Stark difference between global mobility tracking ambitions and reality

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The RES Forum's annual report also explored motivations to accept an assignment and the impact of Brexit

A ‘stark difference’ exists between what global mobility teams currently track and what they feel they should be tracking, according to the RES Forum annual global mobility report.

The report found that currently only 2% of firms use data analytics to assess global mobility ROI. It found only 39% of multinational corporations go beyond cost issues to look at the achievement of assignment objectives, just 24% assess employee effectiveness, and only 32% explore retention issues.

‘Undertaking such ROI assessments might allow firms to understand their GM programmes better, may strengthen the case for foreign work, and may lead to insights that can help refine GM approaches for the future,’ the report stated.

It also found that no company currently uses predictive analytics in the areas of performance or overall assignment success prediction.

More encouragingly, it found growing recognition of the need to move towards more advanced analytics. Half (48%) plan to move forward over the next three years on running predictive analytics for overall assignment success, 40% for retention assessments, and 38% for performance predictions.

Additionally, 49% aim to predict future assignment compensation and reward trends, 46% want to pre-empt costs, 44% aim to predict assignment types and movements, and 40% want to draw up lists of identified future global mobility candidates.

“I think we are seeing the results of the changing GM agenda into business partnering and consulting supported by more sophisticated insights informing the business. But there is still a way to go, probably because of a lack of tools, as well as inability to access and utilise the most informative combinations of data from across other areas of HR and the core business,” commented Vicki Marsh, head of operations UK at Equus Software.

The research also identified age as an interesting factor in global mobility. It commented that this is a seriously ‘under-investigated’ area and that while scarcity of willing candidates for an overseas assignment was a much-explored topic, including in last year’s RES Forum annual report, the significance of age had not been looked into before.

The report uncovered that it becomes more difficult with age to identify suitable candidates and to motivate them to accept the opportunity of an assignment.

Only a few companies (15%) find it difficult to identify suitable early- to mid-career stage candidates (defined as Generation Y and Millennials, and covering assignees younger than 35 years old) for expatriate assignments, and none of the respondents found it hard to motivate them. Whereas older employees were more difficult to identify and motivate, with 10% reporting it was very difficult to motivate late-stage career staff (Baby Boomers, so assignees born before 1964) to accept an assignment, 19% difficult and 23% fairly difficult.

The report explored how drivers for accepting a global assignment varied between different generations. It found personal drivers, such as a desire for adventure or to see the world, are significantly more important to early- and mid-careerists (aged 35 years or below). The personal financial impact and other support measures agreed in the expatriation package were among the most important drivers for older age groups. The impact upon the assignee’s career was found to be highly important to early to mid as well as mid-peak (Generation X) careerists.

Brexit was another theme explored. Almost half of the organisations surveyed (48%) felt a reasonably high degree of insecurity in relation to Brexit implications; 40% believe that they will need substantial resources to react to the Brexit challenges, and 24% think that their preparedness to successfully cope with these challenges is low.

“There will be an administrative impact as moves from the EU become more complex as well as some increase in costs, but to be honest I think the biggest issue for us will be with regard to business travellers,” commented Nick Jackson, group head of reward at Lloyd’s Register. “Depending on the way this finally ends up working, it is very possible that we will have to think much harder before simply hopping on a plane to or from Europe.”

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