Why Global Mobility Management is Vital for Talent Acquisition

By Ruby Sharma - Aug. 8, 2018
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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Ruby Sharma. Her opinions are her own. 

Anyone who works in recruitment truly understands that the war for talent is the single greatest challenge facing any organization today. In fact, we are in the full throws of the worst talent shortage since the recession in 2007 according to research that surveyed 41,700 employers across 42 countries.

Of the nearly 42,000 surveyed, 40% stated that they experienced difficulties filling roles with a lack of available applicants being the number one reason for the shortage.

To assist in winning the war, many organizations have invested heavily in trying to create the very best candidate experience possible. The goal is a seamless, consumer-like experience throughout the talent acquisition phase.

Plus, the demand on talent acquisition teams to solve talent shortages has led to recruiting becoming a truly global activity where recruiters look to source and recruit talent from around the world, who are willing to relocate.

While organizations see the obvious benefits in investing in their ability to attract the best talent from around the globe and provide them with the best candidate experience during the recruitment process, many still don’t see the need or benefits in supporting candidates when relocating and after they are hired. This is such a big mistake, especially when you consider the time, energy and cost of attracting and securing talent in the first place.

Why would you then stop your efforts that with any foresight you would know would lead to high rates of attrition and poor ROI?

The very same candidates who, based on the fantastic candidate experience you gave them, have made the significant decision to not only relocate themselves, but their families too are now left to handle the enormous challenge, burden, and complexity of relocating virtually on their own.

After all the to-do list for anyone relocating is long. We are talking about:

  • Obtaining the proper paperwork and visas;
  • Dealing with immigration;
  • Dealing with tax and compliance issues;
  • Dealing with cultural barriers;
  • Selling their existing home;
  • Finding a new home;
  • International movers;
  • New schools for the kids; and
  • The long list goes on…

All this has to be done while you adjust to a new unfamiliar country with a new language that you and your family might not even speak. Oh and of course, settling into that new job that this was all for!

The simple fact is that organizations who recruit global talent without having a global mobility management plan risk having unprepared and frankly stressed new employees whose productivity will be impacted and who is more than likely a potential flight risk.

What is Global Mobility Management?

Global Mobility Management (GMM) is a new type of business application that manages the complete set of processes and data required to identify, justify, and manage the movement of an existing employee or the hiring of an employee who requires relocation.

For talent acquisition, this means that it is essential that organizations have a people-focused global mobility management strategy that can become a key enabler to a company’s talent strategy.

Ultimately, the ability to efficiently move employees and candidates to new locations is now a critical differentiator in attracting and retaining the very best talent. Done properly, it can have dramatic benefits for employees and companies alike, from the development of career goals and improving skill sets, to supporting new business growth, improving financial performance, enhancing corporate culture, bolstering employee engagement, succession planning, retaining and developing top talent, and increasing diversity.

However, new data suggests that although bosses see great value in leveraging global mobility as part of their talent strategies, over half are aware they are failing to do so effectively. And, the reasons for this ad-hoc approach: a lack of ownership of mobility management among senior executives and paperwork and compliance issues.

Plus, findings of a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey sponsored by Ernst & Young, of 695 executives around global mobility found that despite the tangible benefits of getting it right, global mobility remains a low priority on the list of strategic imperatives.

It is, among most organizations’ business priorities, not a principal area of focus. In fact, many organizations today still do not have a mobility strategy in place.

43% of respondents to the Harvard Business Review survey indicated their companies did not have such a strategy and instead handled mobility needs reactively or on an as-needed basis, which was cited as the primary barrier to global mobility’s success.

However, despite these challenges, the survey results indicated that the tides are turning and that there is an increasing need to move global mobility up the list of talent management priorities and to make mobility decisions more strategically and with a longer-term focus.

Respondents said that over the past two to three years, the need for global mobility has increased (63 percent), and they anticipate even more demand over the next two to three years (72 percent). So, the demand for a more robust global mobility management program grows with it.

The power of global mobility means it is judged to be a resource that many believe should be utilized as part of talent strategy, yet so many businesses are failing to do so. Given the benefits, it is crucial that corporations running global mobility projects use them to their advantage. But how can this be achieved?

Why is global mobility management so important?

Global recruiting doesn’t come cheap. On average, expatriates cost two to three times what they would in an equivalent position back home.

Although an expensive and a time-consuming process, finding the right candidate is worth it. However, what is the point if the candidate and their families find the transition too difficult to handle?

By providing a comprehensive support system that goes beyond the standard financial support such as relocation costs, housing and education, you connect with the candidate in a way that aids better adjustment and ultimately gets the best out of your new employee.

The fact is that without support the employee’s tenure will not be worthwhile from a personal and organisational standpoint. A study conducted nearly two decades ago highlights the impact of mismanaging the relocation of expats; before the words global mobility management and talent acquisition were even invented.

The Harvard Business Review over a ten-year period studied the management of expatriates at about 750 U.S., European and Japanese companies.

Overall, the results of their research were alarming. It found that between 10% and 20% of all US managers sent abroad returned early because of job dissatisfaction or difficulties in adjusting to a foreign country. Of those who stayed for the duration, nearly one-third did not perform up to the expectations of their superiors. And perhaps most problematic, one-fourth of those who completed an assignment left their company, often to join a competitor, within one year after repatriation. That’s a turnover rate double that of managers who did not go abroad.

This highlights the importance of global mobility management especially, as 80% of candidate’s move with a partner or family and it’s often the partner or family’s inability to acclimate to the new environment that causes the assignment to fail.

According to BGRS Global Mobility survey, the top most cited reason for giving up a foreign posting is “family concerns,” including adjustment difficulties, partner career issues, children’s education challenges, quality of life and lack of practical support.

Without doubt, all the evidences highlight the need for a global mobility management strategy that supports an organisation’s talent acquisition strategy and affirms its values.

A solution that provides candidates with the tools needed to arrive in their new destination feeling motivated and excited for what’s next.

An infrastructure that makes it happen successfully and responsibly and that offers the very best candidate experience.

Any global mobility management strategy requires companies to secure company-wide commitment and investment and to not reduce the functions role to be simply about logistics, and therefore, missing the connection between mobility and talent acquisition and management.

Global mobility management has to be seen as a strategic function that has a place in an organisation’s broader talent management goals and isn’t just about logistics, tax, compliance or negotiating a candidate’s accommodation.

Indeed, it is critical that as global recruiting increases that mobility management teams are involved as early in the process of talent acquisition as possible, to help inform the candidate selection.

It is simply too late to bring mobility management teams in after the hire and thankfully there are the organisations that are leading the way.

At American global investment management corporation Blackrock, they have changed the name of their mobility function from ‘global mobility’ to ‘talent mobility’ to bring to the force that “it’s about talent, not logistics.”

It’s certainly a tall order and many companies will be starting at the beginning, but it is vital to have a dedicated team who can manage global mobility and assist candidates with the enormous effort required to relocate.

The team must be proficient on the complexities and ramifications of relocation including tax, employment and immigration law and how these will have impact on candidates.

By doing so candidates can make a truly informed decision and encounter a more positive onboarding experience and any organisation can see a better ROI from their recruiting efforts.

Ruby is a passionate & committed Operations Manager at IMS one world. Her keen analytical skills allow her to assess the business impact of carefully executed and calibrated searches whilst developing long-term relationships with both clients and candidates. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Ruby Sharma

Ruby is a passionate & committed Operations Manager at IMS one world. Her keen analytical skills allow her to assess the business impact of carefully executed and calibrated searches whilst developing long-term relationships with both clients and candidates. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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