Mobility Strategies Are Driving Key Talent Management Trends

This article originally appeared on Workforce Magazine:

Fueled by relative economic strength around the world, all signs point to a prolonged talent shortage that will plague global businesses for the coming decade.

As companies of all sizes grapple with how to attract and retain outstanding employees, more organizations are recruiting internationally and expanding opportunities for current employees to pursue a variety of internal roles.

This is good news for job seekers and employees who are looking to grow their careers and seek out fulfilling work/life experiences. But it remains a challenge for employers, many of which are struggling to get up to speed with this “new normal” where a strong mobility program — both internal and external — is now a critical business strategy, not just for expanding to new markets but for addressing both acute and long-term people resourcing challenges.

Mobility, also known as global mobility or talent mobility, refers to the movement of employees across borders for business purposes. This could be employees relocating globally or domestically, taking a temporary assignment outside their home office, or even business travel or cross country or state commuting. Mobility, regardless of its form, requires modern tools and support to tackle everything from tax and immigration complexities to being paid in multiple locations.

Mobility will become a key differentiator in the war for talent, enabling businesses that get it right to overcome staffing challenges. Here are just a few examples of why organizations should prioritize mobility in the coming year:

  • To retain talent. More than 20 percent of employees say they’ve quit a job after being denied a relocation opportunity, and worse yet, 40 percent say they aren’t even aware of mobility offerings within their company. With global talent shortages, this should be terrifying news! Companies that offer internal mobility must do a better job of communicating and internally publicizing relocation opportunities when these roles become available. Make it clear that if you have the skillset, we’ll get you there through a seamless process that emphasizes employee satisfaction, lifestyle and family needs.
  • To enable fluid career paths. In previous generations, employees joined an organization and stayed there for their entire career, following a relatively predictable career path from junior level to senior management. But millennials and others are looking for faster progression, which includes lateral moves. When the average tenure at even tech giants like Google is two years or less, employees’ careers are now less tied to the organization and more tied to their personal brand and personal growth. Mobility enables this career fluidity by giving people an opportunity to grow in ways that suit their needs. In fact, a recent study found that more than 70 percent of employees saw mobility as a career growth opportunity, even without a raise or promotion.
  • To close the gender gap. Diversity and inclusion have become chief priorities, especially when it comes to leveling the gender playing field. Despite the push toward gender equality in the C-suite and boardroom, women still have less opportunity in mobility, despite its key role in leadership growth. The bottom line: if you want more women in senior leadership, you must have gender equality in your mobility population. This can also be solved with better communication and promotion of opportunities. By showcasing women in successful expat roles to demonstrate its transformational benefits for personal and professional growth, companies can entice more women to seek out mobility-based career and leadership opportunities. When they see that it works, and that your company will support them every step of the way, it’s easier to see themselves as eligible candidates.
  • To utilize data to drive efficiency. Traditional recruiting and HR management systems data have become invaluable when it comes to recruiting and talent optimization. But, as mobility begins to play a larger role in shaping a talent management strategy, it needs to be tied into the fold. The holy grail for success: the ability to identify and predict for whom mobility will be successful. By measuring factors such as how long the assignment lasted, what did the individual’s career path look like after, how long did they stay with the company, etc. we can use mobility data to optimize the process, move more people cost-effectively, foster greater success for the individual and ensure the company gets the most bang for its buck.

The potential is there for mobility to influence talent management in the coming years. While many areas of talent management have gone through a digital transformation, including recruiting, performance management, learning management and recognition and rewards, mobility has been somewhat left behind in most organizations. As a result, employees are often faced with highly fragmented experiences, forced to deal with five or six vendor systems and plagued with redundant data entry.

Adopting robust global mobility management solutions will transform the relocation process, giving companies the comprehensive tools they need to operate efficient, successful and growth-oriented programs, while also making relocation an exciting, exhilarating and life-changing experience for employees.