Global mobility transformation moves up a gear

Alongside compliance and global risk management, responsiveness to business needs, supporting talent management and controlling costs are top of mind for global mobility professionals, finds KPMG’s 'Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey: 2022 summary report'.

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Global mobility expertise will play an increasingly important role in helping businesses achieve their objectives concludes this latest instalment of KPMG’s global mobility benchmarking series.

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Mobility that is fit for the future

Describing how global mobility programmes are continually evolving, KPMG Global Mobility Services' annual study has become the benchmarking standard for many global mobility leaders of multinational organisations as they prepare their talent mobility programs for the future.Based on the experiences of 375 global mobility leaders representing 25 countries, the report offers valuable insights into how employers are doubling-down on talent attraction, recruitment and retention, responding to external challenges and refining current and future working practices, and the role of global mobility functions in these overarching goals.For global talent mobility functions, the past year has seen teams:
  • becoming leaner and more strategic through outsourcing high-volume administrative transactions such as individual tax and immigration compliance, global compensation collection and payroll reporting, equity tracking and reporting, and managing cross-border business traveller risks
  • adopting digital, automation, and other technologies to streamline operations and service delivery and enhance employee experience
  • continuing to build an interconnected ecosystem of internal stakeholders and external service providers to support key data management and insights, and provide end-to-end mobility experience for its employees
  • collaborating with human resources on DEI initiatives, talent planning, and workforce shaping
  • contributing positively to improved organisational performance on environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG) goals and practices
  • demonstrating to senior management and the board that there has been a significant return on investment for the company’s talent mobility spend.
“By taking this strategic approach, the global talent mobility function can be recognised as an indispensable advisor and partner to the business, playing a critical role in attracting, engaging, mobilising, developing, and retaining global talent,” says KPMG International’s Global Mobility Services’ report.

Talent mobility takes shape

While global mobility programmes are not always aligned yet to the organisation’s overarching talent management initiatives (37% are and 63% are not), KPMG’s latest Future of HR report, From Flux to Flow, also released today, highlighted those global organisations that are already blazing a trail towards internal talent marketplaces.These agile ecosystems are able to cross borders and are “about understanding the skills your organisation needs now and in the future, and asking questions around whether it’s possible to create skilled workforces that can undertake task-based or project-based work.”The ongoing, more purposeful integration between global talent mobility and talent management functions is one of five key findings in this latest GAPP study.
  1. Integration between global talent mobility and talent management: Over seven in ten (71%) respondents ranked ‘supporting overall business and talent development objectives’ as a top programme goal for international assignments.
  1. Flexibility in policy approach continues: with supporting employee experience and managing global talent key objectives, 52% of survey participants identify core versus flex practices and 18% a cafeteria-style approach to supporting international assignees, their recruitment and retention.
  1. Technology takes off: global mobility is increasingly understanding the role of streamlined approaches to assignment administration, integrated platforms and ‘single sources of data truth’ solutions that span the global mobility spectrum and offer assignees self-service options as well as 24/7 online support. In 2022, 30% of survey participants say they are using analytics to guide their global talent mobility policy and decision-making.
  1. Supporting talent experience: the increasingly strategic role of the global mobility function in businesses is seeing in-house professionals outsource transactional aspects of the role like tax consulting (91%), tax return preparation (89%), immigration (84%), relocation management services (82%), destination services (70%) in order to focus instead on ensuring excellence in employee experience and strategic workforce planning, adding value to the enterprise.
  1. The return to the office: while remote working has had a positive impact on talent management, 65% of CEOs regard the office as the go-to workplace for the next three years.

The impact on mobility policies and practices

What impact are these shifts having on global mobility policies and practices? Pre-pandemic, the GAPP survey in 2020 pointed to increasing diversity of benefits policies and practices as short-term placements increased. 2022’s GAPP survey suggests a continuation of this trend post-pandemic.Participants predict a more selective use of international business travel with a greater use of shorter-term assignments, and permanent/indefinite country to country transfers.The most common policy approaches for assignments of less than 12 months include per diem allowances (83%), home leave, host-location transportation and security briefings (all 78%) and host-location housing (76%).KPMG also predicts that talent mobility will follow some of the trends started during the pandemic for remote international working and hybrid approaches, and warns again of the compliance challenges.“Talent mobility will also likely be coupled with both domestic and global virtual assignments with flexible hybrid and fully remote work options continuing for certain employer workforces.“While this may result in a nimbler workforce, with program costs typically lower than traditional expats, there still are costs, corporate and employee compliance risks, and a continuing overall HR duty of care of employees under this spectrum of alternative mobile work arrangements.”Among these compliance risks are assignment lead times and businesses not considering them (77%), the complexity of foreign immigration laws (65%) and changing (47%) and tighter (46%) immigration rules.Looking ahead, recognising the growing links between talent attraction and global mobility, KPMG also expects global mobility teams increasingly to embed corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives into policy and practice.Diversifying global mobility policies and programmes for wider applications can help keep key DEI objectives front and centre,” says KPMG. “Seeking out and valuing diversity in all its forms can help ensure that all talents are utilised and aligned with the organisation’s talent, culture, brand and business development goals, with the aim of creating an organisation that embraces the full spectrum and power of diversity.“[...] As the focus on ESG performance intensifies over the years to come, global talent mobility teams should bring a new mindset toward aligning their programmes and operating models to help their organisations become more sustainable, socially responsible, and accountable.”

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