The biggest factor impacting global mobility is perhaps the most obvious: globalization—of society and business alike. But, there are other factors at play as well, such as research showing multicultural teams being more creative and productive compared to monocultural teams, and, younger professional generations increasingly expecting to get opportunities to work abroad at earlier stages of their careers. Looking forward, it’s clear that global mobility will have a continued impact on a company’s business growth and talent retention. These are some of the issues creating a buzz in the world of global mobility in 2019:

World Affairs Have an Impact

Reading about global mobility, and trying to learn what lies ahead for the globally mobile community, one thing is clear—world affairs can’t be ignored. Most professional publications and polls have Brexit as the leading cause of uncertainty. So, while no one knows exactly what’s going to happen, there is a consensus that the ramifications of Brexit stretch way beyond the UK borders. Whole industries might have to shift the way they do business, how and where they move people, and where they are located. 

Brexit isn’t the only world affair impacting global mobility, there are other big shifts happening that have the potential to reshape and disrupt how people move and work in the coming years. Tightening immigration policies in many countries, including the US, is a big issue, as are power shifts in countries like Germany. 

The currents of nationalism and the tightening of borders around the world make moving a global workforce more difficult. So, while travel across the globe has gotten easier and cheaper over the years, the process of relocating for work hasn’t necessarily followed suit. That’s why immigration and immigration policy continue to be important issues that have a significant impact on a company’s approach to global mobility. 

Cross-Border Mobility Redefined

Even though current world affairs come with a measure of uncertainty, it still appears that many companies are expecting the demand for cross-border mobility to increase. AIRINC’s most recent Mobility Outlook Survey (2018) reports that 54 percent of companies anticipate an increased demand for cross-border mobility this year. However, the types of mobility are not all the same, as companies, and assignees, continue to expand the way cross-border mobility is defined. Short-term assignments, developmental assignments, and commuter assignments are all on the rise. 

There is no clear-cut definition of what a commuter assignment is. EU law defines cross-border commuters as those who live in one EU country but work in another and return at least once a week. Others define a commuter assignment as living in the work location Monday through Friday, or some variant in between, but permanently residing elsewhere. 

Short-term assignments can be as brief as four to six weeks and are a way to attract younger talent who have grown up seeing themselves as citizens of the world, and for whom the traditional international expat assignment of two to three years is not an attractive option. 

Developmental assignments are also largely a response to attract younger generations wanting to work abroad as part of a greater desire to learn and network in an international setting—not just because it’s good for the career, but because it’s good on a personal level. Matthew Maclachlan writes in a Learnlight Insights article: “The Modern Assignee is keen to exploit the opportunity of travel to learn about other cultures and to develop skills that give an immediate return on the international stage.” 

Employee Experience (Ex)

As recruiters are struggling to find flexible talent to meet the challenges of modern businesses, as well as attracting and retaining talent, Employee Experience (Ex) is becoming a catchphrase. According to AIRINC’s study, 89 percent of companies are looking to improve the employee experience. What constitutes a “good experience” varies, spanning everything from offering flexible benefit options, to providing a sense of autonomy, to streamlining the employee’s point of contact, and offering more flexibility in type of assignment. 

Online Accessibility, Please!

Younger generations are used to accessing information whenever and wherever, which means that most everything needs to be available online: assignment descriptions, policies, travel arrangements, destination information, as well as personal and social interactions. Digital and virtual channels are becoming increasingly important in attracting a global workforce.  

Analytics to Report on Success of International Assignments

Gathering information to measure how assignments are working out—for the business and the employee alike—is an important goal for many companies. While the AIRINC study shows that many companies collect data to measure employee satisfaction and performance during an assignment, very few continue to gather data after repatriation. Using metrics gathered post-assignment can provide vital information needed to make adjustments for future assignments. Currently, only 12 percent of companies in AIRINC’s study say they regularly use analytics to report on assignment success. However, 48 percent report that they intend to add analytics to track success rates in the future. 

To Conclude

The demographics of the global workforce is changing, as are the circumstances for how we access and relay information, what we define as an international assignment, as well as what an assignment is expected to provide. What hasn’t changed in the world of global mobility is the need for communication and awareness—from an organizational level down to the personal level, regardless of origin and destination, duration and scope. 

By: Felicia Shermis




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