As an industry that used to be a tightly controlled relationship between corporate entities and travel bookers, the Internet has blown open the world of business travel unlike most other industries one can think of. With all of the world’s best accommodation deals available at the average workers’ fingertips, the job of finding and booking business travel is increasingly falling to the employee themselves, and the major beneficiaries of this change in the business model are online travel agents (OTAs) like Airbnb and Trivago who are supplying the platforms that make booking so easy. It seems like a win-win scenario: businesses are freed from the administrative burdens of securing bookings themselves, they’re free to find cheaper rates away from locked-in relationships with hotels, and workers are free to choose the accommodation that most suits their wants and needs. But could all this choice be a false friend to business?
Pushing up cost
One of the major benefits of the OTA booking model for business is that, theoretically, it helps reduce cost. The administrative burden of making bookings is lifted from the company themselves, so they can end up spending much less time and cash on business travel, while there is also the potential to find great deals that hotel companies simply can’t match. However, the increasing popularity of this model of business travel has created a supply problem, particularly in the world’s major cities like New York and London, which is pushing up the cost of accommodation on social booking platforms as a new glut of business travellers compete for beds with tourists.
As well as the supply issue, a more surprising problem is that there’s actually too much money pouring into the sector – something for which the business model wasn’t designed. Instead of ad-hoc visits by travellers and tourists, some of the best run and most attractive properties on OTAs are gaining a steady stream of revenue from business travellers that is pushing the rules surrounding letting and tax requirements to the limit in many countries. By turning empty rooms from an occasional revenue earner into a successful business, many Airbnb properties are attracting the attention of the authorities and finding themselves pushed into tighter regulation and higher tax bands – both of which add further to their cost.
The compliance factor
A second problem that has arisen thanks to this new booking model is one of compliance. One of the major advantages of a relationship with a corporate hotel or serviced apartment chain is the knowledge that each unit will be exactly the same wherever in the world it is booked, guaranteeing global mobility and making relocation smooth for the business. However, by outsourcing corporate housing to the OTA and the employee, the business gets much less visibility over exactly what is being booked and how it is being used. From a purely practical perspective, this means that the employer can’t always be sure what facilities are available or how good they are.
Elements of the accommodation such as the technology available can make a big difference – and issues such as unreliable or slow internet connections can have a major impact on the employee’s ability to work remotely. Other compliance issues can be more serious, and can even impact the worker’s safety. Corporate housing in hotels presents a uniform standard, but the sheer variety of accommodation offered through an OTA means there is a patchwork of standards which may or may not meet company policies. Everything from fire regulations to issues around safety in shared accommodation, as well as how check-in and check-out are managed, is different for each property – generating a totally new and burdensome bureaucratic jungle for corporate travel bookers to navigate that almost dwarfs the task of booking that OTAs were supposed to eliminate.
Despite these cost and compliance issues, the sector shows no signs of slowing down: Airbnb boasts a three-fold increase in corporate bookings year on year, which will surely only increase as more companies adopt the social travel model. Rather than pulling back, the sector appears to be changing to accommodate this phenomenon – setting up divisions or whole companies dedicated to servicing the corporate market in parallel to the domestic one. Airbnb Work was set up in 2014 specifically to serve multinational organisations, while other organisations have also sprung up with a model that addresses the concerns that businesses may have – such as those around technology and compliance with corporate rules. A secondary benefit of this change is likely to be an easing of the pressure on supply, as leisure and business travellers once again court different markets.
As we progress into a new decade, it’s becoming clear that businesses are increasingly striving towards increasing their international markets. Indeed, global mobility looks likely to become one of the key HR trends of 2020, with an ever-intensifying focus on transforming ordinary enterprises into worldwide institutions.
No longer are companies content to limit themselves to a single pool of consumers nor a single nationality of worker. Instead, they’re turning their gazes outward and allowing themselves to dip into an international labour pool while also growing their audience.
While global mobility is a trend in itself, we’re also seeing certain patterns emerging within this area specifically, from international commuting to AI and increased inclusivity, and because of this, it’s important for businesses who want to benefit from global mobility to have an understanding of these.
Driving change in 2020, it’s a good idea for businesses and business owners to familiarise themselves with these concepts and how they could advantage their companies as the world of commerce becomes ever more international.
While global mobility is a notion that all employers should be embracing and that many employees view in a favourable light, it’s important to understand the toll it can take on those it affects. Indeed, while many professionals appreciate the opportunity to travel around the world with work, priorities are shifting, and there is an increasing focus on the importance of family relationships and self-care too.
As a result, many employees are demonstrating a preference for shorter assignments – ones that allow them to safeguard their mental health, recharge their batteries, and spend more time with their loved ones.
This trend is particularly prevalent among younger millennials, who are now beginning to step into more senior corporate positions. Often children of divorce themselves, many have a more family-focused view than their predecessors, with a 2016 study indicating that millennial mothers spend almost an hour more a day with their children than the previous generation. Millennial fathers, too, are more family-oriented, spending roughly an hour a day with their children compared to only 16 minutes for baby boomer dads.
This means that not only will there be a trend for shorter assignments moving forward, but that those who commute internationally are likely to expect greater flexibility with regards to their working hours e.g. that they’ll show a preference toward a shorter working week that gives them more free time to spend with their loved ones.
Big data analytics and AI will enter the mainstream
Another big trend that’s likely to emerge is the increasing use of disruptive technologies such as AI and big data analytics. While these have made headlines for the last few years now, it’s almost inevitable that they’ll soon become the norm in the global mobility sector.
Experts suggest that global mobility professionals will begin using them as a way of streamlining management processes and communicating with a workforce that will be scattered across the globe, in order to minimise the number of hours expended on admin tasks, compliance issues, and so on.
An increased emphasis on diversity and inclusivity
In keeping with the theme of making their businesses more internationally minded, it’s also assumed that a greater emphasis will be placed on inclusivity and diversity – a seemingly natural but nonetheless positive consequence of dipping into a global talent pool.
While there has been a move toward this for many years, it’s argued that the concept is currently celebrated more in theory than in practice – something that’s likely to change as we move forward into 2020 and beyond.
Interestingly, studies have indicated that not only do increased inclusivity and diversity reap social benefits, but that they’re a business-savvy decision too. Indeed, research conducted in 2018 by Boston Consulting Group indicated that companies with a diverse leadership team not only recorded better business innovation results, but roughly 20 per cent more revenue than their more conservative counterparts.
With global mobility offering an opportunity to dip into a much-more diverse talent pool, this is a perfect time for employers to embrace this concept and marry increased global mobility with a more representative and – according to research – successful workforce.
Isn’t it time you considered how to implement these trends in your business? With a new decade on the horizon and everything to strive toward, there has never been a better time to embrace such changes.
Among today’s young professionals, it seems that job-hopping has become the norm. Used as a means of securing upwards mobility, it’s understandable on the part of rising stars, who don’t want to find themselves at a career impasse as they wait around for a promotion to be offered or a better-earning position to become available.
This can, however, be bad news for businesses, who often find themselves losing the very people who might represent a bigger and brighter future for their organisation, but many experts suggest there’s a simple solution: talent mobility.
According to the statistics (taken from a report by Deloitte) around three-quarters of C-suites cite internal talent mobility as ‘important’, while a further 20 per cent believe it’s among the top three most urgent issues for organisations to tackle.
Interestingly, many suggest that it’s not only about giving rising stars the ability to move upward but also about recognising potential and identifying when individuals might suit a different but sideways advancing role.
The key to getting it right is this: whatever direction your employees are progressing in, you should be using your people and the potential they have to make yourself stronger and more suited to moving forward into an increasingly successful future.
Is your organisation successfully enabling talent mobility?
Given the importance of talent mobility in the eyes of the experts, it’s surprising how many businesses and business leaders fall short in this area. According to the Deloitte study we cited earlier, more than half of respondents claimed it was easier for employees to secure a role outside of their organisation rather than within it. In addition, only four in 10 felt their organisations were ‘excellent’ in this area, with a shocking 16 per cent claiming their efforts were ‘inadequate’.
When asked what factors were preventing better talent mobility, common responses included the following:
• A lack of processes in place to identify and move employees
• Too few internal employees to fill roles
• Manager resistance to internal moves
• A lack of employee awareness with regards to available roles
The study further suggested that prevailing hierarchical structures often proved problematic, explaining: “While organisations have spent decades building career and promotions models to help people move up the pyramid, that’s not the same thing as having a vibrant, easy-to-navigate internal mobility market and culture across the entire organisation.”
How talent mobility can contribute to a successful business
While it’s widely recognised that talent mobility can contribute to a stronger business, it’s important to understand the reasons why in order to appreciate the impact it can have on your organisation.
The reality is that talent mobility can be beneficial for both employees and employers. Enabling the former to feel challenged, stimulated, and engaged, it allows them to acquire new and useful skills and make progress toward the attainment of their long-term career goals. For the latter, too, it should be encouraged, as it’s a wonderful tool for filling organisational skill gaps and shaping future leaders while also cutting down on staff turnover and recruitment costs.
The statistics certainly support this claim that talent mobility can be of benefit, with the fastest-growing organisations (those growing 10 per cent or more per annum) being twice as likely to have high-quality talent mobility programmes than those that there are not growing, and three times more likely than businesses whose profits are falling.
This means that while talent mobility undoubtedly improves the employee experience, nurturing it within your business should not be seen as a purely altruistic exercise.
How you can create a successful talent management strategy
While many organisations have development programmes in place, the reality is that these are often subpar and focus on paving the way to an upward promotion at some distant point in the far-off future.
What’s needed instead is a strategy where employees are viewed as individuals, and where a concerted effort is made to recognise their strengths and cater to these, while also ensuring that they’re continually stimulated and challenged within their role.
HR personnel can have an important part to play in this, with the experts suggesting that many businesses need to evolve the way they interact with their team members, with a focus on building a strong rapport with staff that fosters an environment in which they can share their aspirations and be supported in these.
As HR professional Lara Hernandez explains: “Career conversations and feedback loops are so important – and that’s at every level of the organisation… You have to be open to receiving and giving feedback.”
As well as talent mobility, global mobility has a part to play in the bigger picture, with another key driver of job-hopping being an appetite for pastures new. This is something employees should feel able to discuss freely with their employer, feeding into the idea of opening up a forum for more open and less hierarchical discussions between businesses and their staff.
Isn’t it time you looked at ways to improve talent mobility within your organisation?
As an inclusive country, the UK is a low-risk country for the majority of its workforce, a similar experience echoed in other LGBT-friendly locations such as America, Brazil and South Africa. But for employees in different areas around the globe, or those on international assignments to countries overseas, the welcome may not be quite as warm as it would be in these lower-risk destinations. When it comes to supporting LGBT employees’ global mobility, there’s a lot to consider – and it’s vital to be in the know to ensure the ultimate safety of your staff wherever they are in the world.
Global mobility for LGBT individuals
For global organisations, the majority of placements and international assignments are created based on the merit of the individual employee; whether they’re a rockstar in their field or hold a particularly vital skillset, this is the first consideration of most worldwide firms. But when it comes to LGBT staff members, there’s a little more to consider. In fact, according to statistics provided by Stonewall, more than half of the total countries worldwide don’t offer any form of protection against discrimination for LGBT individuals, and in some of these countries, sexual acts with those of the same gender may even be illegal under the law.
As such, there is more to consider than simply the individual’s skill set when considering their placement in a country abroad. International human resources are a must to ensure global diversity can remain as effective as possible within businesses. This means providing the support and tools for LGBT staff members to take the same opportunities as all other team members, leading to:
- The development and retaining of effective and talented LGBT staff members
- The improvement of the organsiation’s global reputation in regard to LGBT rights
- Compliance with LGBT discrimination laws across all countries, from the UK and beyond
Issues facing LGBT global mobility
For LGBT individuals, the act of working abroad can be a difficult one, especially when it comes to the various barriers they can face in the workplace as a result of the location in which they have been posted. These barriers can include anything from a lack of rights and protection, all the way through to the restriction of rights or even criminalisation in the most extreme cases. It’s vital that businesses are educated on the LGBT laws and barriers of a country before deciding upon sending an individual to a country that may be unsafe for them.
In countries such as Hong Kong, Russia and Middle Eastern locations, the challenges faced by LGBT employees may be far more significant. In contrast to more LGBT-friendly destinations, the majority of companies within the countries stated do not recognise the rights of individuals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual. However, these concepts may apply to locally-run businesses, but that does not necessarily mean that global companies should carry those same discriminatory policies or laws.
Using global diversity to your business’ advantage
With many multinational companies openly leading the way when it goes to changing the laws and behaviours surrounding LGBT culture in anti-LGBT locations, the ability for LGBT employees to reach their full potential is easier than ever, promoting global diversity as a positive element of your business practices. Ensuring you allow your LGBT employees to reach their full potential is a must to ensure your business can reach its full potential too.
Technology is unquestionably changing the modern marketplace for corporations and businesses when it comes to moving their employees or teams to branches in different countries. With many trends maximising the efficiency of mobility professionals, 2020 is rapidly shaping up to be a landmark year for managers looking to optimise their workforce and put their effort and energy where it truly matters.
So, what elements maximise the global mobility of the modern workforce and why are they so effective?
Talent sourcing platforms allow businesses to deploy analytics that can help earmark and identify the best candidate for any job. This can be as simple as finding employees that speak multiple languages, possess key performance criteria, or have worked on similar projects and can add value to work in a different region. If employees aren’t quite hitting the mark, these programs can help break down the skillset for the role into concrete keywords; letting you review your internal staff database or recruitment pool for potential quality hires or transfers when it comes to managing your international human resources.
Blockchain’s ability to store employee and team data can empower you to review that information more holistically and effectively. Transferring data between departments or countries can result in a segmented view of information and an inability to ‘see the big picture’. Choosing to securely store key data through global blockchain technologies means that businesses are provided with a concrete history of all transactions and interactions and allows the data to be updated from a single point of contact. This cuts down the fuss that comes from teams accessing data and the disruption that can stem from international relocation.
AI programs can take up some of the slack when it comes to handling employees looking for references from different international departments. Mobility managers can deploy chatbots to field questions from teams across the globe in many time zones and choose to personally respond if the assistant is unable to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Many artificial intelligence programs can help employees by providing answers to common problems, links to relevant knowledgebase information, or storing targeted queries and delivering them to their handlers. As the AI encounters more questions, it learns and improves; taking some of the strain off your mobility manager and providing 24/7 support to even the most over-stretched of teams. This way the system and its processes become more refined and more suitable to your unique business needs.
With VR and augmented reality programs on the rise, it has never been easier for individuals working in different geographic locations or time zones to be present for important meetings or data sharing. This can be as simple as holding a group conference call using a range of smart devices such as everyday laptops, phones, or tablets. Alternatively, using augmented reality elements on virtual platforms can allow your attendees to interact as if all your staff were in the same room together. They can also use virtual diagrams or pointers to visualise key projects, build decisions, or add value to the meeting in a way that would be impossible even if people were present in a shared physical space.
Current research into the reasons why assignments fail conclude that they often do due to family issues, and/or because of difficulties trying to integrate into the host society. When it comes to conducting research, organisations often focus on the effect the international move has on the assignee or their accompanying partner and often lacks the perspective of the child.
As someone who spent the majority of my early life and schooling years living in Spain, I wanted to cover a few points from my perspective as to what it was like growing up as an expat kid.
Where do you come from? Not an unusual question to ask someone the first time you meet them but, for global children, answering that question can be rather tricky. For me, it’s also not an easy one.
I would answer London if I chose the short answer, the longer version is that my parents moved between multiple areas in Spain and the UK over a period of 12 years, however I have lived most of my adult life in London and the Home Counties. The other common question I faced was, where do I consider my home to be – this was also a tricky question to answer. “Wherever I lay my hat” was my go to.
The unique life experience of having to move and regularly adapt to new environments has given me a strong sense of ambivalence as to where home was, where I belonged and a strong feeling of being different. Personally, I often feel closer to someone who has the same experiences as I do, regardless of nationality or cultural background, than I might do with someone from the same country as me.
A new understanding of the term “Home”
The concept of having a home is important to many people. There is a wide perception that if you don’t feel at home anywhere, then you must be rootless. For me, I don’t believe this necessarily applies. Instead, from my experience I see the home as something mobile, not a caravan or RV, but a something that is not linked to a specific geographical location. I find a home is a feeling more than a place and this feeling is mobile and recognisable. Home is where I feel at home and therefore, home can be in multiple locations.
The important role of an international school
Most of us probably remember our schools for lots of things – good and bad – but for me, as an expat child, school served as an important link in my life growing up. The support my schools provided in developing and encouraging extra-curricular activities and social networks was a huge bonus and made making friends an integral part of my experience.
My experience was by no means as turbulent as those expat kids that move between multiple locations globally. However, I believe the expat experience truly opens up a multitude of possibilities and exposure to different cultures which promotes an open-mind and the ability to see the world in many different ways.
If my story resonates with you I would be delighted to hear about your personal experience.
Recently I have found myself in several conversations about global mobility risk. Due largely to geo political reasons there is a sense the economic, social and environmental landscape is becoming ever more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (“VUCA”).
For many, the stresses and pressure of the situation are relentless and overbearing, things are just getting too difficult, the challenges that require bridging just seem to be too big even for the most experienced leaders in business and society.
In my opinion, VUCA is simply one of many ways to describe the wider landscape within which business is operating. It captures a difficult, systemic truth about the state of our markets, our society and our politics.
However we describe the current landscape, most business leaders agree that everything is in a state of flux – so much so that the very idea that businesses can continue to generate revenues from a marketplace where they have built a level of competitive advantage seem to be under threat.
So, what do we do?
Perhaps the most useful strategy is not to get hung up on trying to mitigate all risks, but to focus on maximising the potential opportunities that VUCA can provide. Ensuring there is capacity to respond quickly to opportunities and to take calculated risks could offer any organisations quite a considerable advantage.
Businesses must take risks to survive. Yet all businesses must also try and mitigate those risks in order to survive.
Traditionally the approach to identifying risk has fallen to the person at the top of the pile or at very best to those sitting on the board. Yet the more diversified and devolved the process identifying risk, then the more likely it is the knowledge and understanding of which effective strategies could be implemented. This inclusive approach has the added benefit of creating spaces in which innovation around opportunities are more likely to happen.
The new goal of business strategy is to understand how to constantly evolve competitive advantage, adjusting to an increasingly dynamic and uncertain world.
Agile companies are able to confidently take more risks not only because they have more diverse, inclusive risk scanning capabilities, but because they can quickly flex if the decisions they made turn out to be wrong. They can learn from those mistakes and move forward. Risk taking then can become a learning strategy in its own right.
When strategy becomes difficult and the direction, scale and scope of change is difficult to map, it is always far to easy to just do nothing. But it is clear to me that not taking action to create an agile capability that can thrive on risk leaves companies open to falling behind their competitors.
From extreme weather resulting in forest fires across Europe, a devastating earthquake in Indonesia, political unrest in Iran and Zimbabwe and the continual threat of terrorism, only goes to further highlights the importance of duty of care for organisations with globally mobile employees.
Although mobility is essential for the strategic global growth of any business, it does not come without inherent risks to both the individual and the organisation. Employees can be caught up in anything from political unrest, natural disasters, outbreak of a disease or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Duty of care is deep-seated within most organisations policies and business processes when it comes to dealing with risks in the workplace, however it becomes more challenging when that workplace could be located anywhere in the world. So what can be done to provide adequate duty of care for those globally mobile employees?
What is Duty of Care?
Duty of care is an employer’s responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who may be affected by their business. Organisations must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this. This is a very broad term and as you would expect is open to a certain amount of ambiguity. It is therefore not surprising that there can often be a lack of clarity of what is needed in order to provide the necessary duty of care for all concerned, especially when it comes to those global employees.
What Steps Should Be Taken?
For those organisations who may not necessarily have the resources to create and administer a comprehensive global mobility risk management programme it can be a challenging and sometimes daunting task. Organisations may need examine the end to end processes in order to ensure that the corporate policy ticks all of the duty of care boxes. Breaking the stages down into logical steps allows for far easier management of the process.
The core steps that should be considered are:
- Understanding the Risks
An important first step would be for businesses to analyse and determine their mobility exposure. This is where accurate global mobility data can be very useful, by collating information on all of their globally mobile employees worldwide, their locations, job functions, employee behaviour, mitigating circumstances and scheduled travel allows global mobility teams to build a detailed picture of the potential risk. Organisation must also consider special locations, risks and coverages. For instance, the needs of expatriate and long-term assignees will have different factors compared to the needs of short-term assignments and business travellers.
- Developing the Policy
Organisations will likely need to bring together key stakeholders from across the business and potentially an external expert to assist with the development of the mobility risk policy. The risk policy needs to be robust and fully embedded with the central global mobility and travel polices before being effectively communicated to all. Incorporated into these policies should be procedures and strategies for both proactive and reactive situations and guidance on the roles and responsibilities of internal and external stakeholders, along with detailed information on the range of assistance partners and insurance programmes that are in place.
Once the policy is in place, effective communication to employees will be key to ensure they are aware of the commitment undertaken by the business and also what roles they themselves need to play.
There is training and education that can be provided for employees and managers, these can be in the form of online travel safety awareness courses to medical risks and country specific knowledge and intercultural training.
Geographical monitoring will be able to provide trusted pre and on-trip information, covering destination risk assessments, medical information and country profiles. Thus ensuring organisations and their employees are as prepared as possible before any travel or assignment commences.
The next type of monitoring comes in the form of the individual employee. Possessing accurate real-time data on their static locations, planned and current travel itineraries will enable businesses to take any necessary steps to help ensure their safety. Having systems in place that allow organisations to locate and communicate swiftly and clearly with employees is critical to managing and mitigating any risks.
Offering both reactive and proactive support for employees around the clock is a key factor for any effective duty of care programme. Organisations may need to communicate updated travel information or guidance to employees during their trip or assignment, employees may also have their own medical or security concerns that they require advice or assistance with.
Having solid channels of communication with globally mobile employees will enable organisations and individuals to pre-empt (where possible) and effectively deal with any potential incidents that they may arise.
Although rare, there will be times when businesses and their employees may find themselves faced with the unimaginable. It is therefore vital that organisations implement an incident management programme to plan, avoid and respond to such crisis situations (e.g. emergency evacuations, terrorism, political unrest, natural disasters etc.). The incident management plan should be developed with all stakeholders both internally and externally, and be regularly revisited, updated and tested.
At this day in age it’s difficult to foresee all eventualities, however having a robust duty of care policy and risk management strategy which is effectively implemented and communicated throughout the business helps to offer piece of mind to employees and an efficient response structure should the worst happen.
Through our engagement with HR & Global Mobility leaders we have noticed a trend that many Global Mobility teams are striving to move away from being seen as an administrative function that purely co-ordinates employee moves, to instead being seen as a more valued strategic contributor to the organisation. However, the reality is those leaders are experiencing varying degrees of success.
Support for change is needed from across the business which is no easy task considering the commercial reality, competing priorities and tight resources many organisations are facing.
Buy-in from the senior management teams is crucial to enable and drive change within Global Mobility programmes.
Challenges for Obtaining Buy-in?
There are several challenges for Global Mobility teams who are striving for change.
Organisations are typically resistant to change and generally there is a lack of understanding of compliance duties. Add to this limited resources and the fact that collaboration and integration between functions remain the exception not the norm. This can often mean that there is dearth of consistent identity and positioning for Global Mobility within the business.
Operationally, there is more regulation and compliance than ever before. This adds additional risks and costs when moving and hiring talent across borders. These continually changing regulations and compliance requirements are uncompromising and highly stringent on employers.
A persuasive case to the management will have to focus on how an effective global mobility function will address these challenges, both strategically and operationally.
Aligning Global Mobility to the Wider Business Strategy
A crucial element to gain management support is to ensure that there is a vision of what Global Mobility should look like for the business. This will enable the senior management team to have a better understanding of how Global Mobility can align to the wider organisational strategy.
A few areas for consideration:
- Corporate Culture and Objectives
Understanding the high level goals of the organisation and what it is trying to achieve should ultimately determine the shape and form of any mobility programme.
Due to the ever dynamic nature of international business and uncertainty in the geopolitical landscape, many organisations need more flexibility and agility when deploying employees globally in order to increase competitive advantage.
Also, Global Mobility teams should consider how their programmes are aligned with the culture and core values of the organisation.
If the employee journey and experience is an important focus within the business, does this align with the current mobility programme? Are employee aspirations, expectations or experiences a consideration or is the focus driven by process and compliance tick boxing?
- Reducing Cost and Increasing ROI
Cost and return on investment will always be important for senior management, subsequently the key themes will be around the implications of organisational mobility in terms of investment, savings and returns.
Will changes in policies, procedures, systems or resources require investment? What are the expected returns – cost savings, resulting efficiencies?
Typically, we see the cost of Global Mobility being passed from department to department before ultimately coming out of the HR budget. A fully owned and ring-fenced budget, managed by a centralised Global Mobility function, will enable financial transparency for management purposes, through improved planning, accountability and effective vendor management.
- Technology Innovation
Improvements in technology now offer a huge amount of potential to enhance efficiency and effectiveness within Global Mobility programmes.
Global Mobility teams and organisations are moving away from locally managed spreadsheets to more comprehensive future-proofed technology platforms that support integration between functions such as HR, Global Mobility, Tax and Payroll.
But it doesn’t stop there, there is also an increased focus on data and how it can be utilised to better drive decisions, strategy and action. Analysing accurate data across Global Mobility programmes allows teams to measure and improve service performance, identify risk and trends and enable informed decision-making by both the senior management teams and the mobility function.
- Talent Strategy
The war on talent is relentless and competition for talent is fierce, however an effective Global Mobility programme can offer the potential to enhance talent acquisition and development for all levels of employees.
Strategically, Global Mobility should unite in the process of forecasting and planning for the future talent needs of the business. What skill sets does the organisations need to attract, where will they need to be and when will they be needed?
Another key area within talent strategy and where Global Mobility could add value is identifying and developing future leaders within the business. It is important for these future leaders to acquire the international exposure and experience that is expected for senior management positions.
The opportunity to work internationally is now a key draw for many employees seeking new roles, especially for Millennials who place a huge amount of importance on gaining professional experience within different cultures. Employers who incorporate international opportunities within their employee development schemes will be more appealing to top talent.
On the flip side there needs to be a focus on retaining repatriating employees. In order to avoid high attrition rates, these employees will want to understand what their future remit will be within the organisation.
Impact of Global Mobility Strategy
Securing senior management buy-in is imperative in developing a truly effective and sustainable approach to Global Mobility. Ultimately it rests on convincing senior management that Global Mobility can deliver in alignment with the overall business objectives, supporting the organisation’s competitive advantage.
By Chris Debner – Strategic Global Mobility Advisory
CX – What we all experience
Think of Starbucks and the friendly messages that are written on your cups, or how easy it has become to return an unwanted Amazon purchase.
If you’ve not heard of CX yet, you have certainly experienced it. CX stands for customer experience and is defined as the sum of perceptions that customers of goods and services experience during the interaction between with an organization over the duration of the relationship. We are all customers, almost constantly…
It is how we become aware, discover, cultivate, purchase and advocate for a good or service. Companies are designing the customer experience carefully to create a pleasant and meaningful experience for their customers, so that they will return and maybe even recommend the goods or services to others.
Imagine if your company could leverage this experience and apply to your employees, to become more successful.
From CX to EX – More for us to experience
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”Stephen R. Covey
EX – employee experience is translating this concept to the workplace to create higher attraction, better employer image, engagement and resulting performance and retention.
Talent Management starts to take the responsibility to create engaging and meaningful employee experiences and employees’ perceptions during the course of the entire employee life cycle.
A survey conducted by IBM of 23,000 employees in 45 countries revealed that more positive employee experiences are linked to better performance, extra effort at work, and lower turnover intentions. The key organizational practices that drove more positive employee experiences are described in the survey as organizational trust; co-worker relationships; meaningful work; recognition, feedback and growth; empowerment and voice; and work-life balance.
Think of Google or Facebook offices and how they create employee experience, the Volkswagen policy that bans e-mails after office hours or IBM offering remote working.
“The battle for the hearts and minds of employees is played out daily through their workplace experiences.” IBM Smarter Workforce Institute
As customers we are used to be offered ever increasing levels of customisation in the goods and services that we buy. The logical evolution of this is that this approach evolves into other areas, and before long, if employers cannot enable their employees to customise their employee experience, whether in career path or in benefit packages, they will lose out to those that can.
It is a shift of the perception from the traditional way of seeing the employee as a resource to seeing the employee as a customer that needs to be attracted, engaged and retained. EX is therefore not just Talent Management, or workplace design, but rather a new paradigm that should permeate all interactions that an employee experiences during the employee life cycle.
Think of onboarding processes, technology user-experiences, self-directed learning, performance management processes and company purpose among many others.
EX drives culture and performance of an organisation. An increasing amount of companies are committing to it and the number of positions offered for Employee Experience Managers are on the rise. It will be a key success factor for companies to attract, engage and retain the future workforce.
EX in Mobility – one of most significant experiences
“It is beyond a doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience.” Immanuel Kant
International assignments are undisputed to be one the most significant experiences an employee can have during his or her career. It involves their families and creates great learning and developmental opportunities when living and working in other cultural contexts, but also creates risks of life stress, family separation, and reintegration risk on repatriation.
Imagine that you were in a position to create an employee experience where the vast majority of your assignees would be engaged performers who can be retained after their assignments.
The EX focus needs to be brought into mobility management. Many Mobility functions are still stuck in the paradigm that is all about administration and compliance. Compliance should be perceived for what it really is, a hygiene factor that has absolutely no power to create a positive experience for the employee. Only the absence of compliance has the potential to make employees unhappy. Learn more about it in my article Compliance – A hygiene factor.
Think of a filed tax return, a granted work permit or a kidnapping training.
Mobility management is slowly realizing their real purpose: To create a meaningful and engaging, stress free experience for employees and their families when they are being sent on an assignment.
The focus in Mobility also needs to shift to the paradigm of EX – employee experience.
EX in Mobility – how to
A good start would be to take a close look at all the interactions that an employee (and even their families) experience before, during and after an assignment. Look at how positive experiences look like and how negative perceptions are created. Besides your assignees and their families, you will realize that many of your stakeholders (business, talent management) are also employees that experience the way you conduct your business. And do not forget about the many external providers that you use, who interact with your employees and create EX.
If you are not able to come up with negative and positive experiences ask your stakeholders, they will be happy to tell you all about it.
The next step of this exercise is to consider what you can do to minimize or eliminate the identified negative employee experiences and to look for ways to create more of the positive ones, so that they can more effectively deliver on their new professional responsibilities when abroad.
A nice example comes from a large e-commerce company who lists all former assignees in a database as possible mentors for future assignees. This gives the former assignees a meaningful experience when sharing what they learned on their assignments and the future assignees a great way to prepare for the challenges lying ahead, benefiting from the support of employees who mastered the challenges.
Another example I came across, is a European material science company which focusses on the enhancement of the interaction between the business and mobility. The process was re-designed to create a meaningful communication between the two sides, where expectations from both sides were openly shared and a better understanding achieved.
There are many more examples out there and you can likely think of some that you witnessed yourself, when a change effort results in a better employee experience.
EX – the new paradigm for HR
To conclude, EX is the new paradigm that HR has to adapt for it is one of the most meaningful contributions to their companies success, when the right workforce can be attracted, engaged and retained. The leading companies are adopting the new paradigm, and those that don’t will fall behind. Mobility departments, being in charge of one of the most meaningful experiences in an employee’s career, need to shift their perception from compliance to their real purpose – the creation of meaningful and positive experiences for their assignees.