Global Mobility Effectiveness Survey 2013

Talent and business strategy

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Talent management agenda: integrating mobility

Some leading organizations have begun to recognize the potential of mobility as a tool to enhance and develop the talent pool — not simply an easy way to fill a vacancy without any strategic forethought.

It stands to reason then that the mobility team should be either connected or integrated — at least to some degree — with the talent management team, combining their specialist skill sets to improve the retention and development of top talent and potential future leadership.

However, as our survey reveals, many companies are still struggling to link mobility to talent. Many organizations continue to debate whether mobility is purely an operational and administrative function, or whether it has a more strategic role in the management of its talent.

“Increasingly, organizations are valuing and investing in their people through the development of global talent management agendas.” – Bill Leisy, Global Head of Talent & Reward, EY

Furthermore, trying to balance business objectives with the needs of the employee remains an ongoing challenge.

In 2013, 58% of survey respondents reported that they now have global talent management agendas, up from 51% last year. While that trend is positive, it still leaves substantial room for improvement.

An overwhelming majority (83%) of survey respondents believed that mobility had a positive impact on an individual’s career progression.

However, it is difficult to quantify such a claim, and anecdotally there are always cases where the opposite is true.

Furthermore, we see minimal resources dedicated to facilitating repatriation and a return to the home business at the end of assignments, which puts at risk the retention of talent.

One of the ongoing frustrations many mobility teams experience is being asked to facilitate an assignment after the business unit has already made the decision.

Some 56% of companies indicated that their mobility team was involved only in deploying services, playing no role in talent management.

Mobility professionals are more attuned to many mobility-specific issues overlooked by the wider business and can contribute significantly in assessing who is the "right person."

Mobility challenge: assignee and family issues

Family and spouse issues continue to be the biggest challenges that threaten the success of international assignments. Sixty-five percent of the respondents cited personal issues such as a lack of adequate schools, insufficient housing or inadequate work opportunities for a spouse as reasons for failed assignments and early repatriation.

In addition, dual-career families are becoming the norm. Not only are we seeing wives reluctant to put their careers on hold to follow their husbands who are sent on assignment, but increasingly the husband is the spouse trailing behind.

Mobility challenge: diversity and inclusiveness

When asked whether there was an active effort to encourage members of minority groups to go on assignment, only 6% of respondents said yes with another 33% unsure. This sparks an interesting and controversial debate. Do programs designed to “level the playing field” create a richer pool of talent from which to find good assignees, or do they have the opposite effect — potentially singling out those who were selected to fulfill a company goal, rather than on their own merit?

Either way, it seems that in 2013 the majority of organizations do not actively promote the assignment of minorities within their mobility programs.

Gender balance of assignees

Gender balance of assignees

Mobility challenge: measuring ROI

Global organizations are increasingly demanding more data and transparency from their internal teams, looking within to identify how to improve and make sure that resources are directed correctly in order to achieve business goals. Monitoring and assessing ROI is very much in vogue. But how do mobility programs measure ROI, and what does it mean?

And even though the concept is becoming more popular, the fact remains that the vast majority of companies surveyed are not currently measuring ROI in terms of the mobility function: 78% of respondents reported that their mobility function did not measure ROI, and a further 18% were unsure if this was considered.