Designing global mobility assignments for younger workers

How can HR departments adapt their global mobility strategies to make such assignments more attractive to Gen Y?

A recent PwC report, Talent Mobility: 2020 and Beyond, stated that multinational companies are facing talent shortages and skills gaps because younger people don’t want to work in emerging economies such as India and China.

So how can HR departments adapt their global mobility strategies to make such assignments more attractive to Gen Y and millennials entering the workforce, and resolve the startling mismatch between where companies want to expand and where staff want to be located?

HR magazine asked two industry experts for their views. Today, Carol Stubbings, UK international assignment services leaders, PWC, gives her view.

"For the millennial generation, the prospect of a global assignment as part of their job is an exciting one. More than two-thirds (71%) of this generation want to spend some of their career working abroad. This should be music to employers' ears as they want a flexible workforce that can adapt to changing business needs, but the sticking point is location. Graduates and employers have very different views.

The usual suspects of the US and Australia remain at the top of millennials' wish lists, while the rapidly growing countries where employers often need to plug skills gaps are at the bottom. Only 11% of those questioned for our report said they would accept an assignment in India, and a mere 2% in mainland China - the same proportion as for Iran.

The attraction of these countries for companies far outstrips the attraction for staff. So how do they resolve this mismatch? Generous pay was often used in the past to lure employees to less glamorous locations, but companies are increasingly looking at different forms of motivation to encourage international mobility.

Accentuating the career development prospects of an assignment in a fast-developing country can be a successful tactic. More organisations now see international mobility as a must-have for leadership positions, and people who are prepared to go to developing markets and make a success of those secondments will often be rewarded.

Companies need to become better at selling these opportunities to their employees and highlighting the aspects or outcomes that appeal to them. And even when career development is seen as enough of an incentive, care must be taken before any assignment to ensure all the core things such as accommodation, schooling and healthcare are set up.

Who knows, it might not be too long before China is topping graduates' wish list of locations."