Shaping global mobility’s future: RES Forum discussion

Guests at The RES Forum’s high-level breakfast meeting at 30 St Mary Axe, London, in May were treated to a preview of the networking group’s latest Annual Report.

Image of the Gherkin building, London
Written by Professor Michael Dickmann of Cranfield University, the membership forum’s study is always anticipated for its insight into real-life challenges and opportunities for the global mobility function. This year was no different, with the Annual Report and discussions at this breakfast setting out an inspiring picture of mobility’s future.

Flexing to meet millennials’ mobility aspirations

Showing exactly the current trends, topics and themes both feeding into and informed by the RES Forum’s report, published on 7 June, the first question for discussion at the 25 May event was to what extent can cross-border working and GM form part of your employee value proposition (EVP).Posed by Andreas Piacentini, RES Forum co-founder, this question linked the highly relevant themes of millennial career aspirations, flexibility and “segments of one”, with the challenges this is creating for businesses and their employees in recruiting and retaining key talent.Among the heads of global mobility, talent and reward attending, there was a sense from the discussion that while these trends are recognised and understood, policies and processes are struggling to keep up. Assignees want more personalisation and flexibility, and so it will be increasingly important to focus on individuals, was the consensus view. Tech-native millennials and Generation Z are accustomed to and expect consumer websites to serve them individually on-point new products – a gap currently being missed by HRIS, policy and practice, and that requires a big shift in mindset to achieve.

Global mobility with purpose and strategic intent

Here the discussion moved to the role of global mobility experts in responding to these trends towards flexibility in relocation arrangements. There was some consensus this could usefully be a switch in focus away from being a “clean-up crew” towards becoming a strategic partner to the business and its organisational development. A redefined mobility function working in closer alliance with talent teams could advise from the compliance perspective in advance of offer letters, and meet this more granular approach to assignees’ needs, including for post-assignment retention and in long-term career planning.  Professor Michael Dickmann took up the second question on the agenda to explore whether mobility and GM roles are moving towards such purpose, effectiveness and experience. Or, if are we witnessing a hollowing out of mobility roles.

A new model for mobility: SAFE 

To frame the conversations, Professor Dickmann introduced the Smart, Agile, Flawless and Effective (SAFE) model of GM roles. This splits the GM function into four quadrants to reflect the fill scope of the role, from the operational to strategic, people to processes.From the discussion, there was a sense this strategic, organisational development-focused role is attractive for GM leaders and in practice  as evidenced in the HR categories of our Relocate Award winners this year. However, many had not quite reached this goal, despite the focus remaining on aligning GM with business strategies.In practical terms, the advice for GM is to look at the quadrant and find ways to add value to their own organisations through it, including by assignees transferring knowledge during and after assignment to add value to the organisation.

The vital role of networks – internal and external

A further key theme, tying in with sentiment earlier in the session, was the growing importance of internal networking so GM has contacts in the business to assist with meeting their strategic goals.From an external networking perspective, Jose Segade, RES Forum co-founder, introduced the last question on mobility and thought leadership. This focused on envisaging The RES Forum Advisory Board as the 1,600-member-strong association moves into an exciting new phase of its development.For more information on The RES Forum, its ethos and aims, please visit its websiteFor related news and features, visit our mobility industry section. Find out who won in this year's Relocate AwardsRelocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory

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