HRO TODAY Oct 2013

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Relocation business and should be incorporated into the assignment process from the outset," she says. "The company will make a significant financial investment and should be focused on retaining international assignees." Not all companies take this approach, says WPP's McGarry. "Some companies have their employees go on assignment as part of succession planning. For others, it has no role in choosing one employee for an assignment over any other employee." Deloitte's 2012 survey Strategic Moves identified a gap between the potential strategic value of global mobility programs and the way organizations are using them in practise. On the one hand, respondents almost unanimously agreed that mobility is a key tool in addressing top strategic business issues including emerging geographical markets, increasing globalization, and greater competition. At the same time, however, a minority said that their organization currently uses mobility to address those issues in practice. Exline observes that more employers are trying to improve the value they gain from international assignments by better integration of global mobility and other areas of talent management. "We are seeing customers wanting global workforce solutions that include not only mobility as part of their talent supply chain but RPO, MSP, workforce planning etc. It is taking a look through this broader lens that will ensure companies are successful and deploy strategies to attract and manage an effective workforce." Many global mobility services providers are trying to address the needs of clients who have growing assignee populations in more diverse locations by partnering with local and regional specialists to supplement their in-house capabilities. "There has been a trend of companies offering different mobility services merging or partnering with a focus towards one-stop shopping and offering a variety of services as an integrated solution or an ad hoc basis. I can see this trend continuing over the next couple of years," says Exline. Brookfield's Gorski expects to see "consolidation of relocation players— specifically global providers acquiring smaller, local resources with specialised market knowledge." Gorski also thinks that suppliers will play an increasing role in helping to reduce assignment costs. "As the need for cost containment strategies is not lessening in importance, we expect companies to continue to look for cost effective solutions from their suppliers." He adds that in his view, suppliers will be presented with greater opportunities to engage with their client companies at a more strategic level and to provide data and consultation to global mobility and human resources leadership as well as to other senior corporate leaders. "In response, we expect emergence of product offerings beyond logistical support including cost tracking/ROI calculators, enhanced business intelligence tools, and advisory services." McGarry suggests clients preparing carefully before approaching services providers. "Before you contact any suppliers, first you need to know exactly what you want. You also need to have some kind of policy in place that they can work from, and, more importantly you can work from in the procurement of these providers." He adds that although many providers have policy consulting teams, it is often best for clients to carry out benchmarking research themselves first if policy is needed, if need be using an external specialist consultant. Looking Ahead Over the next few years, movement of talent between global locations is likely to increase, with new patterns of international mobility becoming increasingly common. On the one hand, companies will look for the most cost effective ways of achieving skills transfer to ensure that they have the right talent in the right location, for example through shorter project-based assignments. At the same time, there will be a higher number of people who are interested in longer term global mobility, in many cases to enhance their career advancement prospects. "People will move around more and more [i.e. from the U.K., to China, to Tokyo, to New York] instead of U.K. to China for three years and then come home, and the time people spend in each location will begin to increase," says McGarry. As more individuals actively seek global mobility, companies will be able to offer different kinds of incentives than traditional expatriate packages—McGarry suggests there could be a rise in 'local plus' salary and benefits. And, more companies will integrate international assignments into their talent development and succession planning to ensure that the right skills are in place not only to meet immediate business needs but also their future leadership requirements. OCTOBER 2013 | [85]

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