Trends and driving factors in global mobility

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Transformative change is ahead within the numerous facets of global mobility. The catalyst - technological innovation - is delivering convenience, scientific breakthroughs, increased productivity and a host of additional benefits. Never before in world history has a restructuring of economic society been so rapid, and encompassing.

Technological innovations in communications and information technology have created a global economy, eradicating national borders, and impacting most industries. Business must integrate to remain competitive, or face meeting a Cretaceous-Tertiary like demise. Innovation, a key driver of growth, dictates that business must adapt or vanish like the dinosaurs.

The list of industries acclimating to stay current and address growth needs is vast and continues to grow. The world's most respected high performing companies, such as Apple, Amazon, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, IBM, and Uber are depending on IT systems, and cloud computing to deliver speed, accuracy, and precision to ensure a competitive advantage.

In addition to technological modernisation, economic, social, and political, world events continue to impact global business. With 40 per cent of the world's population utilising online access, "It's a Small World After All." In recollection of the Disney theme song, I find it thought provoking that the 54-year old lyric of the most performed and widely translated song on earth is more accurate than ever. Indeed, technology has had a globalizing effect transforming the infrastructure of industry, politics, and education.

Modifications are being made in business structures across most industries acknowledging the critical importance of becoming a data-driven organization. This is true for global mobility having advanced from an operational function without a cohesive method to a strategic process. Today's solutions provide better forecasting data. Measurement criteria and quantifiable data metrics minimize corporate risk, and support informed decision making via the actionable insight provided.

Diverse businesses in varied industries are driven by analytics. Provisioning reliable data is crucial for efficiency allowing for assessment and improvements in the navigation of business. Data supports overall operational excellence. It is pre-emptive to position global mobility at the center of business activity, as the ability to manage global talent efficiently, and tactically will impact business success or failure.

The primary driver of what is commonly referred to as a global community is the rapid progress of technology and how it has facilitated a restructuring of our careers and personal lives. Global behaviours have been modified to include technology. US airline JetBlue is testing a program that replaces boarding passes with facial recognition in the hope of reducing wait lines with the help of technology, and streamlining the travel industry.

"There are now a billion social media posts every two days…which represent the largest increase in the capacity of the human race to express itself at any time in the history of the world," said Weatherhead University professor Gary King.

Mark Zuckerberg, a role model for millennials, announced that he would push Facebook, which has more than 1.8 billion users worldwide, in a direction that would help convince individuals and governments that "progress now requires humanity coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community."

Millennials' in search of meaningful experiences share a similar mindset and are known for being motivated by the allure of life enrichment, gained from experiencing different cultures. Millennials are likely to self-initiate deployment.

Business expansion opportunities are worldwide, and companies are acclimating to attract and retain qualified talent. The traditional long-term relocation is less attractive in comparison to the various accommodating practices and policies that allow for shorter assignments. A PwC report shows that the average length of an assignment has decreased to 18 months with moves of less than a year growing more common.

Corporations are confronted with skill gaps brought on by rapid change. This demand has made the one size fits all model in assignee relocation a thing of the past. Current global mobility trends include a menu of hybrid assignee options; such as project-based assignments with temporary or frequent assignee visits. Another variation of this would be commuting and extended business travel to a location without relocation. There are developmental rotational programs for high potential employees, and reverse transfers allowing talent from emerging markets to gain skills in established markets to fill future needs upon their return home.
The "gig economy" is a buzzword du jour--a term for independent contractors retained to fill temporary positions. It can prove beneficial to companies as the business gains the ability to use experts for specific projects who would typically require too high-priced of an annual salary to maintain.

Millennials' preferences are restructuring global mobility, as they have surpassed Generation X comprising the largest share of the American workforce since 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. The technology forward Millennial workforce prefers an online process simplifying the required paperwork standard with international assignments.

The corporate culture of a company is viewed as one of the most significant benefits of today's workforce and said to be the main reason an employee will stay or leave. The growing trend of seeking a sense of worth at work has become more common as compared to a job to pay the bills. Today's candidates are making health, happiness and the quality of their lives a top priority.

The average person in the US spends approximately 90,000 hours out of their lifetime at work, in the UK it is about the same. 13 million working days are lost every year due to stress related illness. That said; the Millennial's happiness mindset may prove advantageous to both employee and employer if sick days are reduced. This culture shift and others; such as different types of family units' other than the traditional nuclear family require workplace modifications to be made so to attract and retain the best talent. In a future where talent shortages for global assignments are predicted, companies are creating flexible options to meet diverse needs.

As the management of human resources has become an international function, Mobility managers and HR roles now include the accountability to interpret data. It is not all about the numbers all of the time though, as technology can take a tedious function lacking efficiency and dispense answers at the press of a button, both empowering employees and making their job more fulfilling.

There is a difference in strategic methods of management and forcing conformity. Things to watch for are cultures of inclusion with opportunities becoming available for female employees other than top executives. Female assignees have increased from 10 per cent to 20 per cent in the last decade. Not exactly groundbreaking growth, but forward-thinking companies are attempting to close the gender gap by initiating programs that support female assignees. It is a consensus in global mobility that we will see a continued increase in female assignees.
Some standard mobility practices remain essential; such as providing professional relocation support services for the relocating family. Support programs are designed to minimize the risk of a family's inability to adjust to the destination country environment.

Operational trends include larger companies utilizing a centralized approach to meet corporate mobility needs. Increased cost controls and stringent compliance duties are a standard part of corporate policies in mobility strategies to manage security and regulatory complexities, risk, and exposure.

A new operational trend in human resources, garnering attention is open-source initiatives. Open-source allows for the sharing of case studies and other documents that are posted online. It expedites global networking allowing HR professionals to find quick answers, saving time and money. This does not mean that confidential or sensitive information is shared. It is, however; another way that technology is reshaping the work world. 95 per cent of businesses that are members of OECD, an organization dedicated to global economic development, have online visibility realising the IoT and technology solutions are the way to capture market share.

What remains paramount is that humans are key to the interpretation of data, able to determine patterns better than computers, we play an essential role in creating knowledge.


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