ECA’s research into current sentiment within the IHR industry shows that more companies continue to forecast increases in long-term assignments than decreases. However, the percentage anticipating a decrease is almost as high now as it was after the early 2000 recession, which in turn was the highest it had been for 20 years. If we consider this, together with the fact that compared to a few years ago there is little growth to chase around the world, is mobility at a turning point?

The reality is that globalisation is a fact of life and international mobility is essential to keep up with it. Organisations need to have the right people, in the right place – wherever that might be – to manage their businesses in this decade and beyond.

To meet the multiple and evolving needs of their business and their assignees, many companies relocating staff today for a growing number of reasons to a growing number of locations, have, or are working on having, a suite of policies at their disposal. This enables them to map assignment policies to different assignment objectives. It also gives them additional flexibility to match the various profiles and motivations of their assignees whether they are single, in a partnership, with a family or nearing retirement, looking for international experience or seeking well-paid opportunities. Global mobility teams, aware how career concerns may prevent first choice employees from accepting an assignment, are increasingly looking to coordinate with other areas of the business to devise a joined- up approach to the company’s talent pipeline. And of course, regular policy reviews ensure the approach, whatever it is, remains relevant and efficient.

To help make decisions on policy, organisations need ways of measuring the benefits and establishing where costs can and should be cut without destroying value. This has always been difficult. However, if some of the challenges facing global mobility professionals today are not remarkably different from those of the past, what has changed significantly over time are the assignment management tools and software now available to enable better analysis, overview and control.

The efficiencies, accuracy and consistency such tools bring should also help free up time for global mobility teams so they can take a step back from day-to-day assignment administration to plan for the future. Furthermore, the analytics that can be generated can enable them to be more proactive, presenting information of strategic relevance to the business, thereby raising the profile of IHR. All of us in the industry know that businesses should see the function as more than a standalone operational ‘moving someone’ role. If integrated with other teams in HR, talent management and across the broader business areas they support, IHR will have a real opportunity to add substantial strategic value to their organisation.

This is an abridged version of an article that first appeared on ECA International’s website. To read the full version click here.
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