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.
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.