How an overseas workforce can reap benefits for Australian businesses

The global economy has become increasingly interconnected, and organizations today are more likely to have a workforce that includes employees from different parts of the globe. Having a high proportion of overseas workers can bring significant benefits to a company, including increased diversity, access to new markets, and a more flexible workforce.

What is the labour landscape in Australia?

In Australia, we are currently facing the second worst jobs shortage in the Western world – second only to Canada – and there’s no doubt that travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of overseas workers who were able to come to Australia.

This has created labour shortages in key industries, including hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing and healthcare. These shortages are leading to higher labour costs and reduced productivity, and they are making it more difficult for Australian businesses to compete on the global stage. To address this shortage, it’s important for the Australian government to take steps to make it easier for overseas workers to come to Australia.

Positive moves are already underway, like offering 35,000 extra places under the permanent migration program that could see thousands more overseas workers arriving in Australia throughout the year. By building on this progress, the government can help Australian businesses access and retain the talent they need to compete in the global economy.

Why is an overseas workforce crucial for businesses?

Expand into new markets

In Australia, however, there is currently a shortage of overseas workers, and this shortage is having a negative impact on businesses across the country. One of the most significant benefits of having a diverse workforce is the opportunity to access new markets.

When a company has employees from different parts of the world, they can tap into the knowledge and experience of those employees to expand into new markets. For example, a company that has employees from China, Japan, and South Korea might be better positioned to expand into those markets than a company that only has employees from Australia.

Navigate cultural differences

Additionally, having employees who are familiar with different cultures and languages can help a company navigate cultural differences and better understand the needs of customers in different parts of the world. Top Aussie pharmaceuticals and health supplement manufacturer, GMP Pharmaceuticals, proudly has an overseas workforce comprising around 78% of their total workforce, including employees from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Italy and more.

Many of these employees joined GMP as their first job when arriving in Australia, and have stayed on with the company ever since. The company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion to their significant overseas workforce is solely responsible for this outcome.

By hiring employees from different countries and cultural backgrounds, GMP Pharmaceuticals has been able to bring in new perspectives and ideas. This has enabled the company to develop innovative solutions and products that are more relevant and effective in meeting the needs of our customers. One significant aspect of GMP’s overseas workforce is that many of these employees joined the company as their first job when arriving in Australia.

This shows that GMP Pharmaceuticals has been able to provide opportunities for individuals who are new to the country and looking to start their careers, while also retaining quality talent. And by offering employment opportunities to these individuals, GMP Pharmaceuticals has largely contributed to the integration of these individuals into Australian society.

Increased innovation

Another benefit of having a diverse workforce is that it can lead to increased innovation. When people from different backgrounds and cultures come together, they bring with them different perspectives and ways of thinking which can prove advantageous. This can lead to new ideas and approaches that might not have been possible with a less diverse workforce.

Improved communication with customers

Additionally, having a workforce that includes people with different language skills can help a company better communicate with customers and partners in different parts of the world.

It can also help a firm be more flexible and responsive to changes in the global economy. If a company is heavily dependent on workers from one country or region, it can be vulnerable to changes in that region, such as economic downturns or political instability. By having a diverse workforce, a company can be better positioned to weather these kinds of challenges.

Jing Cong is the People and Culture Manager at GMP Pharmaceuticals.