With technological advances, countries across the world have become more connected.
Businesses are venturing into new markets beyond their home country borders. They are capitalizing on international markets to promote innovation and expand worldwide.
As a result, businesses are sending their in-house talents abroad to make their international endeavors successful.
Relocating employees or global mobility is a horror for more HR professionals. Not many organizations have the appropriate infrastructure and policies to support employee relocation.
In this blog, we’ll walk you through global mobility management, the importance of global mobility, its challenges, benefits, and much more.
Let’s get started!
What is Global Mobility?
Global mobility, also known as international mobility, is relocating employees or moving them physically across the world. It can be referred to as moving a workforce from one country to another for international endeavors.
As most businesses expand, they send their employees to other countries for short-term and long-term assignments. As a result, global mobility has become popular in the recent past. Also, the workforce in organizations has become more diverse.
Why is Global Mobility Important?
Businesses cannot deny the importance of global mobility. Here are a few reasons why global mobility is important.
Global mobility empowers flexibility as employees remote work from different locations.
A 2021 global mobility study by Deloitte found that 51% of organizations consider flexibility, increased engagement, and well-being as the most important advantages of remote work. And international mobility offers the flexibility to work, thus, enhancing the productivity and creativity of the employees.
With the evolving work scenario, we know that virtual or remote work plays an important role in the future. And international mobility helps teams to work cross-border and get accustomed to virtual work.
The main purpose of global mobility here is to integrate virtual work into organizations so they can easily adapt to the hybrid work model.
Enables development of existing talents
Businesses are going beyond their home countries to access wider talent pools. And company leaders are trying their best to retain the top talents in the organizations.
One of the many ways to retain high-performing employees is to provide them ample opportunities to upskill and develop their talents. The more growth opportunities, the more likely employees will stick with the organization.
Global mobility allows employees to progress in their careers. It offers learning opportunities and enables upskilling. The 2021 global mobility study also stated that 41% of executives opined that mobility, upskilling, and reskilling are important actions they take to transform work.
Hence, international mobility is what provides employees with the appropriate learning opportunities. Going to different places in different roles helps them to prevent stagnancy.
Organizations, today, attempt to promote diversity and inclusivity. They ensure taking initiatives to make employees feel comfortable and enhance their feeling of belongingness within the company.
The same 2021 global mobility study by Deloitte also discovered the diversity and international mobility insights. By 2025, millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce, and 59% will be willing to work abroad.
Integrating global mobility into diversity initiatives instills employees’ strong sense of belonging. As a result, they are more productive, and businesses benefit from it. Hence, the more inclusive the leaders are, the more productive, engaged, and innovative the teams.
What is a Global Mobility Strategy?
A global mobility strategy is the plan of a business to transition existing internal employees to travel or work abroad seamlessly. This strategy provides a structure and detailed guidance for employee mobilization to foreign countries.
To create a successful global mobility plan,
- Review key considerations
- Make comprehensive workflows
- Involve all international mobility teams, leaders, and consultants in the planning process.
Top Benefits of Successful Global Mobility
One of the benefits of global mobility is the expansion of employee growth opportunities. With the increase in international mobility, employees are gathering experiences in different roles and responsibilities. Also, they are getting to know different cultures.
Besides employee growth, there are a few other benefits of international mobility.
“Respect for diversity doesn’t just make a happier workplace, it improves productivity and is good for the business”.
– Jeanette Purkis (Author)
With a diverse workforce, businesses can represent themselves globally. Also, a diverse workforce opens up new innovation possibilities and ideas and serves as a great creative advantage.
As people from different cultures and backgrounds come together, they bring different perspectives. They can suggest different solutions to a problem. You can expect a surge of knowledge and experience in diverse teams.
International mobility can not only increase employee knowledge, it can also increase knowledge exchange between different regional offices of a company.
With international mobility, companies can get the latest updates and trends in the international markets.
Further, the business can also access knowledge regarding the international target audiences – their preferences, cultures, values, etc. Hence, such information will help the business develop better products and strategies.
Employee engagement & productivity
With several learning and growth opportunities from international mobility, businesses can enjoy higher employee engagement and productivity.
Employees get personal and professional development opportunities and feel a sense of ‘reward’. They know that their performance and target achievement will lead to career progression. Hence, they are motivated to perform better.
Employees long for the experiences gained from international mobility. As they know that the current employees will fill the existing international positions, they perform better and remain loyal to the organization.
Also, employees see a bright future in these international roles with great development opportunities. Hence, it becomes easier for businesses to retain employees through global mobility.
Major Challenges of Global Mobility
Global mobility challenges have always stressed The HR professionals within organizations. While businesses connect better with international markets through global mobility, the business operations get more complicated.
Here are a few challenges that every employer must consider for a better global mobility management plan.
Tax and compliance
Tax and social security regulations are already complex processes. And when it comes to cross-border compliances, the processes become more complicated.
Tax policies differ by country and region. Hence, HR and payroll professionals work closely with the international mobility management teams to understand and handle the tax compliances.
Here are a few global mobility tax issues.
- Requirement of information reporting
- Payroll and withholding compliance
- Social security and residency issues
- Stock-based compensation deductions
- Arrangement for foreign pension and deferred compensation
- Permanent establishments
- Disposition and acquisition of business interests
Compensation and Benefits
Another global mobility issue that the HR and payroll teams need to look into is employee compensation and benefits.
Employee benefits differ significantly from country to country. Pension plans, retirement benefits, and insurance also greatly vary by country. Moreover, benefits plans and expatriate compensation can be expensive for companies.
However, companies can develop a cost-effective international mobility program with the right consultants and facilitators.
At times, immigration and relocating employees with their families become quite challenging. Immigration policies are different in different countries. Also, the relocation logistics can be complicated. A few common challenges include:
- Visa and work permits
- Transporting household goods
- Relocation travel assistance
- Airport transfers and global banking facilities
- Language and cross-cultural training
- Search housing and schools for dependents
- Manage expenses like extension filings and reconciling forms
Addressing these global mobility issues is a full-time job. Ensure that your organization has a strong workforce to handle the workload. Also, consider outsourcing services to make the process easier and hassle-free.
How to Develop an Effective Global Mobility Program?
Now that you know how important global mobility is for your organization, here’s a 5-step process to building an effective global mobility program.
Step 1: Identify the ‘why’ of your global mobility program
Before anything else, it is important to discover why you want to develop the global mobility process. Find out the answers to the following questions:
- What is the purpose of the global mobility program?
- What are the key objectives of the program?
- What issues are you trying to address?
- What benefits can you derive from the global mobility program for the employees and the organization?
Figuring out the reason behind international mobility will help you determine the ‘how’ of the process. You can then allocate time, employees, and other resources more efficiently.
Step 2: Structure the program
Structuring the global mobility program means laying the outline. After you have determined the ‘why’ of the program, start designing its outline. Consider these key aspects:
- Global mobility policies
- Regions or target markets for expansion
- Talent pool to achieve expansion goals
- Healthcare, compensation, and employee benefits
- Tax compliance
- Immigration support (visa, relocation, etc.)
- Relocation logistics
- Professional development opportunities
- Financial assistance for relocation
- Family support like schools, housing, etc.
- Assistance with communication needs, relocation incentives
- Pricing and budget
- Future work model of the organization
Add on to this list as you discuss the plan with stakeholders like global mobility management, HR, leadership teams, etc. Get feedback from the involved departments and make necessary adjustments.
Step 3: Assemble the global mobility team
Here you must find out the ‘who’ of the program. Examine the goals and the list of considerations in the program outline. Then, identify your company employees who have expertise in their respective jobs.
The first step to identifying the team is communicating the roles and responsibilities. Then, evaluate the employee needs and ask them how the company can provide support.
For instance, if you are planning an expansion to 5 different international markets, ask the HR team if they have enough resources.
Be open to communication, collect feedback, and be flexible to adjust any needs or make changes to the program structure.
Step 4: Incorporate employee well-being in the program design
Global mobility programs are no longer add-ons for organizations. Most businesses today incorporate proper policies and employee well-being in the program design, considering future work scenarios.
Relocating to a different country can be stressful for employees and their families. Hence, if an employee supports the organization by taking up the opportunity, the company must also take care of the employee.
Thus, companies must ensure that they prioritize employee well-being. They must ensure a smooth relocation experience for the employee and their families.
Step 5: Take into account support structures
Global mobility brings in a lot of changes for the employee – new climate, new environment, offices, responsibilities, etc. Hence, consider the support an organization must provide.
Empathize with the level of change employees will face from the relocation. Take into account the support systems you will set up to assist the employees. For instance, financial assistance, baking facilities, housing, schools for dependents, coaching for mental fitness, and coping with change.
The stronger the support systems, the better-equipped the employees to overcome the challenges of global mobility. They will be empowered to thrive and settle down well.
Moreover, you can also consider outsourcing support systems to ensure a seamless experience for the employees and better international mobility management.
Global Mobility Strategy Development Team
To ensure a successful global mobility program, involve all the potential stakeholders. Here’s a list of the people who must be a part of the global mobility management program.
Regarding employee-related aspects, your HR team will be an essential part of a global mobility program. They will be responsible for employee well-being, experience productivity, and performance.
The HR team will coordinate with the global mobility management team and ensure a hassle-free implementation. Also, the HR team will look into the insights from the mobility program and develop employee development and retention strategies.
Aligning the talent strategy with the international mobility program is one of the most challenging aspects of global mobility. Hence, you need an active HR team to mitigate this issue from the beginning of the process.
Global mobility consultants
The most vital member of your planning committee would be a global mobility consultant – an all-in-one source for global mobility-related information. The consultant can help you with;
- Suggestions and advice on local business regulations
- Set policy benchmarks
- Create global deployment processes
- Provide support and advice on support structures like relocation logistics
- Getting connected to embassies or consulates
Your global mobility program is aligned with your business vision and goals. When creating the strategy, the executives or thought leaders can help you find the purpose of the strategy, set goals, and plan to scale in the next few years. Framing the big-picture insights will require executives in the planning process.
The legal teams play a significant role in global mobility, and their presence is essential throughout the process. The legal consultants can offer general advice on home taxes to the employees. They can also coordinate with immigration experts and foreign tax consultants to make legal compliances easier for employees and the organization.
The administrative team will help you to deploy the global mobility process. The administrative leaders can discuss the management of the day-to-day tasks, global mobility requirements, and paperwork.
Key Considerations in the Global Mobility Process
With the involvement of all potential stakeholders, you can create a global mobility management program. Then, as you develop the framework for deployment, ensure to consider the following subjects:
Deploying employees overseas demands considering the legal requirements both in the home and host country.
Regardless of the assignment duration, when deploying staff in foreign countries, companies must consider the tax and legal obligations – employment laws, permanent establishment policies, income taxes, insurances, etc.
Overall, clarify any employee’s legal status in a foreign country and provide the support needed.
Convincing top talents to move to a foreign location will require a proper compensation structure. The deploying employees must know what to expect in the new country and job role.
A few factors that you must consider in a compensation structure are:
- Relocation packages (travel compensation, housing fees, house sale support, etc.)
- Home country salaries
- Host country schooling, housing costs, and cost of living
- Potential increments and promotions related to the foreign roles
As stated, the immigration laws and policies differ by country. Consult the international mobility management team and list the documents and permits required. Create a pamphlet detailing the entire process of immigration for the employees.
Discuss the immigration fees, select staff to handle the procedure, and ensure to appoint a host country employee-sponsor who can take care of all the applications and permits.
Employee adjustment and retention
The employees relocating abroad must be well-adapted to the environment. Companies must look after their well-being, or they may lose employees.
Employees may give up on the opportunity and even resign if the moving process is hectic and unorganized. Hence, employers must offer a seamless experience to the moving employees and their families.
Also, the employees must receive proper training to adjust to the cultural changes so that they can adapt to;
- New responsibilities in the abroad offices
- Cultural basics like cuisine, language, climate, etc.
- Business culture
Tax requirements and employment law
According to employment compliance, one must consider the contractual aspects of global mobility.
When deploying employees, you must look into the agreements that can facilitate the process. Considering a tripartite agreement involving the employee, the parent company, and the subsidiary company/ PEO may be helpful here.
Coming to the tax requirements, global mobility management teams can help to know about the tax needs. A global mobility consultant would be the best person to advise on social security and income tax regulations.
Besides, it is also crucial to consider the global mobility insurance policies and to operate the global mobility payroll.
Task assignment and policies
When deploying employees to foreign locations, they will have different assignments. Hence, adjusting the global mobility policies to all the assignment types is crucial.
For instance, you may have 15 different assignees and 3 types of mobility policies to cover the assignments. Here, ensure that the policies fit all assignment types.
For growth-focused businesses, global mobility is crucial. Hence, employers must plan the entire global mobility management process if they consider sending employees abroad.
Further, businesses must consider key factors like legal compliance, tax requirements, relocation, immigration, and other procedural challenges to ensure a smooth transition for employees.
Since the global markets are continuously evolving, employers should consider outsourcing services to PEOs. Partnering with platforms like Multiplier can make the global mobility process hassle-free.
Multiplier’s PEO/EOR solution can take care of the entire employee payroll, benefits, compensation, taxes, and legal compliances. They can make multi-currency payments and help businesses enter international markets without building subsidiaries.
To know more about Multiplier’s service, book a consultation now.