What’s Affecting Global Mobility in 2017?
The wider socio-economic and political events of 2016 have influenced many of the important international trends affecting global mobility in 2017. This article will explore five areas likely to impact global mobility in 2017.
Globalization and Nationalism
The British vote to leave the European Union and the United States’ presidential election are just two events that can be seen as symbols of rising nationalism. Yet, globalization seems as strong as ever – companies continue to expand and move their talent across borders, technology is bringing people closer together, and international travel is at an all-time high. Events that once sat only at the local level are now national news and have a global impact.
Globalization and nationalism are two concepts that share important positions in the mobility arena. Globalization is a process of interaction and integration of global talent. On the other hand, nationalism draws upon a much more local view of talent. External forces have seemingly impacted a move toward nationalism and its lack of harmony with globalization is causing some concern that globalization may be slowing down. Despite competing forces that speak to a potential reverse globalization effect, they continue to grow in parallel. The path of cross border movement will continue and companies will need to continue to adapt in order to fuel organizational growth and talent pipelines.
The Gig Economy
A gig economy offers flexible work arrangements, instead of traditional, in-office, full-time jobs with a single company. Arguably, the gig economy is a new name for contract and freelance employees, but there is no denying it continues to take traction. A study conducted by Intuit reported, by 2020 more than 40% of the workforce will be freelancers, contractors, and temporary workers.
Companies are dipping into this workforce to fill interim positions, as budget flexibility and hiring freezes continue. Although it remains to be seen if this trend will ultimately have a direct impact on global mobility programs, global mobility leaders need to be aware and stay apprised of their company’s talent acquisition strategies. Mobility’s response to this newer employee type may need to encompass greater flexibility, stricter repayment agreements, increased use of communication technology, and more self-directed mobility programs.
Global Domestic Policies
The appeal of developing global domestic policies continues to gain momentum. The BGRS Global Mobility Trends Survey indicated that over two-thirds (69%) of respondents use a global approach for policy standardization in 2010. Just five years later, the survey results indicated this increased to nearly all respondents (92%) stating they have a standardized global approach for policies. Companies are looking to bring this level of consistency to developing their local domestic mobility policies and practices as well.
The entire domestic mobility function can be managed and governed under a common strategy by bringing local country or regional domestic policies “under one roof.” This also ensures harmony in global processes and service delivery, and helps maintain consistent compliance practices.
Although there are clear benefits to this approach, there are some challenges as well. Many companies have not yet established a strategy for global domestic relocation and struggle to build consensus among key stakeholders. This is especially noticeable in the relationship between the centralized global mobility function and the local function that manages domestic moves within a given country or region. The most successful companies are able to implement a discovery process to identify local country practices, and use these practices to create a flexible regional or global standard. In other words, creating a global framework, but also allowing for flexibility – setting appropriate provisions for individual countries. As a result, domestic costs may increase, but standardization and greater compliance benefits will offset these costs.
Access to Performance Metrics
As technology and changes in the workforce continue to impact all aspects of mobility, the global mobility function is in a position to create a more meaningful role in the organization.
With a greater focus on metrics, global mobility leaders can identify areas of the business impacted by mobility and explore data analytics to meet their objectives. Gathering and analyzing metrics can build and promote a mobility program that supports talent management, develops human capital, improves Human Resources’ effectiveness, optimizes relocation cost, retention, and aligns to business goals.
According to the Global Mobility Trends Survey, over half (59%) of the survey respondents indicated that in recent years, senior leadership has increased their expectation of the quantity and breadth of mobility program-related analytics. Yet, challenges to fully utilize data analytics still exist. Although global mobility leaders aspire to proactively use metrics for predictive decision making, the reality is most companies remain in a state of evolution. Most global mobility leaders cite common and continued challenges such as a lack of technology, absence of defined processes, and resource constraints.
In today’s environment, flexibility has entrenched itself in all aspects of mobility. Introducing flexible policies, for example, often allows the business to maintain costs while better meeting the individual needs of the relocating employees and families. It can also provide employees more self-serve options.
A more flexible mobility program may have its challenges. Often the business and employees need more guidelines and education about operating in a flexible environment. In addition, sometimes technology limitations make it difficult to institute truly flexible offerings and there needs to be a trade-off in understanding how that might increase administrative complexity.
For a flexible program to succeed, clear guidelines, communication, documentation, internal buy-in, and general consistency across the mobility program must exist. Mobility leaders should prepare and implement a well thought out, global roll-out to affect any inconsistency the flexibility may breed.
Global awareness will be paramount to understanding how events in other countries will impact the larger global market in 2017. As companies look for flexibility and consistencies across all aspects of their business, global mobility leaders have some challenges ahead as they react to these changes. To be successful, global mobility leaders should align with other business functions to promote effective talent deployment, management and retention. These areas will support mobility leaders as they strengthen the mobility program within their organization.