Global mobility leaders, much like the rest of the business community, are under continued pressure to find cost savings and deliver operational efficiencies. But improving global mobility efficiency translates into benefits beyond cost reductions.

Enhanced operational precision and accuracy creates more robust compliance practices, and alleviating demands on mobility professionals’ time enables focus on strategic contribution.

There is however a balance to be achieved. Strip back your mobility programme too much and you risk exposure to compliance issues, difficulties in attracting and retaining talent, and reputational harm.

How can organisations improve the efficiency of their global mobility programme without impacting effectiveness?

Automation

Global mobility is arguably one of the more complex areas of HR; operating and co-ordinating multiple, sophisticated processes; ensuring compliance; managing and financing supply chains; and delivering employee move support.

Among these complexities, many elements are in fact able to be simplified, improved, automated.

Immigration compliance has fast become a popular area of automation.

UK employers are under a duty to check that all employees have, at the point of onboarding and throughout the course of their employment, permission to undertake the work in question.

A technology-led approach to capturing, authenticating and storing immigration and ID documentation is a highly effective approach to mitigating this substantial area of risk for HR teams, while avoiding the threat of a civil penalty notice.

Self-service technology also offers an automated solution for employers looking to provide a high standard of support to relocating employees.

Through a self-service system, employees are able to access up-to-date information to help in organising their move, from budget management, to accessing preferred suppliers, and finding out more about their destination.

Through automation, you are aiming to operate seamless mobility processes. But more than this, automation also has the advantage of enabling metrics and data collation. This not only allows you to measure return on investment, it also provides intelligence for wider strategic application, benchmarking and best practice purposes.

Data collation & analysis

It is paramount for organisations to understand the full extent of their mobility activities. This goes beyond cost counting.

Organisations should look to capture data relating to the full mobility life cyle. Processing leadtimes and workflows. Career progression metrics. Attrition rates.

This also includes the basics – employee data such as dates of birth, addresses and assignment lengths, through to salary and compensation details, and details of employees’ bonuses.

The performance of your mobility programme can be tracked through advanced reporting and analytics capabilities, ideally reported in real-time. Which means organisations need to develop the supporting infrastructure and systems integration.

But the return on this investment is there for the taking. Collation and analysis of relevant data can drive efficiencies and better decision-making, improved value, enhanced performance and increased return.

Internal collaboration

For many organisations, global mobility remains a discrete function of the HR department. The mobility function’s contribution to organisational initiatives such as succession planning tend to be limited to operational support.

But closer alignment of global mobility to other internal functions such as talent management, tax and finance can both improve internal processes and operations.

For example, a prime area for collaboration is candidate selection, by bringing together expertise from reward, talent and mobility functions.

While technical skills are a priority, the potential scuccess of an overseas post also depends on an individual’s ability to cope with the relocation experience as a whole, not just undertaking the job at hand.

Failure of an assignment due to candidate selection results in the premature return of a demotivated employee, leaving you behind schedule, at cost, with a vacant overseas post to fill.

An efficient approach would ensure all criteria are addressed together at an early stage – dependants, competency, readiness, career progression – to avert issues and ensure the success of the assignment.

Training

Achieving consistency in mobility processes across your organisation will enable you to derive the cost benefits at scale. This includes your approach to cost management, mobility processes, onboarding processes and ongoing compliance processes.

Training of key internal personnel can help to improve knowledge and performance of global mobility. Remember to consider who within your organisation is required to have a global mind-set, both now and in the future, and include them in your training programme. This should take you outside the central HR function, to also include for example line managers, assignees and business travellers.

Individuals will also require training and guidance to support adaptability, so training also needs to extend to relevant local culture.

Focus on efficiency

As non-standard mobility requirements are driving fundamental changes in traditional mobility functions and operations, global mobility programmes will continue to be under pressure to operate with optimal efficiency.