How can a mobility strategy drive success in your organisation?

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EY’s discussions with 23 global organisations have revealed that, even though global mobility professionals defined their “global mobility strategy” differently, many touched on similar themes, including: strategic candidate selection and succession planning; well–defined policy and processes for efficient assignment management; cost reduction and management; employee engagement; and the importance of linking mobility with talent management and strategic business objectives.

Although this helps to understand what a strategy might cover, it does not yet clearly define what a global mobility strategy is. When considering a mobility strategy, organisations should ask themselves:

  1. Why do we need mobility? What is its purpose in our organisation?
  2. What are we trying to achieve as an organisation and how will mobility enable this?

A mobility strategy, just like a business strategy is as Michael D. Watkins notes is ‘a set of guiding principles that, when communicated and adopted in the organization, generates a desired pattern of decision making.’ A (mobility) strategy is therefore about how people throughout the organization should make decisions and allocate resources in order accomplish key (mobility) objectives.

Of those companies EY interviewed, more than 50% consider that their global mobility strategy is implemented daily. Where organisations have identified that their strategies are not being implemented or are only partly implemented, barriers raised through discussions include:

  • Lack of support from C–Suite executives/management
  • The small size of the global mobility program or lack of available budget
  • Industry–specific considerations, such as the program often being project based

A step–by–step guide: defining and reviewing your mobility strategy

  • 1. Understand your business strategy
    • Consider conducting stakeholder interviews with organisational leadership to understand how business strategy is being cascaded through all areas of your organisation
    • Hold an open and honest discussion with these leaders about their experience with the mobility program to understand if it meets their needs
    • Through leadership discussions, understand the changes you could make to your mobility strategy to better meet these needs
  • 2. Understand your talent strategy
    • Consider conducting stakeholder interviews with talent leadership and stakeholders to understand how your business strategy is being cascaded through to your talent strategy
    • Discuss how mobility is being used and could be leveraged in future to support your talent strategy, including in: Workforce planning; Leadership development; and Reward and recognition.
  • 3. Align your talent and mobility strategies
    • Share insights gained from leadership discussions, especially where these have linkages with your talent strategy
    • Workshop strategies to create or alter the alignment between mobility and talent strategy to meet business needs
    • Ensure talent team and mobility team members are clear on their responsibilities for strategy implementation
  • 4. Validate mobility strategy and implement
    • Circulate the drafted/revised mobility strategy to leadership and talent stakeholders for validation, considering its impacts on: Policy; Processes; Operating model/roles and responsibilities; Vendor arrangements; Assignees including grandfathering considerations; Program success measurements; and Available program related data and insights
    • Develop implementation plans and execute as required

Keeping your mobility strategy current

Reviewing and refreshing your mobility strategy regularly is also essential to keep pace in a dynamic environment. Many current trends require changes to mobility programs, including: increased regulatory compliance, an ever–changing political landscape and evolving workforce demographics.

For example, the recent changes to the Australian subclass 457 visa program requires organisations to consider their workforce planning strategy locally to ensure that the immigration requirements for roles are considered in advance. If the Australian market is a common location for graduate assignment rotations or developmental assignments, will this still be possible in light of the visa changes? If not, how will the resource needs be met and developmental opportunities be provided in the future?

Further afield, Brexit and Donald Trump’s immigration policies will require similar considerations in other markets. Looking ahead, growing nationalism, growth in emerging markets and change in workforce demographics mean that most mobility programs will need to evolve more quickly in future.

Developing or reviewing a mobility strategy should not just consider economic and political factors and regulatory compliance. It also needs to take into account:

  • Leadership/broader organisational stakeholder views
  • Assignee satisfaction
  • Vendor performance
  • Mobility team performance
  • Mobility cost and return on investment
  • Operating model effectiveness