Global Mobility – money well spent?

Global Mobility is playing a strategic role

Global Mobility continues to play a vital strategic role for medium and large business across the world. Not only are companies investing significant sums in relocating key staff overseas to fill skills gaps, they are also using assignments to develop and train future executives. HR departments are under pressure to attract and retain the brightest talent, and they know that overseas experience is essential for future business leaders and senior executives.

How successful are mobility programmes?

The big question however, is just how successful mobility programmes are in achieving these strategic goals? Do they actually help retain talent, or is the opposite true, do they cause talented staff to leave? Mobility programmes that are not properly supported across the business, or have inconsistencies across regions can have a major negative impact on the assignee. They can rapidly become de-motivated and at an increased risk of being poached by the competition. Not surprisingly organisations are looking into their programmes to justify their investment, but this is not easy to do.  According to the 2016 Global Mobility Report, while 83% of business leaders believed their Global mobility programmes delivered a positive return on investment, they were hard pressed to actually demonstrate the value to the wider organisation.

A recent survey by the RES forum and Move found that only 18% of organisations felt their Global Mobility programme met expectations and 0% believed they exceeded expectations. The aims of the programme may be laudable and ambitious, the reality lags some way behind.

How can businesses maximise their return on investment?

The experience an assignee has before, during, and after the assignment will significantly impact their likelihood to remain within the business in the longer term. It is therefore vitally important that their ‘assignment journey’ is fully monitored at all stages. A business that doesn’t understand the total experience will have difficulty prioritising improvements.  They’ll be less able to retain and develop their valuable assets, and they will struggle to demonstrate a return on the programme to the wider business.

Crucially businesses need to be in a position to react as soon as things start to go wrong.  If an assignee’s experience is derailing, it’s no use waiting until they return home to find out what the problem was, it will likely be too late. To really look after staff (in the short term and the long term) organisations need to know what’s happening on the ground. Among a host of factors affecting the assignee’s experience you need to know; is there sufficient support in the field, has the assignee been properly briefed prior to the move, are the assignee’s family needs catered for, and are there clear objectives in place?

Lack of insight into the employee experience is a problem that can be overcome. Setting up a Global Mobility research programme gives businesses the clarity they need to think and act strategically, and improve talent retention.

However it’s not a straightforward process, and whilst every organisation will have a common goal, their actual needs from the research will vary. As an introduction we’ve produced a guide to designing a world class Global Mobility Research programme, which explores:

– The wider benefits of the programme

– The value and Return on Investment

– What to measure; the business journey, logistics, support & care

By getting the research programme right you can really impact the internal and external perception of the company, improve performance, and demonstrate the value of the programme to the business.

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