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Mobility Aligns with Company Goals to Earn Its Seat at the Table

As the HR and mobility landscape continues to evolve, organizations are realizing that a mobility program’s impact is more than a transactional function related to moving employees and teams. When strategically designed, talent mobility programs – and the professionals managing them – play an integral part in setting and achieving mobility objectives that contribute to organizational goals and success. 

Thanks to their specialized knowledge and experience related to global conditions, employer duty of care, and program performance, mobility managers are earning a “seat at the table.” They’re strategically involved in critical discussions with internal stakeholders at the highest levels regarding issues as fundamental as business continuity, business growth, talent management, compliance, employee safety and more. They also offer a wealth of data-driven insights gathered from the mobility population that can support company initiatives. 


Claiming a Seat at the Table 

I’m asked occasionally, what does it mean to “have a seat at the table?” In short, it’s the opportunity to be widely heard across the organization in order to make a positive impact.  

In some cases, the seat is literal – regular participation in upper- or executive-level meetings, for example. In other situations, the seat is more figurative – to a point where mobility managers feel empowered to approach upper-level stakeholders with concerns or opinions. Often times, strong partnerships are forged and senior stakeholders have the confidence to reach out to mobility for their perspective and solutions. Either way, organizations that have welcomed mobility to the table are benefitting from that decision – in areas ranging from increased talent retention and business agility to cost savings and an increased return on mobility.  

Traditional Strategic Mobility Services  

Having mobility teams strategically partner with internal stakeholders to support company goals isn’t new; the practice has been steadily evolving in the most successful mobility programs for more than a decade. Graebel specialists in this area have promoted the concept for many years on behalf of our clients.  

To help give our clients additional bandwidth to weigh in on the strategic decisions being made for their organization, we offer to take on many of the transactional elements inherent in their mobility programs. This kind of delegation to a relocation management company (RMC) is more important than ever as mobility managers are called on to support traditional organizational strategic functions like: 

  • Talent acquisition 

  • Training and orientation 

  • Career development 

  • Global and domestic expansion/contraction 

  • Compliance support 

  • Brand enhancement 

  • Budgeting 

Thanks to a highly competitive market, each of these functions is assuming an even higher level of importance and requiring more immediate attention. 


Transforming New Challenges into Additional Mobility Services 

Mobility teams have been addressing the above issues, often while also accounting for global health issues, geo-political crises, and the resulting challenges associated with moving people and their belongings efficiently and safely. These and other recent organizational challenges have emerged in areas where mobility teams have unique perspectives and experience.  

This means mobility’s seat at the table can be even more impactful, as these teams step up to take on additional challenges and provide their organizations additional insight, supporting company goals such as:  

  • Enhancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs – Mobility has had a unique vantage point regarding how a DEI program can enhance organizational productivity, innovation and employee engagement, because it functions at the intersection of different cultures and global experiences. As a result, mobility professionals are uniquely positioned to understand diverse individuals, their needs, and their realities – and provide input their organizations need regarding talent acquisition, retention and management.   

  • Refining healthcare and related benefit offerings – The pandemic exposed gaps in healthcare-and benefit-related offerings for mobile employees. Mobility teams responded by gathering, analyzing and sharing knowledge they gained from the crisis to provide better insights about their employees’ needs to their organization. This strategic thinking is particularly impactful under challenging circumstances in order to strengthen policies and benefits.  

  • Designing and implementing remote working policies – Organizations are reviewing options and setting policies related to remote work arrangements and workplace management. Mobility has already addressed the implications of many of the related issues and can contribute informed insights in areas such as remote employee location tracking, regional/destination norms and coordinating with external service providers (e.g. visa and immigration, tax, security and insurance).  

  • Emergency preparedness planning during crisis events – Organizations can be upended by natural disasters, instances of geo-political upheaval and other unexpected events. Mobility professionals have stepped up in some of the most complex scenarios imaginable. This gives them unique insights into program and policy changes that can be made now – to be prepared for unexpected events that will likely happen in the future. 

Holding Hard-Earned Ground: Preserving Mobility's Strategic Role

It seems hard to imagine after the past two years that all corners of our world will ever be as easily accessible as they were, or that global commerce will ever return to the “normal,” but more desirable levels of complication we were accustomed to before 2019. But many borders are reopening. Pandemic-related healthcare mandates are expiring in some areas, but not all. Supply chains are still strained and will take a while to recover. If this leads to a new version of global business normalcy, with no lessons learned, mobility professionals may need to work hard to avoid once again being relegated to a more transactional focus and losing their hard-earned seat at the table.   

Regardless of what the future holds, mobility managers can take matters into their own hands and remain a strategic voice in their organizations. And as they do, they can rely on their RMC to have their backs and continue to provide exceptional care to their mobile employees. Here are some additional proactive ways mobility can continue to contribute to the conversation,  in support of strategic goals  and to maintain their seat at the table: 

  • Keeping it relevant – Understanding the evolving needs of mobile employees, especially during periods of instability and unrest 

  • Business acumen – Knowing who the right stakeholders are, what the needs of the business are and what the data about employees is telling them 

  • Regional planning – Identifying barriers or opportunities for the organization’s initiatives in regions and countries and planning solutions 

  • Contingency planning – Developing playbooks for future localized, regional or global health crises, geopolitical conflicts or natural disasters 

  • ESG engagement – Supporting the organization’s environmental, social and governance priorities by raising global issues internally, based on feedback from mobile employees

  • Benchmarking activities – Identifying competitor approaches to mobility to ensure competitiveness regarding talent acquisition and a positive employee relocation experience 

  • Localized, on-the-ground support plans – Leveraging the RMC’s global reach to provide localized support on a global scale 

  • Scalability readiness – Offering up their RMC’s mobility insights and resources to enable global growth and accommodate high volumes of talent mobility activity in varying, fluctuating geographic locations  

  • Identifying inefficiencies – Leveraging mobility’s expertise to maximize spend, timeline efficiencies, vendor management and policy administration 


A Clear Path Forward

The innovation, creativity and responsiveness of talent mobility professionals over the past two years didn’t go unnoticed. Mobility teams continue to respond magnificently to unprecedented challenges. Their experiences and lessons learned can be leveraged to justify and expand mobility’s seat at the table. It’s clearer than ever that talent mobility teams have invaluable lessons to share, perspectives to offer and defined roles to play in contributing to the overall success of the business. With the right RMC at their side to provide both logistical support and strategic guidance, a mobility team’s bigger and better seat at the table is theirs for the taking.  

Contact us to find out how we can help you define, develop and deliver forward-thinking mobility strategies and a roadmap to reach your business goals. 

About the Author

Michelle Mara is Vice President of Mobility Strategy. A native of Minnesota, Michelle has been in the real estate and relocation industry for over 25 years. Prior to working in the relocation industry, she had a successful career in mortgage banking working in the loan origination and servicing areas of the industry. Michelle spent several years at Prudential Relocation as an onsite consultant and manager with Fortune 500 clients such as 3M and St. Paul Travelers before joining SIRVA Relocation as director of client services, managing one of their largest global accounts. She joined Graebel in 2006 and implemented and managed Graebel’s two largest accounts. She has also managed a number of departments and offices within Graebel. Michelle currently leads Graebel's mobility strategy team, which helps clients develop competitive policies and analyze their programs for efficiencies and other improvements. Michelle has received numerous awards such as the Chairman Circle Award and 100 percent client and team transferee satisfaction scores. She holds the Worldwide ERC® Certified Relocation Professional (CRP®) and Global Mobility Specialist (GMS-T®) designations. In addition, Michelle holds a Minnesota real estate license and GRI certificate.

Profile Photo of Michelle Mara