Barriers to Transforming Mobility

Although many companies are making changes to the way mobility is managed, some are encountering barriers.

BGRS’s 2017 Talent Mobility Trends Survey (TMTS) confirmed a majority of survey respondents either recently made, are making, or are planning to make changes to the way employee mobility is managed in their organizations. However, 15 percent of respondents do not fall into this group; they are not currently, nor are they planning, in the next two years, to make changes to their mobility program management. The survey data uncovered the challenges these companies face and what may be hindering at least some of them from embarking on their change journeys.

Talent Mobility and Organizational Connectivity

Talent mobility can be an enabler of companies’ commercial success; and creating a closer synergy between Talent Mobility, Talent Management and the business will effectively combat the current growing talent shortage. Based on the survey data however, for companies slow to make changes, Talent Mobility may still need to make inroads to connect these functions. Only one-quarter (26 percent) of these companies indicate talent mobility’s primary role in their organization is to align the mobility program to support the achievement of global organization’s objectives; this compares to 39 percent of overall survey respondents. For nearly half of companies (47 percent) not making changes, their primary role is to ensure transferring employees receive optimal service delivery.

In addition, there may be more limited visibility in these companies as to the perceived value of mobility. For 37 percent of respondents not making changes it is unclear where mobility falls on their senior leadership’s agenda, versus 12 percent of overall respondents. Furthermore, one-quarter (26 percent) do not know if international work experience is a prerequisite to joining their company’s global leadership team. This compares to 12 percent of overall respondents who indicate the same.

Understanding talent mobility’s role in achieving key business objectives is the first step in affecting change in an organization. Of course, there is a level of functional readiness required to make changes to talent mobility management; nevertheless, engaging the talent mobility function with other drivers of change in the organization will yield greater results.

Top Three Obstacles to Change

According to the 2017 TMTS, for those organizations not making changes, lack of executive buy-in, resources and stakeholder alignment are the top three obstacles.

Lack of Executive Buy-in

The number one enabler of success, according to the 2017 TMTS, is senior leadership support to promote change efforts. Thirty-five percent of overall respondents identified leadership’s support as critical and the top enabler of their change efforts’ success. Transformation projects are inherently wide reaching; senior-level backing drives the changes necessary across the organization. Notably, companies making changes are more likely to have the attention of their executive teams. Specifically, 63 percent of companies making changes stated talent mobility is high on their senior leadership’s agenda, whereas for companies not making changes, that number is far less (37 percent).

Resource Constraints

Across the board, companies ask their teams to do more with less, and Talent Mobility is no different. The change journey is complex and at times resource intensive. Having adequate bandwidth and the means to undertake a mobility transformation is a top concern for companies not currently undergoing change. According to the 2017 TMTS, of companies not making changes, a higher percentage have smaller, less complex mobility programs than overall respondents. Smaller companies, with these restrictions and simpler talent mobility programs, are less likely to make a change.

Lack of Stakeholder Alignment

Stakeholder alignment, like executive buy-in, is essential for transformation. According to the 2017 TMTS, 33 percent of companies currently undergoing change or recently concluding a change initiative, stated stakeholder buy-in is a key trigger for change. Of those, 64 percent reported Talent Management support is paramount. Talent mobility can launch initiatives designed to change or improve mobility management, but without cross-functional support from, for example, Talent Management or Human Resources, the efforts may be insurmountable.

While these barriers can be difficult to overcome, they also offer defined goals for talent mobility leaders considering embarking on their change journey. Understanding organizational readiness and assessing availability of key enablers will support successful future mobility change initiatives.

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