Stakeholder input in global mobility planning, decision-making and performance outcomes

The movement of individuals to different countries on assignment involves a wide range of stakeholders and requires excellent co-ordination, communication and efficiencies if the desired performance outcomes are to be achieved. Dr Sue Shortland explains.

Stakeholder input in global mobility planning decision-making and performance outcomes
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This article is taken from the latest issue of Think Global People magazine.Click on the cover to access the digital edition.

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International mobility involves a wide range of stakeholder groups. Most obviously there is the individual who is being moved abroad to take up an international assignment along with any accompanying family members. In addition though there will be input in terms of the decision-making from the home and host country line managers, the Human Resources Department, the talent function and, of course, global mobility professionals tasked with ensuring that the move goes ahead. It is unlikely that international mobility will be managed completely internally and hence there will also be a wide range of service providers who take responsibility for ensuring that the various provisions of the relocation policy are put into place and delivered both efficiently and cost effectively.Excellent inter-relationships between all of the stakeholder groups are crucial to a successful appointment decision, the transfer of the individual to the new location and the ability of that person to fulfil their performance objectives to the best of their ability.

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To start with, the first group of stakeholders involved in mobility decision-making must work together to ensure that the most appropriate individual is selected for the international role. Increasingly, this is forming part of a specialist talent management function within the HR department working alongside the requirements of the business in the host country. Input from the host country line manager and home country talent and HR professionals is therefore necessary but this must be conducted within the context of discussions with the sending home country manager as well. It requires agreement and good communication between both sending and receiving line managers to ensure a smooth and effective transfer.Global mobility professionals tend to manage the day-to-day aspects of the move itself and therefore have their finger on the pulse as to the complexities that this involves and the likely impact this may have on the individuals selected to go. It is therefore important that this stakeholder group has an input into this selection decision-making process.The relocation of an individual is the only area within HR where family are directly part of the company’s responsibilities – either spouses/partners and/or children are moving with the employee or the transfer will separate them. Knowledge and understanding of an individual’s family circumstances, including such aspects as dual careers and children’s education, will therefore have a direct impact on the feasibility of an individual to move and the likelihood of their assignment being a success.Given the role of the family in supporting individuals on assignment, gathering information from these stakeholders as to their willingness and ability to move with the employee (or the effect of separation upon them should they stay behind) is crucial to the assignment selection decision.

Assignment types

Planning for international mobility involves consideration of assignment length. The types of assignments used will have an effect upon all stakeholder groups – short-term, commuter, rotational and other forms of flexible assignments are typically unaccompanied and thus have an effect upon the individual and family involved. Long-term assignments are usually accompanied and similarly will influence the decision of the individual and the family members. The home and host line management will also have a view as to the appropriate length of time of the assignment – from the host country perspective how long that person is required, and from the home country perspective for how long can that person be spared.It is also important to consider the communication approaches being used in terms of identifying and selecting appropriate talent, holding discussions with family members and communicating the outcome of the selection decision and policy components that will apply to the move. These must be articulated carefully and presented in writing so that the individual and family are able to make a sensible decision on the implications of moving. This will also guide both home and host management as to the benefits that will be provided and any service providers as to what they can offer within policy and budget.

Service providers

The range of service providers that can be used to support global mobility is very wide. Global mobility providers can manage every aspect of the process and they may do this themselves or call upon external specialists to assist them. As demonstrated by this year’s Relocate Awards, destination services providers can assist with finding housing and schools as well as orientation, networking and cultural support. They can also assist dual career couples with work opportunities for spouses and partners. Linking people with role models and networks is particularly helpful for accompanying family members.Education provision for children is crucial to the assignment success and the performance outcomes of the assignee. Once again, as demonstrated through the Relocate Awards, education consultancies can help with bridging gaps in education through home tutoring and helping to find appropriate schools to enrol students. The international schools themselves are extremely proficient and active in supporting families by helping parents as well as their children to settle in and make friends. Access to support mechanisms, such as buddy groups, are particularly valuable for family members.Housing is absolutely crucial to the assignment success and to the performance outcomes of the assignee. A happy home creates a happy family and the provision of suitable accommodation whether this is via a serviced apartment or a rental property is a fundamental part of the relocation package. There is no doubt that there are a number of extremely capable, competent and supportive housing specialists in the marketplace who will go the extra mile to ensure availability and flexibility in accommodation provision to ensure housing at high quality but within a cost-effective budget.

Technology and in-person support

There is always a debate as to whether relocation support should be provided through a strong hand-holding approach or more remotely via technology. If assignees are to focus on their job and reach their performance targets, the less time they spend on mundane issues linked to their mobility the better. As such technological solutions where they can access various services via phone apps are clearly helpful as they are cost- and time-effective, but these do need to be backed up by the human touch to resolve problems. It is therefore important to ensure that technological solutions are supported by personal service, ideally one that operates 24/7.

Environmental, social and governance issues

Organisations today are very concerned about their ESG credentials and there is considerable effort being placed on reducing carbon emissions and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. Stakeholder groups should therefore work together to ensure that they all follow a credible environmental policy and tailor policy provision and implementation in such a way as to ensure carbon reductions.ESG also involves a social aspect and efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion goals should also be in evidence. It is also important to consider the role of stakeholders within context and in an international environment, the cultural aspects involved in moving individuals and their families must be taken into account. The receiving culture needs to be receptive to a diverse group of internationally mobile people and hence training interventions should go beyond the employee and family to encompass relevant individuals within the receiving workforce.Governance involves going beyond compliance issues such as tax and immigration to encompass proactive leadership that recognises the development that comes through international mobility and to reward the career growth that can flow from it.In addition, it is important to remember that in today’s technologically networked world, many of the roles that are performed by international assignees can also be done remotely. Hence, it is also important to consider the stakeholders involved in remote working and the ESG framework surrounding this in order to achieve success through this form of international employment.

The rewards of stakeholder excellence

It can be seen that there are many stakeholder groups involved as international mobility touches on the work and lives of so many people. Excellence in leadership, global mobility and all of the service functions associated with international assignments is crucial to organisational success. This is why the Relocate Awards set out to champion this and to reward inspirational practice.Bringing together excellence across all of the stakeholders involved in international mobility sets the stage for high performance outcomes and organisational and individual growth. It can only be a win-win situation when all stakeholders champion excellence, communicate effectively and work together seamlessly for the benefit of global relocation.

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