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The New Era for Global Mobility Begins Now


A Recap of Insights from Graebel’s In-Person Industry Event

The light at the end of the COVID tunnel was bright in Clearwater, Florida at Graebel’s insideMOBILITY Getaway in-person event.

It was an opportune time and a stimulating venue for Talent Mobility leaders from across a broad spectrum of industries to compare notes and share stories about experiences and lessons learned in the last 18 months. Even better, it was energizing to explore how the new insights related to the employee journey and Mobility strategy that emerged recently will continue to evolve.

We’ve captured some high-level takeaways from the engaging discussions on the event’s three core topics.


The Intersection of Talent and Mobility

Given that the Talent and Mobility functions in an organization are both people-focused, these two groups ideally should coordinate in key areas. Some organizations excel at this; others have room to grow. And in many cases, progress toward this collaboration was disrupted due to more pressing corporate matters.

Here’s what we heard:

  • With top-quality labor in short supply, assignments are increasingly used as recruitment/retention inducements. They can be either business- or employee-driven, but mobility policies don’t always differentiate between the two.
  • Local/regional skill shortage also means that Talent may attempt to hire from locations where immigration is temporarily restricted or COVID travel restrictions are in place.
  • Similarly, a work permit to the U.S. might be state-specific, but Talent unknowingly may approve an interstate change in work location for an employee. In these kinds of cases, Mobility is told to “make it happen,” but the team feels as if they are “set up to fail.”  In reality, it is the employee’s experience that falls short of expectations, as one participant noted.
  • During the pandemic and beyond, employees embraced work-from-anywhere opportunities, moving out of state and even out of the country with or without approval. This resulted in legal and tax ramifications for them and their employer.

All of this points out that Mobility needs a seat at the table when recruiting and other talent policies are established. The burden to establish these channels continues to fall on Mobility.


Defining the Future Employee Experience

Companies are very aware they must deliver exceptional experiences for their mobile employees to ensure successful assignments and retain their best people. There was broad consensus that exceptional mobile assignments are a function of communication.

As one participant put it, “An employee’s mobility experience starts the day the conversation occurs about the potential opportunity. It’s too late to elevate the employee experience once the transfer steps begin.”

The following communication strategies were considered the most crucial:

  • Many participants mentioned the value of assigning a mobile employee and their family with a single point of contact within their relocation management company (RMC) and including partners in the planning and ongoing conversations.
  • Verbal/visual. Emails and texts are okay for quick Q&As. But “face to face” virtual meetings are important at other times to solidify the relationship and allow the consultant to read body language and respond to non-verbal cues.
  • Setting expectations. Situations of over-committing and over-promising often arise when recruiters or talent management staff members speak out of turn. There needs to be one “voice of truth,” and that must be a Mobility team member who understands the Mobility program and the benefits an employee is eligible for.
  • Journey map. One of the most important conversations with the mobile employee and their partner is a careful description of the process and the full picture of the upcoming mobility journey. This conversation needs to happen more than once – and bonus points if it's done more than verbally – documented, inclusive journey maps are trending.
  • The communication from that single point of contact must include proactive and passive discovery, including frequently asking about concerns or uncertainties and putting out a lot of open-ended questions.



The Evolution of Your Mobility Strategy

A strategic Mobility program provides measurable value to stakeholders across the organization, to the point that Mobility is a reliable, active contributor at the highest levels. We’ve been promoting this evolution in the Mobility profession for many years. It was interesting to hear how the challenges of 2020 and 2021 drove progress in that area for some organizations and slowed the progress in others.

Overall, though, the participants reported on some timely initiatives in their organizations.

  • In response to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion considerations, companies are re-evaluating how their tiered benefit systems might have disparate impacts on certain groups – for example their provisions for renters vis à vis homeowners.
  • The sheer volume of hiring at entry- and lower-level positions is pushing some companies to adopt lump sum arrangements for benefits otherwise requiring an expense report and receipts, such as house hunting and final move.
  • The tremendous amount of exceptions companies confronted during the past 18 months is leading some of them to reconsider benefit levels since certain exceptions have now become expected norms.
  • Employers are more aware than ever that employee mental health is a significant predictor of a successful mobile assignment – and failed assignments are expensive. They’re adjusting their approach to duty of care to incorporate robust employee assistance programs (EAPs) and other support mechanisms as a result.

The experiences of the last 18 months have convinced business leaders to re-evaluate and enhance many strategic elements of their operations, making 2021 an ideal time to elevate the strategic focus and organizational impact of their Mobility program.

See you next time!

If you have a professional Mobility role in your company, we hope you’ll join your peers at the next insideMOBILITY event to:

  • Meet safely face-to-face
  • Share the latest trends, best practices and insights
  • Connect to build lasting professional relationships

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