The international expansion brings valuable business opportunities – not least in unlocking the potential of your employees…
It’s easy to focus on international expansion as a predominantly administrative and logistical challenge – but in doing so, many employers overlook the opportunities and possibilities of connecting a global mobility strategy to their employees’ talent and ambition.
Global mobility continues to be a growing trend; with research suggesting around 46% of HR managers expect to see more employees sent overseas on a long-term basis over the next few years. But while an expanding international footprint serves to address a range of operational and commercial needs, it is also a valuable strategy for attracting talented employees, helping them develop professionally, and achieve their career goals – all of which represent a valuable reciprocal benefit for employers.
Building talent management into your global mobility strategy is a way to unlock the potential of your workforce, at home, and in your expansion territory – and in doing so, promote your business interests. To help you achieve that alignment, here are some useful mobility-talent tips…
Build from recruitment
All businesses recruit with a focus on candidate skill but, with international expansion in mind, that approach should take certain additional factors into consideration. Think about what type of employee would deliver value from an international assignment, and how that assignment might appeal to their own professional needs. Skills like language proficiency, global payroll, accounting, and international law, are obvious conventional priorities, but ‘outside the box’ traits like adaptability and creativity may also be valuable in an overseas setting.
Identify goals early
Managing and directing your talent pool is a fundamental part of the global mobility challenge and should be thought about by both employer and employee at an early stage of the working relationship – with special consideration given to future overseas assignments and succession planning. Helping employees plan ahead may mean engaging with a global mobility specialist or team, but this kind of early collaboration allows both parties to establish and pursue mobility goals as part of their career progression – while simultaneously positioning the global mobility strategy as an integral part of a business’ identity.
Analyse cost and value
For it to be sustainable, employers should think carefully about the cost and value of their global mobility plan. With that in mind, it’s essential that an efficient analytic infrastructure is in place to measure the metrics relevant to determining global mobility value. These metrics should explicitly include the cost of deploying employees overseas, the return on investment they provide (through experience and expertise), and levels of long-term employee-talent retention. The higher the scope and detail of the analysis, the more efficiently the global mobility strategy can be costed and deployed in the future.
The modern workforce is informed and ambitious, and most employees (particularly those in early-career roles) have specific expectations of their employers, which include international opportunities and global mobility. Appealing to this workforce demographic is a key global mobility consideration: while working in an overseas location is often perceived as glamorous and exciting, employers should nonetheless engage employees proactively. Communicate the details of overseas postings clearly, including the investment you plan to direct towards them, the career advantages they might bring, and any broader positive professional consequences for employees who decide to pursue them.
Mobile employee populations, often working in unfamiliar territories, need to be able to rely on strong leadership – to both get the most out of their international assignment, and deliver on their employer’s business goals. To achieve that mutual benefit, it’s crucial the talent-focused HR team works in synchrony with the more territory-focused global mobility team, to identify and promote those leadership candidates who meet both sets of criteria. Creating that robust core of international leaders is a valuable legacy-strategy: experienced employees can direct and develop leaders from within the mobile population, and so continue to benefit the company long-term.
Provide on-going support
A global mobility strategy should include comprehensive and on-going support for employees transferring to an overseas location. The immigration process, for example, represents a significant early barrier to global mobility (turning many potential candidates off the idea), so your strategy should make the process as smooth as possible. Practically this means, efficiently covering administrative tasks such as the submission of employment visa and work permit applications, and any associated financial costs. Looking beyond immigration, a global mobility strategy should help employees integrate and acclimate to their new professional and social lives, which might mean help finding accommodation, international school options for children, cultural training, and even language lessons.