much for having me.
IO: Nick, I hope this interview can give our readers an overview of the past pandemic years and their impact on your professional sphere.
Can you describe Acumen’s ideal client company? How has the client profile evolved in light of recent global changes, such as the pandemic and the shift to remote work?
NG: The ideal client for us is no longer just an international company, but any company, even local, that bases its global hiring strategy on the best international skills they can find to manage and expand their business.
Advances in technology have transformed the entire globe into a talent marketplace. Previously, companies were limited by geography, and the way they operated at home was basically how they operated worldwide. Now geographic boundaries are less consequential, and even employees living near the home office may not physically come to work for months on end.
In addition, it is crucial for any company that wants to sell their products and services in foreign markets to onboard local workers from the very first stages of product development, and not wait until a product is ready to be sold. An inclusion-based global hiring strategy can help companies to better meet the needs and expectations of foreign markets.
IO: Can you provide a glimpse of what’s ahead for Acumen International and for our clients?
NG: Analyzing the year 2021, I can say that the future of the global workforce will be some sort of hybrid. Research by Future Forum revealed that 72 percent of employees expressed that they have no desire to return to the traditional model of work, and they expect the future of work to be a hybrid workforce model.
Research by numerous global HR analysts have proven that when a workforce is well matched and well managed, hybrid working models can help companies to attract better global talent, build more efficient global remote teams, achieve greater innovation, and build a flexible, productive work model for the future.
IO: What are some of the major challenges you see on the front line of the pandemic that are impacting our clients? How have changes in labor laws and regulations in some countries altered the business landscape?
NG: Companies were previously able to prepare for international growth at a more leisurely pace, but things have become more urgent these days.
During volatile times like these, many businesses are facing new challenges that need quick solutions. Those challenges are not only financial; they also concern human resources. As the pandemic continues to spread around the world, it is essential for businesses to remain agile. This applies especially to multinational companies that work in multiple countries and are facing numerous new legal regulations they must comply with.
One ongoing trend is radical changes to employment, tax, and payroll laws in various countries in response to COVID-19. With local laws continually changing, global companies are faced with the challenge of engaging their global workforce in low-risk and cost-effective ways.
On our end, the biggest challenge for global employers and the staffing and recruiting agencies we work with is to rapidly adapt to changes while staying compliant with evolving labor laws. Companies have had to quickly adapt to remain compliant, adjusting their global employment and payroll processes and immigration policies along the way. The three major challenges faced by global companies right now are compliance issues, protection of intellectual property, and data privacy.
From a tax compliance point of view, permanent establishment risks pose some of the greatest hurdles.
Permanent establishment risks occur when local tax authorities in a foreign country determine that your business is continuously operating in that country, rather than just sporadically. The business can then be declared a permanent establishment, liable for all corporate taxes. A company deemed a permanent establishment becomes subject to all taxes imposed for profits generated within the country, according to the local tax rates. In addition, the company can be levied charges for interest on the taxes, depending on the country and the period of time during which the company’s activities took place.
In addition, many anti-discrimination laws are being adopted in numerous countries, and in-country regulations are becoming ever stricter. Governments are prohibiting employment discrimination based on ethnicity, race, religious beliefs, sex or gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, and a host of other potential scenarios.
The same applies to terminating or laying off global employees. Outside of the United States, employee termination can be difficult, even in “normal” times. Many countries strictly regulate the terms under which an employee can be dismissed. Other than in cases of serious misconduct, workers cannot be arbitrarily dismissed on short notice.
If anything, the pandemic has amplified the issue, causing disruptions in multiple facets of business that demand the downsizing of staff, at least on a temporary basis. A January 2021 report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported massive disruptions in global labor markets throughout 2020 after the pandemic break-out, resulting in an 8.8 percent loss of working hours, which translates to the loss of 255 million full-time jobs worldwide. As recently as late October 2021, the ILO warned that recovery of the global market had stalled, with significant disparities between advanced and developing economies.
To circumvent compliance requirements for job termination, some companies are putting employees on furlough, meaning they remain technically employed, but with reduced hours, or placed on leave without pay. Other companies have been forced to temporarily lay off their employees while they scale down or close their operations, with the intent of rehiring them once business returns to normal.
In either case, global businesses run the risk of violating labor laws and facing fines and penalties, making a bad situation even worse.
In the United States, the pandemic has forced millions of Americans to suspend their normal daily activities and stay at home. The US government has issued business loans to small businesses, to help them retain their workforce under conditions of slowed or disrupted business operations.
Measures taken in response to COVID mark significant changes in termination policies, unpaid leave, salary support, reduced work hours and extended unemployment. For global businesses, the expenses imposed by COVID both at home and abroad can be crippling, especially if local labor laws in overseas countries prohibit them from laying off or furloughing employees.
IO: On that note, how has the pandemic impacted the benefits strategies of international companies for their global teams?
NG: Globally distributed teams that operate remotely are facing a number of challenges. Countries worldwide are adopting new rules and laws that impact business operations, including global employee payments and benefits. Imagine dealing with legislative changes in multiple countries at once to handle international pay and employee benefits for your global workforce!
Beyond the minimum required by in-country laws, providing additional benefits can be key to employee retention for international companies, and an attractive draw for top global talent. Acumen’s one-stop shop global employment solutions help businesses to deftly adjust to rapidly changing regulations that impact employee compensation in 190 countries where Acumen provides core global employment services. We help our clients provide the best-matched benefits according to each country’s requirements and their individual business needs.
IO: What about immigration? How has the pandemic impacted the ability of global businesses to relocate personnel from one country to another?
NG: A pause in most types of immigration worldwide has imposed lengthy visa application processes and rigid rules for international travel. This has especially impacted companies in the USA that rely on foreign workers to fill certain job vacancies. It has also affected companies who need to relocate employees overseas to run their business operations.
In many cases, countries have imposed quotas for the number of expat workers who are able to legally enter and remain in the country, severely impacting global business operations when qualified local talent cannot be found.
In addition, we cannot ignore the global political climate. For example, Brexit has upended many businesses in both the UK and the EU. And Britain’s IR 35 legislation is disincentivizing many global businesses to hire contractors. In the US, California’s bill AB5 has reclassified numerous independent contractors as employees, costing businesses billions of dollars.
Today, international companies are faced with questions of whether to reclassify their contractors as employees, what pitfalls they can avoid by doing so, and how to go about it.
Fortunately for them, Acumen is one step ahead, ready to save our global clients from costly decisions and help them answer questions such as:
- Why should we convert existing contractors/freelancers into employees?
- What are the incentives for offering employee status to selected global prospects, and what risks are involved?
- How can we meet key legal and taxation requirements and not be overwhelmed by multiple in-country tax and labor regulations when engaging independents?
In our free ‘Employee vs. Independent Contractor’ Checklist, Acumen explains how to streamline decision-making on worker employment status, and outlines optimal global hiring methods for our clients’ employees.
* Please download our checklist to learn how Acumen’s solutions can benefit your business.
Something for international companies to consider today is building teams that blend full-time employees with commission-based professionals. Combining the forces of a direct team and independent contractors allows you to benefit from the specific expertise of some independent contractors, while enjoying the reliability and work ethic of a full-time team.
Companies looking to gain a presence in multiple markets can leverage the capacities of an international PEO service provider that offers expansive coverage. As a global PEO company covering 190 countries, Acumen can help you engage a hybrid workforce that devotes 100% of their time to your business. As the legal Employer of Record (EOR), Acumen can onboard and payroll your global workforce on your company’s behalf in multiple countries.
* Learn more details by downloading our ‘Global Expansion Guide’.
Simply put, the world of global employment has never been more volatile, and businesses are looking for innovative HR solutions that simplify and secure international HR processes.
IO: Is Acumen’s Express Global Employment solution the one? Let’s take a minute to talk about it. Nick, why and how is Acumen International currently evolving to respond to the changing needs of our global clients?
NG: Sure. As an industry leader in global PEO, Acumen keeps its finger on the pulse of global business trends, and we respond quickly to changes on the international business landscape. Our solution was initially developed in response to global business demands. We’ve branded our service as Express Global Employment, a turnkey solution designed to help our international clients make a footprint in 190 countries worldwide, in as few as three business days (72 hours).
Business demands are rapidly changing, and more companies than ever are looking for ways to innovate and venture into new markets, or to augment their existing teams with international talent.
Our Express Global Employment solution helps businesses of all sizes to confidently employ a global workforce quickly and risk-free, in 100% compliance with local laws and regulations.
Acumen’s Express Global Employment service provides a one-stop-shop solution to meet all our clients’ needs. Whether you’re an enterprise looking to employ your selected global talent or an agency hiring a global workforce for your clients, Acumen’s Express solution can help you achieve your goals in a matter of days.
* Please explore our updated website to learn more about the many benefits of our solution, and how we can assist with your company’s urgent global hiring needs.
IO: Apart from developing innovative solutions, what else is in the works for Acumen in the upcoming year and beyond? And what other challenges are we facing in our efforts to meet clients’ needs in the present global climate?
NG: Our main challenge is finding ways to help our client companies restructure their operations and recover from the impact of COVID. By that I mean the many significant hurdles that global businesses are struggling to adapt to, including new ways of working, in a relatively short period of time.
The recent shift to remote work and e-commerce has caused a surge in work-from-home arrangements and a new marketplace for remote workers. The pandemic aside, advances in digitalization are making remote work a permanent institution, and Acumen is tracking this trend and discovering ways to optimize it for our clients.
As far as our work moving forward, Acumen will continue to be a global employment industry leader, staying a beat ahead of further disruptions and leveraging innovations in technology to meet the needs of our clients.
IO: Nick, what are your thoughts on technology’s impact on global HR? What trends and developments in tech have come about in response to the pandemic, and how will they affect the global employment industry long-term?
NG: Global HR operations need to be further digitalized and platformized. We urgently need to develop new tools in response to COVID and, most importantly, to work towards global payroll automatization, transformation and unification.
IO: What proactive steps is Acumen International taking to incorporate technology into its business practices, to meet the needs of our global clients?
NG: The events of the past years have challenged us to respond to the many disruptions and innovations that have upended the global HR industry. Acumen strives to keep a finger on the pulse of global business trends, and to quickly respond to changes on the international business landscape.
To meet our global clients’ demands and stay ahead of our competition, this year we released our innovative Global Payroll Calculator (GPC) – a unique online SaaS tool. The GPC was designed to help international employers and expanding companies estimate the cost of hiring global talent around the globe in minutes, without having to wait for weeks for service provider quotes.
Our GPC transforms the process of calculating the cost of hiring global talent across the globe. The tool helps multinational businesses and global business service providers to quickly calculate payroll costs for both local and expatriate talent in 190 countries where we serve our international clients. With Acumen, you can now make faster and better-informed business decisions, streamline budgeting for your global hiring needs, and make business operations more cost-efficient.
This year, the Acumen team also had the opportunity to share our accomplishments as a one-stop-shop global employment solutions provider with our industry peers, first at Staffing Industry Analysts’ conference on Collaboration in the Gig Economy (SIA GigE 2021) in Phoenix, Arizona, and again at the SIA Executive Forum Europe in London. And we were especially pleased to be nominated for a GPA 2021 Award, and to attend the Award ceremony in London in November.
Our participation in these international events gave us insights into the latest challenges faced by the international HR, staffing and global payroll community, and we had an opportunity to build strategic partnerships with our industry peers.
As the year 2021 draws to a close, we look forward to expanding the offerings and capabilities of our Global Employer of Record (EoR) services, and to incorporating our Global Payroll Calculator product offering.
Our core solutions enable international firms to expand globally and engage global talent in 190 countries. Our new tools add value for our clients in their global expansion endeavors, helping them to make informed decisions about talent acquisition, and providing them with customized client support.
Another feather in our cap is being recognized by NelsonHall (a leading US analyst firm) as the best Global PEO. After pioneering our Express Global Employment turnkey solution, we are making strides to develop a suite of self-service tools to support our clients in global expansion, talent acquisition, retention cost modeling, and compliance.
We look forward to presenting our latest innovations to NelsonHall for their upcoming Global PEO Market Analysis in February, 2022.
We here at Acumen are also planning to roll out another innovative SaaS product in the near future, the Global HR Assistant (GHRA). This is our global knowledge base to continually update the in-country information of 190 countries. It’s being elaborated to provide our client companies with valuable information, to help them make informed decisions about global employment and in-country HR compliance.
IO: How will the new challenges mentioned above influence your efforts to build a strong company culture in the coming years, Nick? What role will company culture play in the future of work in the coming decade?
NG: Culture is foundational to any business. Even companies that don’t focus on their culture still have a culture, and sometimes that’s not the one the founder or leader initially wanted to create. Leaders need to pay close attention on a daily basis to the kind of culture they create by hiring people who share company values, and by setting a good example themselves.
When remote work became the norm, it became harder for some individuals to hide behind their teams. Working remotely does not mean that no one sees what you are doing. In fact, the value and results you bring to the company become even more visible. In the remote landscape, companies need to develop clear KPIs and performance-based remuneration, to attract high performers who excel at remote work and do not try to hide behind it.
IO: Thank you, Nick, for this informative and inspiring interview. We began with the International PEO service market forecast. One last question – What is your own forecast for 2022 and beyond, Nick? How do you see our industry developing in the coming years?
NG: The industry has changed tremendously in the last couple of years, and the driving force is technology. There are now many platforms designed to ease human work, and to enhance communication and the flow of documents across departments.
At the same time we recognize that nothing can replace human interaction. Technology must not be used as a substitute for humans, but rather support them and add value to their work. Companies that combine technology with a human touch will succeed in attracting and retaining clients.
Acumen is a human-first company that uses technology to eliminate time previously spent on paperwork, and to expand the time our managers are able to spend with clients and their remote workforce. What can be more important to a client than to know that their voice is being heard by a human and not a robot (platform) ? ))