Five trends in global mobility

Des McKell, director of business development in EMEA at Plus Relocation identifies and analyses five key trends in global mobility:

businesspeople moving around the world
If you will pardon the tautology, there is a great deal of movement currently going on in global mobility. Employees are more mobile than ever and this increase is set to continue.According to the PwC report Managing tomorrow's people: The future of work to 2020, assignee levels have increased by 25 per cent over the past decade, and a further growth of 50 per cent is predicted in mobile employees by 2020.Global mobility practitioners need to offer variety in corporate policies to fit with the needs of today's relocating employees, while fulfilling budget requirements and supporting the organisation's talent mobility management programme. Recent conversations with our clients have identified the following five key trends that are influencing the way mobility is managed to support talent management and build an effective global leadership pipeline.

Trend One: Centralisation, with a regional lens

Change is both constant and rapid and many companies have found they can be more nimble by centralising their global mobility programmes and maintaining regional administration.More centralisation doesn't diminish the importance of regional mobility teams. In fact, it further defines their value. They not only bring their regional experience and perspective to the table – which benefits employees and vendor management relationships – they also give solid internal support to their business unit managers.Companies are taking full advantage of sophisticated mobility and communication technologies that help global teams work together in real time, sharing screen views, chatting over video and even getting to know each other personally through social media.Companies in Europe are increasingly leveraging global mobility outsourcing. This brings a number of benefits including administrative consistency, global reporting abilities and regional support to local HR, as well as global compensation collection support, benefit-in-kind tax reporting and direct employee relocation management support.

Trend Two: Transparent is the new black

'Transparency' is the watchword of the decade, and it's increasingly essential to the workings of the centralised approach with regional representation and support.Precise, easily obtained, rapidly analysed, timely, targeted and more extensive data, metrics and reporting play a considerable role in the decisions made by global mobility professionals and their companies. Organisations are using mobility data to make policy and deployment decisions, create financial forecasts and formulate projections about possible organisational and programme outcomes. Accurate and complete data leads to reporting and metrics that tell a powerful story, which is invaluable to secure senior leadership support for global mobility programme additions or revisions.Transparency is driven by technology and reporting; senior management and other internal customers expect and need quick answers and valid data.

Trend Three: Ownership is changing hands

Many companies are aware of the close connection between HR and mobility and there is also an understanding that recruitment and retention factor into a next-generation talent mobility strategy. Global mobility programmes have traditionally been housed in one of the HR 'spokes' in an organisation (recruiting, staffing, or compensation and benefits) or occasionally, the finance department.Ownership is changing: companies are shifting to an HR 'shared services' model, with global mobility reporting in to this department. Companies choose this approach because there is high potential in a streamlined, standardised, employee-centric model for:• fewer customised policies and exceptions
• greater employee support and satisfaction
• more accurate mobility metrics
• firmer compliance
• a deeper understanding of the relationship of mobility to talent management

Trend Four: On the wane: traditional global assignments

Traditional long-term assignments are continuing to dwindle. They're expensive, and often come with a six figure price tag. More cost-effective assignment options include permanent relocations, local-plus packages and short-term assignments.Young professionals, who are more mobile than their established counterparts, expect and want global experience, and are also more willing to take an assignment without all the enticements of a long-term assignment package.Reducing programme costs is often a primary consideration, and in the case of global assignments where types of compensation differ, there is also the need to be mindful of equality for the in-region workforce. One trend that has increased through 2015 is the practice of hiring previous expatriates as local employees, and converting assignments to local-plus structures.

Trend Five: Compliance is a serious business

It's the nature of global expansion that the risk increases exponentially with
opportunities for growth. The more global and mobile the workforce, the greater the potential for immigration, tax, legal and regulatory mishaps.Compliance challenges can be constant, subject to change, difficult to track and address and administratively challenging. The consequences of getting it wrong are costly, and could damage a company's reputation in a country – or worse.There are processes that, if implemented, improve a company's ability to stay compliant, such as global compensation accumulation, benefit-in-kind reporting, travel approvals and tracking extended business travellers.Mobility managers will be increasingly challenged to deliver a set of well-aligned relocation services. 2016 will be a year to 'de-clutter' the policy cupboards and offer a robust mobility strategy based on policies that make sense for the company's goals in the current environment. Smart HR departments are building strong internal brands for the relocation services and innovative uses of technology can help to deliver better experiences with greater cost controls.
Des McKell Plus Relocation
Des McKell, director of business development in EMEA, Plus Relocation

For more Relocate Global news and features about the global mobility industry, click here