Organisations are under increasing pressure to demonstrate return on their global mobility programmes. Crucially, this entails taking the mobility function beyond the role of a reactive, operational service, to become a strategic driver delivering value across the organisation.

This transformation however necessitates collaboration with wider business functions and areas of strategic importance. One area that, perhaps surprisingly, remains untapped is collaboration with the talent management function.

Moving Talent & Mobility Closer Together

Global organisations can only meet their business needs with a workforce that offers relevant skillsets, experience and knowledge.

And as shortages in skills proliferate across regions and industries, employers are increasingly relying on workforce mobility to meet their commercial requirements. This could mean recruiting from overseas, or deploying existing personnel on assignment abroad.

While effective fulfilment of these requirements demands expertise from both talent management and global mobility functions, they are typically brought into processes separately and at different stages – meaning, in our experience, their full, combined potential is not being realised.

Mobility fundamentals such as risk management will continue to require the specialist expertise of mobility professionals, not least to avert the threat of non-compliance.

However early collaboration as part of talent-related initiatives such as succession planning should be pursued to reposition global mobility as a strategic contributor and internal enabler – which is crucial in deriving maximum value and impact from a mobile workforce.

Leaders with International Experience

For multinational organisations, it is essential that those in leadership positions are capable and experienced in managing the company’s global interests with a sufficiently international perspective and understanding.

One way organisations are addressing this need is by incorporating overseas assignments into the succession planning and nurturing process.

Overseas assignments offer future leadership candidates the benefit of international exposure, experience and insight. The organisation benefits from enhanced talent capability at a senior level.

There are however risks which threaten the successful outcome of leadership development posts, but where a joined-up approach by the talent and mobility teams can deliver solutions.

A commonly-cited reason for failure in overseas assignments is candidate selection. The talent team is concerned with identifying and nurturing those with appropriate leadership potential. The mobility team is looking at a different set of criteria for ensuring success of the assignment, based on specific post requirements and candidates’ ability to cope with the challenges of relocating, however temporarily.

Pooling both sets of criteria at an early stage results not only in process efficiencies, but will ensure higher prospects of success and return on investment as issues can be preempted or managed in context.

Appealing to Millenials

Competition for best talent has never been greater, particularly for millenials as they fast become the largest segment of the working population.

For this demographic cohort, an organisation’s ability to show sustained investment in international mobility, and offer international opportunities, is highly influential in its appeal as a potential employer.

But more than this, employers need to demonstrate to potential recruits how an overseas post can positively influence an employee’s career progression within the organisation. This is where talent and mobility converge with real impact.

Career Progression & Measurable Impact

Global mobility functions are under continued pressure to reduce the overall cost of assignments and demonstrate return on investment.

Through closer collaboration between mobility and talent teams, organisations should seek to improve their entire approach to career progression, and leverage the benefits to demonstrate value to workforce development.

The aim is to gauge how international assignments impact, alter or improve an employee’s career prospects within your organisation.

For example, organisations should look to ascertain:

  • How career paths and progressions compare between those who have been on international assignment, and those who have not?
  • What is the attrition rate among returning employees, compared with the rest of the workforce?

This requires data sharing and open communication between talent and mobility functions, most effectively through systems integration.

Enhanced data intelligence can help to maximise investment, resources and activity across both functions. Data analysis enables more effective decision making concerning for example candidate selection for assignment or the level and nature of support required by an employee and their dependants while overseas. Mobility costs become more predictable and risks are more effectively managed.

It is also important to encompass every stage of the employee ‘lifecycle’ within the data initiatives. With 12% of returning employees leaving employers prematurely following repatriation, mobility functions should be looking at how their organisation compares, and the effectiveness of repatriation strategies in minimising loss of investment in both talent development and mobility terms.

Conclusion

Global mobility has quickly established itself as a business-critical function. To derive maximum value however it should not be left to operate as a silo.

By improving collaboration with the talent management function, mobility professionals can seek to actively contribute to workforce planning and people development for the benefit of the wider organisation.