Join the dots between mobility and talent development

Mobility and talent departments should be aligned to boost productivity and retention, a Crown World Mobility director argues

Leaders need a data-led approach to ensure that global mobility works for both staff and the company.

As Crown World Mobility’s Mobility Matters survey uncovered, mobility is wanted and indeed expected in career paths, particularly by younger employees. But employers are not capitalising on this. 

Instead, mobility is frequently used as a tool to retain employees who are threatening to leave companies. It is like a rabbit pulled out of a hat at the last moment. This is because mobility and talent departments within companies are not aligned.  

Global mobility has been evolving over several years and is seen as a service that is detached from talent: the latter can only be called upon when it is needed.

Read more: Global mobility, special report

Today, in many organisations, global mobility roles report into global reward teams, or another part of the business. Ideally, mobility would be a much better fit within the talent development team, as is starting to happen at some companies.

Global mobility and talent development need to start working together as a strategic part of a business’s decision-making processes. We’re not quite there yet, but mobility is striving to be at the front end of succession planning and development. 

It’s still necessary to educate leaders about how mobility can work together with talent development to highlight how relocations can be hugely beneficial when it comes to engaging employees and maximising productivity while they are on assignment.

The trend of flexible working

Many organisations recognise flexible working. But how can international flexibility be offered without extortionate costs and a huge burden of administration to ensure compliance with corporate tax requirements? To address this, HR and legal teams should research into whether a permanent transition can be made to a local contract.  

Securing the right to work is vital. Even if the employee only wishes to work elsewhere temporarily, if they do not have the right to work in the location they choose, then it is a hard ‘no’ from the start. Equally, if there is no employing entity in the location, the response would need be the same. 

Read more: Using global mobility to navigate the skills gap

Organisations can use an employer of record where there is no current employing entity in the location. This opens up the possibility of employing people in different countries without necessarily having an entity – a registered employing office that handles administration such as payroll – in that territory. This would need to form part of a wider education piece to senior leaders within the business. 


Crown World Mobility’s survey also found that more than 80% of respondents report themselves as more productive when they are on assignment, rather than when working in their home country. This suggests a ‘win-win’ situation for the employee, who gets their desired move, and the company, which gets a more productive worker. 

It is helpful to have an idea of how employees were performing before they departed on an international assignment. This can inform progress while they are on the assignment. But monitoring productivity is often a manual process for companies because mobility is not integrated with talent.  

Read more: Global mobility: Strengthening your organisation’s competitive advantage

Let’s unlock the data that shows performance, potential, diversity and so on, and provide evidence of the benefits of global mobility programmes that can help talent and HR teams make more informed decisions.

Companies can add tags to employment records of employees who have been on assignment, repatriated or relocated more permanently to another country. This will give leaders the power to pull reports together on this population of the workforce, so that the full picture of development and return on investment can be seen over longer spans of time.   

Leaders can also implement a formal approval process which requires a justification for the move before it is given the green light. This would allow them to look at the number of people who moved for personal development or for skills-based reasons, which in turn can help leaders evaluate how employees are performing as they progress through their assignment.  

The potential for gaining a greater understanding of employees on assignment is there. It’s just a case of joining the dots.

By Caitlin Pyett, director of account management Asia for Crown World Mobility