How the digital revolution will affect the future workforce

As social media technology continues to develop rapidly, how can businesses respond to ensure younger employees feel engaged while on overseas assignments?

Digital communication
This article is taken from a series surrounding Relocate’s Festival of Global Mobility Thinking on 11 May 2018. The highly successful, interactive event included speakers such as Prof Dr Dimitry Kochenov, author of the Henley & Partners Quality of Nationality Index (QNI); and Dr Linda Holbeche, author of The Agile Organization. For more information and to find out how you can get involved in this unique event next year, contact: 
Employees’ use of social media and smart phone technology is shaping their expectations of how workplace communication should operate.At the same time, technology is changing the way organisations identify mobile talent and engage with employees from recruitment to redeployment. 

Millennials and Generation X use of technology in the workplace

Experts in global mobility have identified a growing willingness to feedback and share information about overseas assignments amongst younger employees. In return, they expect organisations to be open and to respond in a two-way conversation.Danny Taggart, a Director in Deloitte’s Global Workforce team, who advises clients on technology approach and mobility analytics, argues that digital technologies offer a massive opportunity for the global mobility function and mobile employees alike.“The diversity of talent in the workforce is changing, along with employee perspectives” he says. “Think of the ‘traditional expat’ posted overseas 20 years ago, and compare with the expectations and needs of millennials today. Technology is the enabler to meet the rapidly shifting demands of the modern workforce.”
Employees’ use of social media and smartphone technology is shaping their expectations of workplace communications. “Employee openness can often be down to generational influence,” says Danny. “Millennials are very conversant with mobile and digital tools, comfortable providing feedback in real-time and expect responses in a similar time frame. Their use of technology in their personal lives drives expectation of corporate service. This personal use, from banking and retail to service reviews, and from social media to sharing data, is defining what they expect from the organization they work for.”He warns, however, that feedback and monitoring will only work if the employee feels that they are listened to, and that decisions are taken with feedback in mind.In terms of mobility, he says a lot of successful overseas placements are about setting the right expectations.“We need to look at the human side of mobility,” he says. “It can be stressful and challenging. What’s important is making people feel as though their wants and needs are being taken into account.”Given the cost of recruiting and assigning employees to overseas posts, it is cost effective for the business to ensure that their experience is positive, and that they stay with the company during and after the assignment.“There is more and more focus on the objective of having happy assignees,” he says. “Increasingly, employers are able to check that they are happy with their assignment by using smart mobile technology for instant feedback.”In the digital age employees and their families can experience their potential new surroundings via virtual reality rather than going on a costly initial “look and see” trip.
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“When you are proposing to send someone on assignment, they will want an idea of the housing options, the office where they will be working, and the schools they might send their children to. Employers are now able to provide a totally immersive virtual reality experience for them before they even think about stepping onto a plane”.The term ‘Fourth industrial revolution’ (often referred to as Industry 4.0 in Europe) is one where digital technologies and data analytics are revolutionising many modern-day industries, particularly manufacturing.Deloitte argue that the impact of Industry 4.0 is also applicable to Global Mobility, where the advent of ‘digital accelerators’ and employer focus on employee engagement and social responsibility are changing the landscape of this critical area of corporate strategy.Rumi Das, who leads the Global Workforce Transformation offering and has extensive experience assisting companies to transform their Global Mobility, Talent and Reward programmes across multiple industries and geographies, says using technology is a powerful way of bringing together all of the stakeholders involved in global mobility.“Moving is stressful and challenging and we see a shift in Global Mobility with programmes being more proactive and personalised,” she says. There is an increased focus on the human side of mobility as well as setting the right expectations from the onset.”

Managing cost of international assignments

Given the cost of recruiting and assigning employees to overseas posts, it is not only an employer responsibility to ensure that their experience is positive, and that they stay with the company during and after the assignment, but also cost effective. “There is more and more focus on the objective of having positive and engaged assignees, and being able to demonstrably measure this” Danny says. “Organisations are already looking at ways of continuously checking-in with employee sentiment, using smart mobile technology for instant feedback.”He cites the analogy of the ‘smiley’ or ‘grumpy’ faced buttons as you come through airport security – a good example of immediate sentiment-based feedback on their experience.“Employers can constantly monitor employee satisfaction via analytics, rather than waiting to assess wellbeing at six monthly intervals or at the end of an assignment – often through lengthy questionnaires - when it might be too late to redress any issues” he says. “Again, it’s about setting the right expectations and ensuring that the employee knows that their feedback will be received, analysed and ultimately acted upon if need be.”Rumi Das says using technology is a powerful way of bringing together all of the stakeholders involved in global mobility.“So many stakeholders are involved in the assignment process,” she says. “The assignee, employer, HR, mobility teams. In a digital world with increasing transparency and the growing influence of millennials, employees expect a productive, engaging and enjoyable work experience. Rather than focusing narrowly on employee engagement, organisations are developing an integrated focus on the entire employee experience. We examine how it can improve the typical journey that an employee takes from selection to posting, and then on to when they repatriate or go on to another posting.”

Identifying talent around the world

Technology can also analyse data and identify talent around the world. “It can look at your whole universe of employees and allow you to select the right individual with the right skill set at the right time, overlaid with tax and immigration compliance aspect,” she says.“Rather than silo thinking, how can we bring it all together? When someone is moving they typically have a tax provider, HR contact, relocation provider, all of whom require access to the same information at the various times. For the employee, it would be a simpler experience to have all of their data and provider information in ‘one platform’. Technology exists that achieve this by creating an eco-system that integrates data from separate sources but in a way where the employee experience feels seamless and connected.”For related news and features, visit our Technology section. Find out more about our Relocate AwardsRelocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory 

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