For many, ‘Deloitte’ and ‘Global’ are synonymous. Stuart Ferguson talks to us about they key areas where attitudes and behaviours require change in order to drive mobility across a global organisation.

Despite the rise in conversation on immigration and tax reform in the political world, international business continues to drive global mobility in all forms. While businesses are keen to overcome any regulatory barriers, they also want to drive overall costs down and make mobility happen seamlessly and quickly, whilst employees want a fulfilling assignment experience. These are the attitudes and behaviours that define the culture within Global Mobility, and ultimately what Global Mobility professionals should consider when designing and implementing policies and programmes.

For HR and Global Mobility professionals there are two particular groups whose attitudes and behaviours matter most: business leadership and employees. Employees can be categorised as prospective assignees, assignees and repatriates. HR and Global Mobility professionals play a key role in driving culture and change, and therefore should consider the following areas of discussion in their programmes.

For many ‘Deloitte’ and ‘Global’ are synonymous; with an internationally diverse workforce, a network of member firms, providing services to some of the world’s largest clients. Therefore the expectations of our people and our clients that feed attitudes begins with the brand in the external market. For Deloitte UK, the focus is on providing our people with constant opportunity and growth and, although career development should be approached on an individual basis, the uniqueness of living and working in a different country provides clear opportunities to develop and grow capabilities. International experience can help employees build new skills, grow relationships with new colleagues and develop technical knowledge beyond their home geography. Ultimately, it also helps foster a global mind-set.

In order to drive more mobility, more effectively, across an organisation, there are a number of areas where attitudes and behaviours require change.

A Mobility Culture Requires Visible Support of Leadership

As with all aspects of corporate culture, tone is set by the top; business leadership needs to show clear support for mobility and to be equally clear that mobility brings numerous benefits both the firm and the employee. Their words and actions will determine the way in which global mobility is perceived by employees.

Perceptions of Cost and ROI Impact Attitudes

Global Mobility can be seen as expensive and cost prohibitive. However, it is important to consider the alternatives (eg. cost of agency, direct sourcing, referrals) and the return on these investments.

Access to data is critical to changing attitudes. If Global Mobility professionals have access to data and reporting they will be able to use this to support discussions with leadership and other key stakeholders within the business. For example, having oversight of actual costs versus what is budgeted, and ROI data points i.e. increased engagement, performance, progression and retention. Working closely with Finance and MI colleagues can help to achieve this.

Marketing and Fair Access

A key part of driving a mobility culture is communications to targeted groups, if not to the whole organisation. Promoting topics like the mobility value proposition, leadership support for mobility, assignee success stories, hot job and general vacancies, can all have a great impact. Any communications should be aligned and factored into broader HR communications planning and talent agenda. Equally, it is important that the gap between expectations and reality is not too large, and that unsuccessful applicants and those expressing an interest are continuously engaged.

Employees also need to believe that global mobility opportunities are open to all and are not solely open to those that are ‘tapped on the shoulder’ and presented with the opportunity. The whole organisation needs to be aware of the opportunities that exist (and the benefits of such opportunities), with the resultant selection process then following a fair and transparent process. This also allows HR and Global Mobility to create greater talent pools for those wanting mobility for their career development and to factor this into broader career and succession planning.

Assignee Experience

Global Mobility needs employees to have a remarkable experience, as both assignees and repatriates are very powerful advocates for the programme. The change and disruption involved for assignees and their dependents need to remain a focus through the relocation, assignment and repatriation stages. Solutions for providing this experience can vary from an assignee centric service delivery model, as well as vendor and technology selection. Sponsors and colleagues on the ground, as well as at home, also need to take a leading role in ensuring the assignee experience is well managed.

This is just as true for repatriating assignees who will want to be sure that they reap the benefits of their assignments in terms of their career progression. Again, when this expectation does not meet reality, it can drive negative attitudes and perceptions.

Engaging with employees for open feedback will help in learning what they want, what problems and challenges they face throughout the career lifecycle in respect to mobility. This can be achieved through user friendly surveys and focus groups and should feed back into service delivery and process improvement.

Leveraging Assignees and Repatriates

The frequency of interaction between employers and their assignees and repatriates in their day-to-day work lives will also determine the success of global mobility programmes. The more frequent these interactions are, the more front-of-mind the Global Mobility programme will be. Organisations should ensure that they are showcasing individuals who have had a successful experience, helping to create awareness of the opportunities offered by the programme. Promoting success stories, facilitating roadshows, and Q&A sessions where employees can interact with these individuals can have a very positive impact.
Summary

To deal with these issues, HR and Global Mobility are well placed to implement solutions. Strategic HR and Global Mobility managers who have buy-in and influence with leadership and impact on employees can align business strategy with the talent and mobility agenda, driving the right mobility culture and outcomes.