Implement a successful global mobility program for your organisation, from planning to execution and beyond.
Oct 30, 2023
How To Develop A Global Mobility Program For Your Organisation
Global expansion runs smoother with a strategically positioned workforce, and theoretically, this is simple to achieve. In reality, however, there are many moving parts to creating a mobilised workforce, including ensuring compliance with local regulations on tax, immigration and employment law. Developing a robust global mobility program for your business can simplify processes, keeping you compliant and agile enough to employ and redeploy talent where it is needed most.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to creating a high-performance global mobility program.
Why Do You Need Global Mobility?
Speed-to-market and competition for scarce global talent are key to unlocking growth. A workforce that can move quickly worldwide is, therefore of significant strategic benefit to any business with global ambitions. To stay agile, businesses need fast, effective ways to attract, recruit, onboard and mobilise high-performing employees. However, arranging the seamless and compliant transition of professionals between countries is easier said than done when factoring in HR, tax, travel, payroll, finance and immigration considerations.
Building a global mobility program into your business strategy is prudent because it alleviates common mobility challenges. Today, this is more important than ever; research by the Post Office, UK, shows that nine in 10 employees imagine digital nomadism becoming a vital part of the future of work, with half believing the opportunity to work abroad remotely would increase their work-life balance and allow them to see the world.
The ability to mobilise workers is, therefore, not just about maximising growth opportunities. It’s also a way to keep top talent engaged and performing for your organisation.
The Benefits of Mobile Employees
Mobile employees bring numerous benefits to globally-expanding businesses. Mobile-ready employees can be redeployed to where they are needed most, helping businesses to unlock growth by breaking new markets. Enabling a mobilised workforce also increases an organisation’s talent pool and can improve its employer brand, leading to the recruitment of more talented individuals.
Here are some key benefits of a mobilised workforce:
Access to New Markets
Speed is often of the essence when entering new markets. Being ready and able to deploy existing talent to assist with training and development or sales can improve both speed-to-market and early market penetration. A robust global mobility program will enable quick deployment while ensuring compliance with employment, immigration and tax legislation. With experienced people on the ground, it’s easier to hire in the market you’re entering, too.
Globally, mobile employees present distinct advantages for companies with international round-the-clock operations, leading to increased 24/7 productivity. Imagine an international workforce where key personnel are always ‘on’ somewhere. Imagine, too, the ability to build and operate facilities in the places with the most attractive incentives, taxes, and laws for maximum productivity. A robust global mobility program that increases employee mobility will provide the firm foundations for an agile transfer of people or operations.
Enhanced Company Culture
Global mobility offers the opportunity to improve workplace attractiveness and satisfaction. Travel opportunities or a ‘work from anywhere’ approach can increase both the quantity and quality of job applicants. Global mobility programs can also help to shape and drive strategic diversity initiatives. According to McKinsey, there are clear correlations between diversity and performance. Research by the Boston Consulting Group also shows a diverse leadership team can increase your bottom line by 19%.
Nomadic employees are more able to build international networks and confidently pursue new opportunities. Global mobility programs can help employers prioritise personal and professional development to retain talented employees, holding their interest in opportunities within, rather than beyond, an organisation.
In summary, mobile employees help businesses to access new markets and drive growth. They are also more likely to stay engaged and stay around for longer.
Key Stages and Considerations Required To Develop A Robust Global Mobility Program
Here are seven steps for creating a global mobility program:
1. Identify and outline the objectives of the global mobility program
Different deployments will have different objectives. One scenario might see a sales team go in-country to support a bid. Another might require an employee to move for a 12-month period to re-organise an underperforming team or facility. Alternatively, a company may wish to employ local candidates.
In each scenario, objectives will differ. These objectives might include cost reduction, productivity improvements, meeting sales targets or even improving employee skills or experience. Keeping clear sight of the reasons for the deployment is the best way to stay on track.
2. Conduct Initial Planning: Tax, Immigration, and Cost Projections
Cost control is a vital component of effective business. Moving into a new territory can create uncertainty over what costs will likely be incurred. Engaging an expert with localised knowledge can provide clarity on likely expenditure, enabling businesses to budget and/or implement a cost-benefit analysis.
3. Create the Team: Employee Selection and Hiring
Ultimately, HR must take the lead on talent recruitment. Evaluating the potential merits of redeploying existing staff or hiring locally may be one consideration. Matching individual skills to individual business needs will be another. As with all HR processes, one eye must be kept on creating a high-performance team, including addressing skills gaps and ensuring a supportive culture.
4. Ensuring Legal Compliance Within New Foreign Countries
Busy internal HR teams may struggle to stay informed on real-time changes to local regulations in every country in which their workforce operates. Engaging a specialist partner with intimate, up-to-date knowledge of the regulatory landscape is the only way to stay compliant long-term.
5. Structure Compensation Scheme
Currency fluctuations, minimum wage legislation and relative spending power, must all be considered, particularly in the case of international assignments, where redeployed employees will not tolerate any feeling of being financially worse off as a result of their move.
6. Outlining Employee Support: Housing & School Relocation
Ensuring employees ‘settle’ in a new location can go well beyond simple employment conditions. Many forward-thinking businesses provide additional support to relocating employees, including assistance with property searches, financial budgets for visits, and even help in securing work for spouses or arranging adequate childcare. Here are some tips on creating a mobility friendly company culture that helps to ensure effective relocations.
7. Ongoing Tasks: Visa Renewals, Payroll, Performance Reviews
HR, like every other department, is increasingly data and process-driven. Fortunately, the next generation of dashboard-led SaaS businesses can make staying on top of renewals, paperwork, and other processes an automated and simplified process.
Identifying Timescales For Global Mobility Programs from Planning to Execution
Global mobility strategy consists of two clear parts. The first part is ensuring a structure, partners, objectives, and metrics are in place for enabling multiple international assignments or individual mobilisations into new countries. Once this process is defined, global mobility programs can identify, track and process everything required for individual assignments, new business entity set-ups or employee redeployment.
The timescales of global mobility programs will differ for many reasons, including the nature, length, and location of the deployment. Visa backlogs, processing times and other paperwork-related timelines also vary country-by-country; for example, visa processing in the UK takes three weeks. Immigration, tax, payroll, insurance, and relocation planning and processes are obvious timeline additions to a typical 12 to 60-month deployment.
A robust global mobility program will ensure deployments occur as swiftly and painlessly as possible. It will also provide business leaders and employees with clarity around expected timelines and budgets.
A good global mobility program will clarify the following:
- The specific legislation regarding the deployment, including all localised tax, business entity, immigration and employment law considerations
- A full list of related paperwork to be completed
- Estimates on processing times
The same program should also ensure a simplified way to track and ensure all logistics are completed in a timely fashion.
It is important for businesses to remain realistic about the time to redeploy talent. While speed-to-market can be a key growth driver, this should never be achieved at the cost of non-compliance.
Outlining Potential Challenges and Creating Contingencies
A robust global mobility program strategically manages employee well-being, logistics and compliance. Balancing the needs of individuals with complex immigration, tax, and employment laws can become a logistical minefield if not handled effectively. Multiply this across several territories, and the associated challenges rise exponentially.
As business managers, HR and legal professionals seek to accommodate individuals’ needs while uniting geographically disparate teams in a compliant manner. Not every organisation is hitting the mark; new research by the global risk management and insurance broker Gallagher indicates that 32% of overseas workers work internationally against company rules.
Having access to a local knowledge base and real-time data relevant to the locality is the first step in minimising the risk of non-compliance. HR should also have a contingency plan on every deployment, including the risk of visa delays or employee discontent with the move. A partner with local expertise can prove vital here by advising on typical issues, allowing companies to mitigate the likely risks.
Getting Support to Ensure a Successful Mobility Program
The complex nature of global mobility makes engaging a specialist provider a smart move to ensure speed, accuracy, and compliance. Internal teams, often stretched by other business priorities, benefit from the advice of local experts in hundreds of countries. They also have reassurance that they can stay up-to-date with an ever-changing regulatory environment.
For example, our cloud-based, AI-powered platform Centuro Connect supports immigration processes, entity setup and everything in between. It simplifies the international expansion journey by giving access to advice and real-time requirements for new market entry, all in one innovative human-led platform.
Managing your global mobility program through a platform like Centuro Connect is the smart way to do global mobility. It also aids reporting by providing a dashboard environment in which processes and ROI can be tracked.
Global Mobility Success: A Case Study in Effective Mobility Implementation
A-Gas, a global supplier of refrigerants and environmental services, sought to solidify its presence in the competitive UK market by acquiring another established refrigerant company in the UK. Its aim? To expand its European market reach and product portfolio.
Without the support of Centuro Global, A-Gas may have fallen foul of intricate legal and immigration considerations. In collaboration, we relocated key personnel smoothly while adhering to complex immigration regulations and compliance requirements. We supported A-Gas with strategic planning, visa application management and regulatory compliance, freeing its internal team to concentrate on amplifying its market position and expanding offerings. A-Gas met its strategic objectives, but our partnership resulted in other benefits, too. Our knowledge contributed to an expedited timeline, operational efficiency, and cost optimisation, adding value to the expansion.
Growing a business internationally while moving the right employees into place is complex, as it involves overcoming many regulatory requirements. However, executing a robust global mobility program can be straightforward with planning and the right tools and partners in place.
The best global mobility programs deliver more than compliance. With the right planning and execution, these programs can become a springboard to attract talent, reduce costs, and ultimately, achieve global growth.
Contact us for further advice on developing a robust global mobility program for your organisation.