With economic headwinds crashing into an unpredictable labor market, organizations are facing a talent paradox: balancing an imperative to invest in securing their global talent pipeline and capabilities, while also remaining agile enough to adapt through uncertainty. New ways of working — across borders and jurisdictions — have brought greater expectations for workforce flexibility, talent strategy, and technological investment, amid increasingly complex economic, geopolitical and social challenges.
To build sustainable value in this climate, leaders need solutions that mitigate risk and maximize reward; enhancing employee experience regardless of assignment location, orchestrating seamless cross-functional performance to grow cross-border business.
The EY 2023 Mobility Reimagined Survey reveals workforce mobility programs as having powerful strategic and operational importance in the global race for talent. The survey provides insights from more than 1,000 global mobility professionals and employees recently posted on international assignments, across six key sectors. Respondents express recognition of the influence of mobility programs to promote personal and career growth for employees, as well as value growth for organizations. But the findings also reveal employers facing a mismatch between talent demand and what organizations currently offer in their mobility programs. This tension is seen through a lens of capacity — the quantity of people who are allowed to gain the experience — and in the limits of traditional mobility models, which aren’t often built for the flexible and hybrid working arrangements that employees demand.
The present reality of workforce mobility doesn’t always live up to its potential, and can be reimagined.
The survey shows:
- 93% of employees agree an international assignment can be life-changing for themselves and their families.
- 92% of respondents believe that aligning mobility strategy to organizational objectives helps in attracting and retaining top talent, but most respondents don’t strongly agree their organizations are equipped to handle risks.
- 90% of employers believe aligning their mobility strategy to organizational goals drives business growth.
- 78% of employers see a positive return on investment from their mobility program, but perspectives differ across sectors.
At a time when global competition for talent is fierce and burnout is high, there is an opportunity for organizations to transform their mobility programs into strategic levers that build value for employees and the business. Policy segmentation, digitizing operations and flexible hybrid policies can help to create a new balance between talent and business needs in today’s world.
Thriving in an uncertain global talent landscape
The looming possibility of sustained sluggish economic growth has forced organizations to prioritize agility in the face of structural and cyclical challenges. Global GDP growth is expected to be just 2.2% in 2023, according to the OECD, with geopolitical uncertainty and high inflation compounding the challenges of a continually unpredictable labor market. The EY 2022 Work Reimagined study showed that in many sectors employees gained further leverage with employers during the COVID-19 pandemic, when organizations needed to hold on to core talent and capabilities.
The labor outlook is clouded by the persistent geographic and demographic imbalance to the global labor supply. While certain geographies or sectors may see a slowdown, the rise of geopolitical challenges will also begin to increase the demand for mobility to solve for country-specific issues.