This white paper will examine the global mobility trends that exist in the market today, while looking ahead to the future, and the changes and innovations that are continuing to transform and reshape our entire industry. In order for Relocation Management Companies (RMCs) to be truly valuable and effective partners to their clients and their global workforce, it is imperative that they look far beyond the current trends, and be able to develop and execute aggressive strategies that better position their clients for a more competitive global mobility program, and design that program in a way that enables them to achieve their overall talent management and business goals. This means that in order for RMCs to be successful tomorrow, they have to make important changes today. We already see this happening across a wide spectrum in our industry.
At VERSA, we recognize and embrace the changes that are occurring throughout the global business environment, and we know that the old ways of delivering global mobility solutions don’t necessarily fit within the increased, modern demands of today’s employee culture and mobile workforce. Thus, we need to do more than simply deliver mobility services that align with and are based on those needs; we have to anticipate them before they even happen. So, when it comes to global mobility trends, it’s not enough to know what they are and how to react to them, we have to stay in front of them and lead the way forward.
GLOBAL MOBILITY TRENDS
There are several notable trends that are revolutionizing global mobility today. In an article published in the Winter 2018/2019 issue of International HR Advisor, entitled: “Back to the Future: Assessing the Predicted Mobility Trends of 2018,” Deloitte takes a look back at three of the big global mobility trends that were predicted for 2018 and the impact they have had thus far.
Those 3 global mobility trends are:
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
This trend speaks to the diversity of the workforce in general. The article states, “Mobility today includes a broader array of employee types and a multitude of locations, with numerous talent traffic lanes. This has driven the need for closer alignment between move types and support levels, as well as more flexible and agile service delivery models that meet the requirements of a changing, diverse population.”
In other words, the mobile workforce itself is changing, while the programs being administered are changing along with it. There has been an obvious shift away from the more traditional, rigid programs and policies, to ones that offer more flexible options.
Likewise, according to the article, there has been a rise in flexible policies around short-term assignments, business trips, immersive experiences, and commuter models.
Additionally, the article states that the responsibilities being placed on global mobility are also becoming more diversified, and that in 2018 there was an increase in activities supported by or led by the global mobility function. Those include international recruitment, global workforce planning and location strategy. These additional responsibilities are expected to continue in 2019.
This one seems perhaps the most obvious global mobility trend happening today, as companies have taken big steps towards designing and re-designing their mobility programs to be more employee-centric. As a result, companies are becoming more focused on providing a more personalized, unique employee relocation experience. This means putting the needs of the employee at the very heart of the entire relocation process.
According to the Deloitte article, this focus on the employee has affected a shift in the way that relocating employees perceive global mobility.
It states, “Where compensation was previously seen as the primary incentive for global moves, a human-centric global mobility experience needs to engage the individual and provide validation on both a personal and professional level. A personalized, agile, holistic experience is essential to attracting, motivating, and developing the global workforce, and will typically result in improved engagement between employee and employer.”
We concur with the Deloitte prediction that the employee experience will continue to be a key priority for organizations moving forward. To do this successfully, we have to give more of a voice to relocating employees and let them have an active role in the process. This means providing improved engagement with the employees in various ways that reinforce how valuable they are to the organization, and how invested the organization is on their career success.
Just as digital technologies continues to transform other industries, it is equally making great strides within global mobility. We rely on various technologies and digital platforms to streamline cumbersome processes in a way that keeps costs relatively low, while increasing day-to-day operational efficiencies. We see this happening with the advent of new technology and innovations that allow various parties and systems to seamlessly communicate with one another, thus eliminating the need for redundant data entry and information.
Furthermore, the adoption of digital technology allows for transparency among the stakeholders, while providing easy access to information through the use of computers and mobile devices from anywhere at anytime.
According to the Deloitte article, moving towards more digital formats and strategically shifting to digital processes and activities of the mobility function is a trend that is expected to remain very high on the list of priorities for organizations throughout 2019.
LOOKING BEYOND THE TRENDS
The idea of looking beyond the trends can be easier said than done. For us, we believe that we must look at global mobility in a very holistic way. This means taking a deeper look at the diversity that exists within the workforce, the generational shifts that are occurring and impacting business culture, the technology and innovations that make processes easier and more efficient to execute, and to design programs that put the employee experience at the very center of mobility program development.
A diverse workforce means that it has become increasingly more difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all global mobility program. Those types of programs do not place the focus on the employee or the employee’s experience. Organizations need to ask themselves whether their global mobility policies and programs accurately reflect the unique needs of their global workforce.
Although we live in a rapidly changing world, where technology and innovation continue to revolutionize the ways in which we live and do business, we find ourselves in an industry that has been relatively slow to adapt and change. Many of the mobility policies and programs have been administered and managed much the same way for the past couple of decades.
Now, with the changing employee demographic, coupled with the rise of the employee experience, we can no longer afford to do things the same old way. So, organizations need to be steadfast in their review and evaluation of their current global mobility policies and programs to make sure that they are still the right fit for their employee population. At the same time, they need to place considerable importance on the employee experience.
The rise of the employee experience
The rise of the employee experience cannot be overemphasized. This is something that remains at the forefront of nearly all discussions pertaining to the evolution and future of our industry. So, in discussing current global mobility trends, the heightened focus around the employee mobility experience seems to be the one that stands out the most right now. At its very core, it is about moving away from a merely transactional approach into a more personalized, human approach to mobility program administration and management.
The idea is to enhance the overall employee relocation experience by putting the employee at the very center of the process. Just as businesses compete with one another by trying to create a better customer experience, employers are doing much the same thing in creating a better employee experience. Thus, the rise of the customer experience opened the gateway to the rise in the employee experience.
In an article published in January of last year, Forbes called “2018 The Year of Employee Experience.” The article defines employee experience as the sum of everything an employee experiences throughout his or her connection to the organization. In other words, the employee experience encompasses every employee interaction, from the first contact as a potential recruit, to the last interaction upon leaving the organization.
Against the backdrop of a war on talent, the employee experience has become much more important as a way for companies to compete against each other for top talent. So, providing a better employee experience has become key for companies to be able to recruit and retain the necessary talent within their organizations. It has been shown that a focus on the employee experience can go a long way in employee satisfaction, productivity, and their desire to stay and grow their career within an organization.
It is also worth noting that the focus on the employee experience has coincided with the generational shifts taking place within the workforce.
Generational shifts within the workforce
Millennials continue to become the predominant generation within the workforce, with Generation Z close behind, as older generations are moving towards retirement. Such generational shifts are having an enormous impact on company culture, policies, and benefits, as well as global mobility programs.
It has been widely reported that Millennials have expressed a strong desire to have the international experiences associated with an overseas assignment. The potential for such an experience is often the very factor that attracts them to a particular company or position. Not only that, but employees view mobility as the pathway to career development, and the way to gain valuable skills, knowledge and work experience that in turn make them more valuable as employees.
According to Mercer’s “Global Talent Trends 2019,”when it comes to Millennials in the workplace, they are looking for more purpose, inspiration, and connectivity. This ties into the overall importance of the employee experience.
What organizations should expect from their RMC
So, what does all of this mean for the relationship between RMCs and their clients? In today’s ever-changing global business environment, it is more critical than ever before that RMCs continually prove their worth as true advocates and trusted partners to the clients they serve. But, it goes beyond merely partnering with their clients; they have to lead the way forward. RMCs have to be more strategic in their approach when it comes to the delivery of global mobility management services and solutions.
It’s not enough for RMCs to be goal-driven; they must be goal-aligned to each of their clients. In so doing, they should be able to provide expert guidance to meet the challenges that their clients might face today, tomorrow, and into the future. Likewise, organizations have to be able to rely on their RMCs to have their fingers firmly on the pulse of global mobility trends, and how to best leverage those trends to their benefit.
It is our belief that now is the time to create a new vision for the future of global mobility. That vision will be one that incorporates the trends occurring within our industry in order to make much needed improvements to the design of global mobility programs.
As we look back at what has worked well, and what challenges still exist for organizations and their global workforce, we know that in many ways it is time to reinvent the wheel. As such, we have to reimagine our role and what we bring to the table as providers of global mobility solutions. We believe that we must do far more than just manage global mobility programs. We have to anticipate the needs of our clients and their relocating employees, by staying one step ahead of any issues or red flags that could arise at any point along the way. We have to have the answers before the questions are even asked.
It is evident that now is the time to lead, follow, or get out of the way. Those who choose to lead their clients into the future will do much more than endure the vast changes on the horizon. They will be the architects of that change, and the driving force that leads the way forward.
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