We recently wrote about the effect of COVID-19 on Global Mobility and explored how we can define our own post-COVID-19 world. It’s clear that a new approach is required. One that’s designed for the new world and suited to the constant changes we’re likely to face over the coming year, and beyond.
Success depends on priorities being consistently aligned with the best interests of the global workforce. This requires suppliers to fully understand their clients’ strategic mobility plans. Then to develop solutions that focus on efficiency and effectiveness, while adapting existing services to meet the clients’ needs.
This way, clients can focus on developing GM programmes, policies and strategies to suit the new world. And they’ll do so under the gaze of a leadership that have never taken more interest in their role. According to research from the RES Forum1, not only has COVID-19 increased Global Mobility’s standing with senior management, the strategic importance of the GM function has never been higher.
With this new focus, Global Mobility is well-placed to set the agenda. Although, this demands a strategy that tallies with the organisation’s wider talent acquisition, management and development plans. All at a time when HR and GM resources are more stretched than ever.
Global Mobility, like many other business functions, wasn’t ready for COVID-19. A lot has been done to tackle the challenges, but we’re not out of the woods yet. It’s not as though life was easy before COVID-19. Global Mobility already faced increased complexity in tax and immigration, while HR budgets were slashed, and diversity and inclusion rightfully took their place on the agenda.
Now, with less resource to call on, the strategic aims of international assignments have changed dramatically. Before COVID-19, the main strategic priorities1 were integration of policies and practices, and technical knowledge transfer. During the crisis, these aims plummeted in importance, replaced with business continuity as the primary objective.
While shuffling the priorities pack, Global Mobility must mitigate against an increased risk of assignment failure. In the old world, positive choices such as personal and career development were the key factors when deciding whether to work abroad1. Now physical safety is the main influence, closely followed by job retention. Such conflicting priorities risk adding pressure to the assignment and increasing the likelihood of failure.
With such major change ahead, GM teams need more expertise, experience and resource. Technology can take some of the strain, but budget constraints hamper necessary investment in many companies. Besides, who has time to implement complex tech solutions, let alone successfully roll them out across the business?
Sharing the burden
Ultimately, these varied and conflicting factors will decide whether businesses meet their mobility objectives. Whether it’s global cohesion, talent development or business continuity, organisations need initiatives that balance priorities against the associated risks.
A return to normal won’t suffice. GM must embrace change; however uncomfortable it might be. Importantly, change can’t come from the client alone. We need to pull together – after all, our industry won’t survive without its clients. Appropriately, suppliers should do some shuffling of their own, pushing value creation towards the top of their priorities. To do so requires insight into client objectives and plans, then for services to be tailored to suit.
This more collaborative approach will force a re-evaluation of service delivery models and move us towards outcome-based solutions. As we reconsider our service offering, we take greater operational responsibility, freeing clients to focus on strategic concerns. With more flexible, adaptable solutions, we help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our clients’ Global Mobility programmes.
Beyond operational support, we are uniquely placed to support clients with planning and strategy. With our expertise and global knowledge, we should be involved at an early stage in the strategic process. This doesn’t necessarily stretch to setting GM objectives (although we have plenty to offer to that conversation), but it certainly covers the how, where and when of international assignments.
Particularly important is how COVID-19 (or any other local or global events) might affect assignments. Our global presence offers insight that our clients don’t always have. Not only can we help them meet their objectives, but we can also help manage or mitigate issues that might otherwise affect assignee resilience. This way the assignment is more likely to go ahead and be completed successfully.
No quick fix
Unfortunately, it’s true – there is no quick fix. Change will come through continuous collaboration and gradual learning. It also relies on strong trust between client and supplier. But none of this means we should wait to start making changes.
Suppliers can already review service distribution models to understand how they can be adapted to meet client requirements. We should also be sharing insight and knowledge, particularly around the impact of COVID-19 in different countries and what effect it has on the employee experience.
Meanwhile, both sides can review and discuss what products and services already offer the flexibility and support clients need during this period. After all, it’s possible that suppliers already have solutions that are suited to the current situation. Solutions that the client may not otherwise consider.
Gerson Relocation’s Managed Lump Sum Solution
Our managed lump sum solution is one product that’s already available and well-suited to tackle the challenges discussed here. Flexible and agile, it’s adaptable to the assignee’s needs, while accommodating a tight budget.
Our experienced relocation managers work closely with the employee to deliver the best possible experience. Whether home-finding, contract negotiation or a comprehensive settling in process, we tailor our service to help get the assignment started in the best possible way.
Added to this is our comprehensive local market insight, gained through a global network. This means the Global Mobility team and the assignee remain up to date with all laws, regulations and restrictions linked with COVID-19.
With a fixed, secure budget and reduced operational demands, the managed lump sum helps reduce the admin burden, without neglecting the organisation’s duty of care obligations. As such, the GM team has more time to focus on strategy, while updating processes and policies around the demands of the new, post-COVID-19 world.