Benefits vs drawbacks of hiring internationals in Danish SMEsOct 31, 2023 Insights and tips from Tina Høst Jørgensen, General Manager and Co-owner of ProMeasure Consulting.
Tina Høst Jørgensen, co-owner of ProMeasure, remembers when an international employee could not accept that she - a woman - was his “boss” and told Tina that “she should know her place.” It was at that moment she wondered: “Is it worth it?” Her doubts didn’t last long, though, as the daily benefits for her business outweighed a few employee mismatches.
Denmark is a country known for its high quality of life, innovative spirit, and progressive work culture. With the first quarter of 2023 showing a record-breaking number of people moving here*, one would expect that Denmark and its businesses have figured out how to solve the pressing challenge of attracting and retaining foreign talent. But that’s far from the truth. Denmark still can’t meet the demand for highly skilled professionals nationally, and more and more companies are looking to hire from abroad. Some abandon the effort very soon because of a lack of time and knowledge in the subject, but those curious and determined enough to explore this route rip the fruits of their efforts.
Copenhagen Capacity has supported ProMeasure with its talent attraction efforts over the years. We were eager to listen to the company’s experiences with hiring internationals and invited Tina for a casual interview. She shared her angle on the benefits, the obstacles, and the potential that awaits those who are willing to make the effort.
ProMeasure is a small privately-owned business that supports Pharma & Life Science Industry clients and end-users with end-to-end CRM Omnichannel solutions in commercial and medical operations. Tina’s husband René Jørgensen started the boutique consultancy in 2014 and in recent years it has grown from 2 to 17 people, 70 % of whom has been internationals from Italy, Hungary, Argentina, Syria, and Sweden, to name a few. Hiring them and ensuring a successful integration has not always been easy. There have been occasions when she questioned the return on her investment in time and effort, but the benefits always outweigh the drawbacks. Ambitious companies like ProMeasure have clientele across Europe, so having a multilingual and multicultural workforce can be a secret superpower.
“Clients love it when the account managers speak in their language,” says Tina
Additionally, by embracing diversity in all its forms, including gender, ethnicity, and nationality, companies can tap into a rich pool of perspectives, experiences, and skills. Tina emphasises that creating an inclusive work environment is not only enriching but also essential for driving innovation and sustainable growth.
“They challenge the way we see things, so we don’t get set in our ways for too long!” says Tina. “It might take a bit more effort, but it’s definitely worth it!”
Although many factors may play a role in the successful integration of an international employee, having gone through the experience of hiring several international employees, Tina identifies communication and cultural understanding as the most important elements in making an international hire work. Since the beginning, Tina and René have been loyal to their belief that a positive working environment, open communication, and cultural understanding are crucial for the success of their people and their clients.
“We strive to create a great place to work by encouraging open communication and transparency,” said Tina.
Asking questions and engaging in dialogue beyond just the weather is where meaningful communication happens, and only then could she understand her employees’ behaviours and mindsets. It has been an eye-opening experience. Some have kids, and others are single. Some have been exposed to racism, discrimination, and bias. Understanding the experiences and environment that have formed their personality is key to a successful integration of the employee.
Seeking help from experts in the field can save a lot of time trying to figure out everything on your own from scratch and guide you through the process.
“Copenhagen Capacity has inspired and helped us a lot throughout the years with their various talent attraction initiatives, from matchmaking events to their career portal.”
However, there are certain bureaucratic hurdles associated with visas and work permits that can’t be solved by business owners or cultural integration. Such obstacles need to be prioritised by Denmark’s policymakers.
Tina highlighted, “There is a need to streamline the visa and work permit processes, making them more efficient and less time-consuming. My family member who moved to Denmark had to wait 6-7 months to get a visa despite having a job contract. Simplifying the administrative procedures would send a positive message to international professionals, signalling that Denmark welcomes and values their contributions.”
Despite the challenges faced, Denmark and its SMEs have a wealth of potential to be a global talent magnet. By embracing cultural diversity, streamlining work permit processes, and collaborating with experts in the field, we can enhance our talent attraction efforts and create an environment where professionals from around the world are eager to contribute to our sustainable growth.
Photos: Kasper Friis Jørgensen