“Global mobility”, as the word suggests, means the movement of employees of any firm anywhere around the world, physically. Current times are the time of globalization. Whether big or small, all companies are expanding in all directions so that they can also test international waters and reap its benefits. When the world is becoming more and more connected with each passing day, global mobility is not just a strategy but also a way of survival and thriving for companies. It has its advantages, challenges and benefits, as it has now become a way of living for firms.
What is global mobility?
Global mobility is the ability of any firm’s workforce to work easily while going from one country to another and delivering and thereby succeeding in professional and personal lives. A fairly recent strategy, which all the companies have not completely adopted, but if successfully implemented, can open doors for unlimited opportunities for the firms. For companies to have a global workforce, they can have employees who live permanently in another country, frequently travel to different companies or have short-term and long-term contracts with companies. Asking an employee to move to an international location for a project also comes under global mobility. Moving an employee to a foreign location is a big challenge, but companies have to ensure that the process is smooth flow.
What are some of the factors that the company needs to consider for the preparation of its global mobility strategy?
Shifting employees to a foreign jurisdiction is never an easy task, so there are certain critical factors that the company must look into before venturing into a global mobility strategy. They are:
- Immigration details that include work permits, visas, residence permits and many more
- International HR can help the employees with processes like onboarding, grievances, appraisals, everyday issues
- Relocation matters, which include residence and schooling options for the employee’s kids
- Income tax laws and social security obligations both of the home location and host location, which is of utmost importance
- Employment laws of the host country, which includes contracts, projects, assignment letters
- Payroll matters like payment structure, the currency of payment, tax structure, location of payroll and many more
- Benefits and pension communication between the company and the employee
- Teaching about the culture of the host country so that the employee becomes familiar with the local business practices
What are the advantages of a global mobility strategy for your firm?
Since global mobility is a strategy that is widely adopted by many firms in current times, it surely has a lot of advantages. Some of them are:
- Employee development: By opening the doors of the firm for employees to foreign lands, the firm provides an opportunity to the employees to enhance their skills and experience working in foreign lands, which proves beneficial both for the company and the employee.
- Increased employee engagement and productivity: With most employees feeling that a chance to move abroad is a reward provided to them for their hard work, global mobility increases employee engagement in the company’s matter which directly increases their productivity.
- Enhanced employee retention: Global mobility is seen to directly correlate with the employee retention rates of a firm. As global mobility is an investment that a firm does on its employee, the employee feels that the management is looking into the internal talent pool to fill up the key positions. Thus they see a bright future in the firm.
- Speedy entry into new markets: In today’s competitive landscape, entering into new markets before competition makes a foothold there. The gathering of data and exploiting new opportunities as soon as they arise are critical factors for survival, and global mobility helps in just that.
- Cost-cutting: Proper planning of the global mobility strategy can help the firm save a huge amount of costs from saving on tax compliances worldwide to relocation savings.
- Global talent management: A global mobility strategy helps the firm provide proper exposure to top talents to help them develop their skills to serve the company long-term.
- Valuable data exchange: Obtaining correct data from various sources, analyzing them and then using it to the best of the company’s abilities is one of the most important benefits of a global mobility program.
What are some of the challenges that a firm faces while effectively managing a global mobility strategy?
Although a global mobility strategy is important, it comes with its own set of challenges too. Some of these are:
- Expectation mismatch: Most employees expect to move to high-end countries and expect a lavish lifestyle once they shift there, but none is willing to move to small cities. So, there is a mismatch between the company’s needs and the employee’s expectations.
- Leave management: With employees all over the world, providing leaves according to local holidays and regulations is a tiresome job. This causes mismanagement, and consistency is required to make every employee at ease.
- Flexibility vs work done: Owing to foreign regulations and conditions, mobile workers need flexibility but beware, this flexibility must not ruin their zeal to work and increase the cost of expatriation to the company.
- Diversity: Having a diverse background may not be a good sign everywhere. Not every place is tolerant of people of all kinds of ethnicity, gender, nationality and sexuality. So, this can be a challenge in having a mobile workforce.
- Bureaucracy: Dealing with all the paperwork, privacy laws, security issues, cost overruns and many more.
How can a firm effectively manage global mobility?
Global mobility can be a pain for companies, so some of the ways which can ensure an effective mobility strategy are:
- Strategic choice of employees: Selecting the employee who has assumed leadership roles in the past, the experience and professional maturity of the employee should be the criteria to choose people for mobility programs.
- Clear communication: For a mobility strategy to work, there must be clear communication between the employee and the HR handling the entire process so that they both are on the same page and thus least amount of fall out occurs.
- Flexibility: To make the most out of the international stint of the mobile employee, the company must remain flexible and adapt to certain needs of the employee.
- Streamlining the entire process: A clear plan detailing the important tasks to be done when an employee goes abroad can help save a lot of money and must be planned.
Global mobility is difficult, but it is the need of the hour if the company wants to be on top of its game. Having huge benefits, the mobile workforce is the call of the future, and thus good planning must be done to incorporate it into the firm’s strategy.