Interview with Rick Hammell, CEO of Elements Global Services


Rick, thank you for joining us! Can you explain briefly what Elements Global Services does, and what your role entails?


Elements Global Services is an Employer of Record (EOR), which is an exciting type of company many of you may not have heard of yet. An Employer of Record simplifies the ability for businesses to expand, onboard, manage and pay employees in foreign markets, where the business does not have a legal entity to employ an employee. As the EOR, Elements has already completed all of the legal registrations in over 135 countries. This pre-registration process Elements completed allows company to onboard employees under our local legal entities.

The Employer of Record assumes all risk and ensures the employee in-country has the benefits package, on time and in compliance with all local and global HR and Tax laws. Because the company is using the Employer of Record’s entity, the cost and time taken to place an employee in-country compliantly is significantly reduced. Making global expansion, faster and more cost effective than ever before without compromising on global HR support for your employees. Elements can help businesses expand into a single country- or over 135 countries all at once- It’s revolutionary!

As the CEO, I am focused on our overall global strategy, ensuring continual advances and innovation – anticipating our clients’ needs, and bringing them the best solutions for their global expansion requirements. Yet, as part of a passionate global team, I collaborate with every department and get to witness our vision grow into the exciting industry disruptor you see now- and we are just getting started! 

Opportunities for global expansion appear to be on the rise for new and established businesses. Where geographically do you see the best opportunities in the next few years?

We live in an age where we want everything quick, efficient and cost effective. Look at companies like Uber or Linkedin. These companies didn’t change what basics of using a taxi service or recruiting/candidate applications process, they changed the experience of the user and simplified the process. Using that same thought process, companies are looking to expand globally without all the brick and mortar. 

With the world seeming smaller than ever before, global expansion is on 82% of companies’ future plans. So yes, we can definitely say that international expansion is on the rise, but this is only possible as business opportunities are becoming abundant in every region. With some of the emerging markets such as Africa really showing exponential growth- I’d advise to get in get in quick for the biggest impact! Also, in 2019 we’re seeing regional industries are being created all the time- like the Tech explosion in LATAM- so depending on your vertical and target audience, there are many regional options which could work.

What problems do companies often face when looking to establish a workforce in a new country?

 There are many potential issues you can come across, but it often depends on how you intend to employ your workforce. Are you thinking of opening an entity in country, or use an Employer of Record to pay your staff? Are you looking to employ from within the local talent pool, or to relocate some of your current staff from another country? These 2 questions alone bring with them a wealth of challenges. For instance, if you are creating an entity in order to pay your employees in country, you may need to jump many hurdles,  and depending on the country you may be required to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and even wait up to 18 months in order to complete entity registration.

Whereas, if you partnered with an Employer of Record both time and costs are reduced massively- limiting any hurdles between a company and their expansion goals. Of course, having global HR specialists at your disposal helps, as there are challenges sometimes where you least expect it. For example, in some countries how you advertise a new job role can have legal consequences and local HR law and cultures should be respected at all times. Of course, the no.1 issue is compliance, with both local tax and HR laws as a top priority. It is better to speak with an expert, such as an Employer of Record who can guide you through the local laws and ensure that you are compliant in-country. Ignorance is no defence!

Technology is having a big impact on the global recruitment and HR industries. What are some key developments business owners should be aware of in this regard?

Some of the platforms now are amazing. We currently use a market leading online platform to ensure our global employees are connected to our HR at all times. Benefits, vacation, sickness and personal data all held in secure online spaces allowing our employees to remain engaged with HR and in control of their information. We use the same HR platform in-house as we do with our clients. It is the route most companies should be looking to take now, as it allows for 360 HR views, from the beginning of recruitment to end of service- it’s the future.

Retention can be a challenge for any company anywhere. Aside from higher remuneration, how can companies be competitive in attracting top talent?

By offering them great benefits in line with your company culture. This could include the opportunity to work in new ways, remotely or with more flexibility. The work life balance is something which top talent often mention- and is something which many aspire to, so can be the ‘x’ factor when comparing companies. Companies also need to be thinking about their company culture and celebrating their achievements and diversity. Ultimately, a positive company culture encourages continual engagement from employees and is attractive to applicants of top roles.

With political tensions on the rise in every region around the world, are you seeing increased issues with immigration? How are companies to deal with lengthy and complex visa processes for their employees?

Yes, there are more challenges now- especially with some countries changing their visa options available for foreign workers, from the US Immigration changes with the current administration to the appointment of the new PM in the UK and UK’s Brexit challenges. The best way to approach visa applications, is to have all the information to hand before you start to apply. Understand what a country is looking for, what their restrictions are and what they favour. Expertise is your best chance at any visa, and there are never any guarantees. The country remains in full control. However, with some expertise you may get guidance for your most direct and successful application option. Knowledge can really be the difference between a yes, and a no.

What are some of the main ways that foreign businesses can speed up their expansion into new markets if they are not yet ready to establish new local legal entities?

Firstly, make sure you are working with a solid partner. Someone that understands the market you are looking to expand into and really understand what you are looking to do. Once you have a plan, look into companies that can meet your requirements. An EOR provider can speed up the process but the question you have to ask is how these fits into your overall global strategy. Elements can cut down timelines by 90%. Advising for experience, make sure you have a plan and understand the resources you have, for example an EOR partner, to execute this plan.  

Candidates are seeking ever creative ways to make themselves stand out to employers, and that can raise concerns for businesses. What are some red flags that executive teams need to look out for?

Obviously, the candidate should evaluate the job and the company and part of their own due diligence, and this should be reflected in what they send in the application as a representation of themselves. If they are applying for a creative job, then be more creative- but not to the detriment of understanding for the reader and interviewer, as that only sends a message that that they haven’t thought about how it will be received. However, having a complete lack of understanding of the type of company is really poor, and says that the applicant is only looking for a ‘job’ for now, rather than strategically thinking through their next career move. 

Which industries do you see as having the most growth potential in the next five to ten years?

Tech is evolving at an amazing rate, and definitely one to watch. Involving every aspect of business and our personal lives. In an industry that needs to have our finger on the pulse of the latest developments, we are already aware of many regions which are growing their own verticals, and this will only develop further in the next 5-10 years. 

In just a few words, can you describe the attitude that business owners and executives need to have to tackle the challenges presented by globalization?

Consult with professionals; Then be flexible, be strategic, be bold.

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As a specialist in the area of overseas business expansion, Alan covers global business topics with a focus on identifying emerging markets and helping companies expand globally.

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