Boardrooms now recognising mobility as growth engine: study

BGRS’s latest annual survey suggests company executives are increasingly valuing the role of global talent mobility as a strategic priority on the path to growth and for employee satisfaction.

Global workforce
A major new finding of research by BGRS, previously known as Brookfield Global Relocation Services, explored how employee mobility is transforming to support overall corporate growth strategies is that senior HR leaders are approaching talent mobility with a new sense of purpose and support from the top.

Organisational change and mobility

The survey found a total of 63 per cent of respondents felt that employee mobility is high on their organisations’ leadership agenda, highlighting what BGRS believes to be a strategic shift in thinking about how global talent is managed. A further 85 per cent of respondents either recently made, are making, or are planning to make strategic changes to the way employee mobility is managed in their organisations. Of those with programmes currently underway, 58 per cent says these are transformational changes.The shifts are largely to align their talent mobility teams’ primary remit with overall business strategy, develop innovative talent strategies and help business leaders achieve their objectives.

Key drivers of mobility change, benefits and success indicators

BGRS's 2017 Talent Mobility Trends Survey found the top three internal drivers of change impacting mobility are:
  1. change in business strategy
  2. broader organisational transformation
  3. changing reasons for mobility
The organisational improvements of these changes are:
  1. achieving operational benefits
  2. enhancing employee experience
  3. optimising mobility costs
Respondents identify the success of mobility changes are mainly reliant on:
  1. key stakeholder buy-in
  2. availability of the data to justify the need for change
  3. strong synergy with talent management

‘Purposeful mobility’

“The world’s leading companies are embracing talent mobility as an engine for growth, global expansion and workforce diversity and inclusion,” said Joy Lee, director of talent mobility consulting at BGRS and report author.“With mobility now firmly in the sights of organisations’ senior leadership, we see a heightened sense of urgency and action – demonstrating a clear shift away from mobility being merely a process oriented function toward a strategically purposeful one.”
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Transformational mobility

This year’s BGRS study, which reflects input from more than 120 talent mobility human resource professionals representing more than 12 million employees worldwide, examines talent mobility transformation across four key areas:
  1. Cross-functional and talent management alignment
  2. Mobile employee experience
  3. Mobility technology, data and analytics 
  4. Talent mobility function and programme

Cross-functional and talent management alignment

Here the data showed talent 52 per cent of mobility teams are fully aligned with compensation and benefits. Seven in ten are “somewhat” engaged with talent development and 59 per cent with succession planning.More than one quarter of respondents (27 per cent) say that international work experience is a prerequisite to joining their company’s senior leadership team. In an increasingly globalised business landscape, this indicates a clear generational shift.Today, only twenty-two percent (22 per cent) of Fortune 100 CEOs have international work experience. Further, of the ten oldest Fortune 100 CEOs, only two have taken international assignments, but among the youngest ten, eight have worked outside of their home country, says BGRS.

Transforming mobility to enhance employee satisfaction

Nearly half of survey respondents (49 per cent) indicate the primary reason for improving the mobile employee experience is to improve satisfaction. Improving communication with employees and attracting candidates to open positions were also reported as reasons for seeking to enhance experiences before, during and after assignments.Employee experience is no longer one-dimensionally focused on compensation package and satisfaction with the relocation service, notes BGRS. It now encompasses impact on the long-term employee career. Younger employees not only desire international experience, but also expect it to have a tangible impact on their future. Here, BGRS identifies that the top three actions companies are taking to improve employee experiences on assignment are:
  1. developing mobility intranet portals and pages
  2. working with leadership to promote mobility
  3. launching employee satisfaction surveys and focus groups

Embedding data analytics and talent mobility

With global mobility on the senior leadership agenda, having robust, accurate data is an imperative. The BGRS data also shows this is one of the areas with most room for improvement and development if talent mobility is to maximise its benefits to the business.67 per cent of respondents say that in the last three years the amount of data, analytics and benchmarks requested by top management regarding mobility has increased. Yet, 57 per cent) of respondents indicate they don’t have sufficient access to data that allows them to gain the insight they need into their company’s mobility program. The top three most significant data gaps reported are mobile employee retention statistics, aggregated cost of mobility programs and employee career progression data.

The future talent mobility function and progamme

“We are seeing a seismic shift in the changing nature of work – from demographics, innovation and digital disruption, to globalisation versus protectionism and employee outlook," says Ellyn Karetnick, vice president and global head of talent mobility consulting at BGRS."Flexibility in practices and innovative work arrangements are paramount. For some organisations, it’s about deployment and getting ‘boots on the ground’, whereas for others it’s about linking mobile talent with succession and career planning. In either case, focus is on contribution to business growth and how mobility can be an effective lever to drive the bottom line.” For related news and features, visit our Human Resources section.Relocate’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 DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  

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