Global mobility in the US: current trends

With the presidential election fast approaching and ripples from the UK vote to leave the European Union being felt around the world, these are exciting times for global mobility in the US.

Aperian Global. US mobility

See more features about global mobility in the Autumn 2016 issue of Relocate magazine on our Digital Issues page.

As part of our autumn focus on relocation and global mobility in the USA, Relocate Global’s managing editor, Fiona Murchie, asked Laurette Bennhold-Samaan, COO of cross-cultural training and consultancy provider Aperian Global, to comment on the latest trends.FM: US economic growth is weaker than expected for 2016, although recent press coverage indicates that last quarter was promising. What does this mean for inbound relocation and domestic relocation, and for US companies seeking new markets overseas?LB-S: Our clients express their need to continuously reduce costs, address talent gaps and talent management shortages, remain creative and innovative, and better utilise technology.Those who have mastered how to address and respond to these challenges remain viable and cutting edge. Businesses have been, and will need to, adjust to shifting demographics and workforce preference to build new capabilities and revitalise their organisations.FM: Are talent shortages currently an issue for your clients?LB-S: One way to address the talent gaps and shortages is to look outside one’s own borders to global talent. However, using expatriates is only one means of tapping talent; other options are to leverage the local or regional talent, use more short-term or rotational assignments, or move parts of the organisation to where the talent is already based.Depending on which of these methods is deployed will impact the number of international relocations.

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FM: As the final leg of the US presidential election approaches, what are the implications for global mobility and relocation of a change of leadership and, perhaps, the country’s first woman president?LB-S: According to the Pew Research Center, the US voters this year will be the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse ever. Nearly one in three of those eligible to vote will be Hispanic, black, Asian, or from another racial or ethnic minority, up from 29 per cent in 2012.Much of this change is due to strong growth among Hispanic eligible voters, in particular US-born youth.The US is accustomed to diversity, as currently most expatriate assignments globally are to the US. If a president is elected who embraces less diversity, we may perhaps see a decline of interested expat talent wanting to take on US assignments.Even with the potential for the first woman president and the voter population being more diverse, there is an ever-growing need to better understand our own lens of culture – how we view each other and the world – in order to live and work together effectively.
For the next question, Laurette Bennhold-Samaan handed over to Aperian Global’s president, David Everhart, who is based in London.FM: We know that the US is the single largest investor in the UK, and that many US companies regard the UK as the gateway to trading with other EU member states. How will the UK’s planned exit from the EU affect US businesses and the wider US economy? Are there signs from your clients that US companies will move their European operations from the UK to other EU member states?DE: It is still unclear what the full impact of Brexit will be on US companies invested in the UK. Some US-based firms, mostly financial services companies, announced very quickly in the wake of the vote that they planned to move jobs from London to Europe, but few have yet taken much action.Because the British pound has fallen in value, international tourism remains very strong. The overriding sentiment seems to be ‘let’s wait and see’. The disaster scenarios predicted before the vote have not yet happened, and the FTSE and other stock markets have fully recovered or are above their pre- Brexit levels.There is a growing feeling of confidence in London that, at least in the short term, the Brexit vote will have less of a negative impact than originally feared.For US companies in the UK, the best advice is pay very close attention to trends going forward, but don’t panic.

For related features, see our US section. 

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