Envisioning the Mobility Programs of the Future
In any given company, a global mobility leader’s overall strategic vision is what drives changes, aligns priorities and establishes the mobility team’s focus for the year. It is also lays the groundwork for which initiatives are undertaken and which are placed on the back burner. Ultimately, the leader’s strategic vision sets the tempo for the global mobility team’s day-to-day activities which, in turn, become the driving force behind the program’s future.
Given its importance, we wanted to know what global mobility leaders see when they envision their programs in the future. When they imagine their global mobility programs in three years, what do they look like, how would they describe them? We asked a select group of our valued clients to share both their vision of their future mobility programs with us and also what challenges they face in realizing that vision. Our respondents provided a range of responses, reflecting the diversity of their companies and themselves as leaders. In this article, we will explore in more detail what our respondents shared with us about how they would describe their global mobility programs of the future.
Topping the list is the desire to have mobility more broadly integrated into the company’s organizational structure and strategy. Many companies are looking to move beyond the mobility function acting solely as a logistical benefits delivery function to seeing the function become more of a partner and better integrated with all aspects of the business. An ideal state is one where mobility is much more closely aligned to the company’s strategic business objectives and is contributing to them in a more visible, tangible way. Part of that vision is also a deeper integration with key functional partners such as Talent Management. Supporting talent objectives means partnering with Talent Management to use mobility in a more strategic manner to attract and retain top talent and to develop and fill a pipeline of future leaders. Aligning the global mobility function with talent management, which includes partnering to make company-wide changes to support that integrated relationship, along with becoming more integrated throughout the entire business, is how many global mobility leaders see the way forward.
As they look forward, many global mobility leaders are looking outward and want their programs to be innovative and competitive, high performing and considered best-in-class. Constantly assessing the current state of the marketplace is a hallmark of making sure a company’s program is considered competitive. This can be done through both informal and formal benchmarking where mobility policies and programs are evaluated against what is standard in the mobility industry or against what other companies in their industry vertical offer. Some companies eschew comparison amongst only their industry peers, but may have a select group of companies they wish to benchmark their programs against. In any case, any program gaps that are identified can be carefully considered against the company’s individual business objectives and/or culture to understand if changes are, in fact, desired.
In addition, developing a set of program performance indicators is another way companies are looking to measure their programs’ success. Gathering supplier performance metrics, along with developing a robust set of standards for internal team performance and overall program success will ensure that mobility leaders not only have policies that are innovative and competitive, but that the mobility program overall is considered high performing in meeting overall business objectives.
Successful cross border mobility has a significant impact on both the employer and the employee, and many global mobility leaders see the future of their programs focused on optimizing the assignee experience. These companies understand that mobility and the mobility experience can influence employees’ perceptions of the company overall and its willingness to invest in its employees and their experiences, and they want to ensure that experience is positive. For some, creating a positive customer experience may involve a total review and enhancement of the entire end-to-end assignee experience. Understanding all the touch points in the process and looking for ways to improve them can be a significant undertaking, and will undoubtedly involve gathering a great deal of real-time employee feedback.
Focusing on the customer may also mean global mobility leaders have determined that they need to roll out a high-touch model, one that provides a more customized or personal approach to moving their key employees, or perhaps invest in a VIP approach for certain key employees. At the other end of the spectrum, some companies are focusing on providing their employees with additional options to self-service aspects of their relocation. As younger generations move up in the workforce and become part of the more mobile workforce, their needs from a mobility perspective may look significantly different than users in the past.
Technology Based and Data Driven
Having high performing technology that supplements, and makes more efficient, global mobility processes is something many global mobility leaders desire for their future programs. Robust technology can significantly enhance mobility service delivery in a variety of ways. With improved technology, assignees can access key information in a wide variety of channels and formats, and can often interact with service providers using new communication tools. Mobility teams can not only track and have real-time move updates, but they can also leverage technology to gather and report on critical program components. For example, tracking actual assignment costs is a fundamental way that global mobility leaders can monitor costs and find ways to report spend to the business and look for ways to optimize spend.
Having key aspects of other HR data, like performance reviews, promotion information and employee status integrated with mobility data in a single technology platform would also help global mobility leaders to provide a baseline for developing an enhanced global mobility scorecard. Developing metrics that integrate mobility program data into wider employee performance metrics along with other critical program information offers the opportunity to leaders to better make the case for the value proposition of global mobility.
Like every other aspect of business, mobility leaders must smartly manage costs. Particular industries, such as the Energy industry with many companies operating in the oil and gas sector, and Manufacturing and Engineering companies are under intense cost pressure. However, it’s no longer simply a matter of mobility leaders cutting employee allowances and benefits. In fact, many companies made deep cuts in the years during and following the financial crisis and for many, there may not be much more room to cut services or benefits out of the program without having unintended consequences.
Some companies are exploring more strategic means to optimize their mobility spend, such as actively localizing assignees or utilizing alternatives to long term assignments. Others are looking at controlling exceptions and leveraging supplier costs as a way to minimize cost. Also, in response to business demands global mobility leaders in other companies are looking to provide increased flexibility in their programs, either by introducing flexible core/optional policies or by revamping their mobility policies to be based on increased segmentation. While being cost effective is important, most global mobility leaders also understand the need to parlay the value that global mobility brings to the company overall. Striking the right balance between value and cost will bring their programs solidly into the future.
During the last ten years, companies in most industries have seen dramatic changes in their business environments. The growing need to operate internationally and workforce demographic changes have generated a greater demand for different approaches to employee mobility. Global mobility leaders are looking to implement changes to their programs in order to optimize them and pave the way for a greater strategic contribution in the future. Creating global mobility programs that are more integrated with the business, best-in-class, customer focused, technology and data driven and cost effective are what leaders see for their programs when they look to the future.