Mobility and Talent Management: a partnership made in heaven

Two themes commonly recur at conferences and in papers relating to relocation: how can Relocation Service Providers help their clients in the "war for talent" and how can we minimise the risk of a failed assignment?

Two themes commonly recur at conferences and in papers relating to relocation:&#x; how can Relocation Service Providers help their clients in the &#x;war for talent&#x; and how can we minimise the risk of a failed assignment? In this article, Bob Roberston, director at Robertson Langauges International offers some answers:Language and cross-cultural training must be a significant part of any answer because language and cultural issues lie at the heart of both challenges and, compared to other items on the budget, they are inexpensive.We read that competition between companies to attract the best qualified and most gifted staff is fierce and will intensify as the economic situation improves. According to research, the current generation of university leavers thinks differently from their parents in ways that are critically important to employers and by extension to Relocation Service Providers.The so-called Millennial Generation has grown up with reliable computers, the internet, mobile devices, thinks nothing of travelling to the other side of the world, does not expect to stay with an employer for more than a few years, considers training and development more important than salary and values lifestyle above both.The new generation of assignees may be no less demanding than their predecessors, but their demands are different. They do not just see an overseas assignment as a way to earn money and status if the havoc it causes to their family can be kept to a minimum or generously recompensed.&#x;They see it as an opportunity to improve themselves through international travel (to which they are already well-accustomed), learn new skills, meet new people and to become informed citizens of the world.More significantly, they see these as ends in themselves. In fact, most of our trainees tell us that the benefits they hope to derive from their assignment are fluency in another language, evidence of competence in international business and the chance for their children to grow up bilingual.This gives us an opportunity to add value to our clients. If assignees are telling us that their personal priority is to improve their language and cross-cultural competence, we should help them. This will benefit us by producing a happier assignee and it will benefit our client companies because it will help them win the war for talent by giving their employees what they really want.Another benefit of language and cross-cultural training is that it is probably the cheapest and easiest way to ensure a successful assignment. Anecdotal evidence and published reports confirm that the one of the most common reasons assignees give for cutting an international assignment short is that they or their spouse did not settle in to the new location.Since it is impossible to develop viable relationships, understand your surroundings and work effectively without communicating with people and understanding their behaviour, adequate language and cross-cultural skills must be essential.At best, the misunderstandings that arise dramatically reduce the employee&#x;s value to his employer and, with the enormous cost of a typical international assignment, no-one wants that.&#x; All too often trainees are sent to us for language and cultural training many months into their assignment once the problem can no longer be ignored. &#x;He&#x;s meant to be an expert, but he doesn&#x;t say anything in meetings&#x;, &#x;He&#x;s the big-wig from Head Office but the staff don&#x;t get on with him because of the way he behaves&#x; are genuine comments we have received.A current trend in the relocation industry is to work with talent management and nowhere is the opportunity to do so greater than in the realm of language and cross-cultural training, which also meets the expressed desires of the new generation of employees.For end-clients, offering language and cross-cultural training is a valuable, perhaps essential, weapon in the war for talent. For Destination Service Providers, offering language and cross-cultural support is the cheapest and most effective route to a successful relocation and another service to offer your clients.For further information please contact bob@robertsonlanguages.com.