Talent Mobility Technology: Building the Business Case

Talent management automation is gaining pace with 30% of the respondents to Mercer’s Mobility Organization and Transformation Survey reporting they are starting to use automation to streamline their talent mobility activities or are already using it in a significant way. A further 33% of participants indicate they are not yet using automation but want to. The adoption of automation is boosted by the arrival on the market of a new generation of technology solutions such as Mercer’s Mobility Management Platform that are specifically designed to meet the needs of mobility teams.

Building a strong business case is an important first step to enlist the support of top management when trying to implement a new technology.

 1.    Adapting to the New Realities of Mobility

Years ago, mobility management was dominated by the opposition between traditional expatriates sent on long-term assignments and employees localized in the host destination. Many tools and approaches were designed to support this dichotomy. The current talent mobility landscape is far more complex due to the globalization and diversification of the workforce as well as the multiple forms of mobility: not only long-term assignments but also short-term moves, permanent relocations, locally hired foreigners, commuters, extended business trips, employee-initiated moves, or even moving jobs to people as opposed to moving people to jobs.

Furthermore, some of the future assignees might not be in-house employees: the rise of the expatriate gig worker will require more agility from talent mobility teams.

These evolutions are transforming the purview of mobility teams and forcing them to consider new approaches to compensation and managing careers and processes. Mobility technology needs to reflect these changes.

 2.    The Value of Integration

An integrated approach for the mobility function, with a focus on global operating structure, technology, policies and processes, is an important element in an employer’s effort to better align the mobility function with strategic business priorities.

From a practical perspective, one benefit of an integrated platform is linking mobility management to talent management, resulting in a greater focus on recruitment and retention strategies as well as on identifying skill gaps. Talent management issues constitute some of the biggest barriers to mobility: 24% of companies report difficulties with identifying the right candidate, and 21% report career management problems (source: Mercer’s Worldwide Survey of International Assignment Policies and Practices, 2017)

3.    Mastering Compliance Issues

An integrated mobility platform allows the mobility team both to act as an advisor to the business and to anticipate risks and compliance issues. Compliance and risk management are often split between departments and geographies. Mobility professionals are essential points of contact and facilitators for these issues.

4.    Managing Costs

As many employers (47% of participants in Mercer’s Worldwide Policies and Practices Survey) think current conditions are too costly, traditional cost-cutting approaches, focused on reducing assignees’ allowances and premiums or drastically limiting the number of expatriates, often fail to meet employers’ objectives and could lead to lower assignee retention. Cost management needs to be reframed to integrate not just the cost of assignees’ packages but the overall cost of the mobility function as well as the cost of attrition, failed assignments, and missed opportunities. Capturing all these elements requires an integrated mobility platform.

Ultimately, the challenge of cost management is linked to the value of international assignments – and how to measure it.

5.    Enabling Fact-Based Decisions: Cost Reporting, Metrics, and Analytics

What is the real added value of global mobility for the business? All too often, the answer remains vague, and many assignments are initiated without strong evidence of actual benefit to the company and the employee. The new possibilities offered by the rapid development of artificial intelligence have led to a growing appetite from management for detailed metrics and analytics. Eighty-three percent of respondents to a Mercer survey cited cost and metrics reporting as important or very important skills that will be required by mobility teams (source: Mercer’s How Global Mobility Is Responding to New Dilemmas, August 2018).

Making sure the basics are in place in terms of metrics and cost-tracking is a first step. But a real differentiator for HR professionals will be the use of new technology to develop meaningful analytics and turn the results into actionable suggestions to improve people management.

6.    Delivering a User-Centric Experience To Increase Employee Satisfaction

The results of Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2019 study reveal a growing appetite for greater personalization and the development of employee value propositions to address the needs of different assignee groups. The objective is not to create a new policy for each group or even discard existing-segmented policies but rather to understand how current approaches answer the specific requirements of each individual and how these approaches should be communicated.

New technologies allow companies to push information to their assignees that is both relevant and tailored to their specific needs. Users (assignees and their families, as well as internal stakeholders) can access dynamic host-location information. Employee satisfaction can be monitored before, during, and after assignments through online pulse surveys. Successful integrated communication can position talent mobility as a core component of a company’s employer branding.

Olivier Meier
by Olivier Meier

Principal