5 simple ways to measure ROI for mobility programs

These days, Return on Investment (ROI) seems intangible in many industries. People almost invariably resort to “how much money have I saved?” when thinking about ROI, in order to make it more tangible but in many cases that means missing the point of really quantifying return.

If we think about ROI in the context of mobility programs, you save money by sending fewer people on assignment, or heavily reducing the assignment packages. But that doesn’t mean your mobility program is successful – not by a long stretch. In fact, a lower cost base could mean exactly the opposite, so here are some simple recommendations on the types of metrics you need and can introduce quickly to prove your mobility programs are indeed successful.


Showing professional development for assignees on your talent list

Many companies have formal rising star/future leaders programs, but all organisations should at least be aware of – and be able to – track the employees who show great promise and outperform their peers. It’s important that HR and mobility professionals track the professional development of these individuals. More importantly, these individuals should have the opportunity to grow in another role, in another country. Mobility programs should track how many global assignees were on their “talent list”. We recommend that a very high percentage of assignees should be on your talent lists to ensure talent is nurtured – this is an important metric to report back to the business and ensure that not only are you nurturing talent, but you are also selecting the right people for international assignments.



When an individual is promoted, you know you are doing something right in that department. Things are progressing and success is being rewarded in the right way. Nurturing employees to a stage where they receive a promotion can involve a number of things – including an assignment abroad.  We’d recommend tracking how many people received a promotion within six months or a year of returning from assignment. That way, you can report back to your management team that the assignment was worthwhile to ensure progress.

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Reducing failed assignments

No mobility professional wants their assignments to fail, given all the effort that goes into making an assignment happen. That’s why you need to prove your assignments are worthwhile by having them all go ahead successfully. This is why deciding on a low metric for the number of failed assignments – and sticking to it as an ongoing target – proves all the efforts came to fruition. Yes, there will always be those moves that just don’t work out and there may be plenty of mitigating circumstances in each case, but defining ‘failed’ in a tangible way and agreeing on an acceptable metric that you can track with the business can be extremely powerful.


Tracking leavers

One thing you don’t want is an assignee returning from assignment and then leaving the organisation. In an ideal world, you want them to return with renewed vigour for the work you do, and willing to jump back into another role. Otherwise you’ve put all that time and effort into losing the individual. That’s why you should set a low metric for the number of leavers that leave shortly after the assignment is over. For example less than 5% of assignees leaving within 6 or 9 months of returning is a good starting point, and relatively easy to track metric. That provides you with a great starting point to truly analyse the reasons for people leaving and to ask the right questions such as: Was there a role for them when they came back? Was there a career path mapped out? Did they want to return home after the assignment?



Nothing proves an assignee – and an organisation – is happy with an assignment more than extending the time they are going to spend in the new location. Either this is initiated by the assignee, or the organisation approaches the assignee and discusses extending the assignment. But, either way it’s a clear sign that the employee enjoys their new surroundings enough to stay on, and the local business values them enough to request they remain in situ a little longer. This is why we recommend tracking how many assignments are extended, as this is a mutual agreement that (hopefully) indicates satisfaction with that specific assignment on all fronts.