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What does 2016 hold for global mobility professionals?

Key focus areas include policy review and implementation, pursuit of operational enhancements, and compliance

Aside from the goal of moving assignees successfully from location A to B, global mobility (GM) teams are required to make difficult decisions around how to focus increasingly scarce resources on other projects and areas that can deliver value. The RES Forum’s recent annual look into the key work priorities that RES member organisations are grappling with during the course of 2016 uncovered some very interesting results. The survey also asked RES members to comment on the three key developments they foresee in the GM field over the next few years.

The survey clearly demonstrated that RES members are primarily focusing their work activities on three main areas in 2016. The review of existing GM policies and implementation of new ones, the pursuit of operational excellence/enhancements to the ‘user experience', and compliance (for example in the areas of commuter assignments and business travellers).

The above activities represent the operational ‘core’ that GM managers tend to focus their daily energies on so it is unsurprising that more than half of surveyed members had one of these objectives as their top work priority in 2016.

Talent management

The next most popular work priorities for 2016 involved talent management projects, activities looking to improve service/drive more value from external mobility providers, and the management of short-term business visitors and commuters. Surprisingly none of the surveyed organisations were looking to prioritise projects in the areas of spousal support and expatriate demographics/diversity; both areas that are currently high on the HR and business agenda.

Interestingly there were no 2016 priorities looking at ways of decreasing expatriate numbers. Projects to enhance the ‘user experience’ included the introduction of HR business partner models, the introduction of regional GM operating models, and the standardisation of the cost estimate process globally.

Key developments

RES Forum member organisations were asked for their views on three key developments likely to occur in the GM field over the next few years. Many of the comments pointed to increasing complexity in terms of new sending and receiving expat locations, differing assignment types, increased cross-border compliance monitoring and data sharing, physical security risks, and technology. Other cited trends included diversity/inclusion, digital nomads, employee profiling and matching to role/location, self-service, increased usage of apps, more flex/job swapping, labour shortages, and greater demographic diversity.

A number of respondents also predicted a shake up in the external GM provider market, with opportunities likely to present themselves to competent providers who can bring new and better ways of doing things to the table. It will be interesting to see if any of these items make it on to the 2017 priorities list in 12 months’ time.

Jose Segade is global mobility manager at Prudential and co-founder of The RES Forum. This article is based on a recent research study the RES Forum conducted into the key work priorities of member organisations for 2016