Measuring ROI on global mobility can improve decision-making on deployments.
Oct 11, 2023
Key Performance Indicators for Assessing the ROI of Global Mobility Programmes
Modern businesses understand the role data can play in improving decision-making. With effective, data-driven Return on Investment (ROI) metrics in place, enterprises can improve accuracy when assessing global mobility strategy.
Relocating or recruiting employees where they’re most effective makes sense for globally expanding companies. The frictionless movement of employees across borders for work, also known as global mobility, is helpful for various reasons: networking and conference opportunities, training local staff in a particular skill, filling an interim role, or supporting expansion into new markets. In theory, the wide variety of potential deployments can make measuring ROI on global mobility complex. However, modern business methods can simplify processes, making assessing your global mobility strategy easier.
In this blog, you’ll learn how to measure the ROI of your global mobility programme effectively, looking at key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help you achieve a cost-effective and successful business expansion.
Why ROI Matters in Global Mobility
It’s an old business adage: what gets measured gets managed. Measuring ROI on global mobility enables companies to track the effectiveness of their global mobility spend and their ability to deploy talent to drive real-world business outcomes. These ROIs provide greater transparency and a better understanding of how your existing global mobility strategy delivers for the business. Businesses can then experiment with processes to see if they can deliver more for the same or lower spend. HR can also use these metrics to demonstrate to the C-suite how global mobility improves company performance.
However, despite the clear benefits, most companies are still not measuring their global mobility effectiveness. Only 10% of global mobility professionals leverage data to aid business decisions, according to KPMG Insights. That’s why assessing global mobility strategy based on KPIs puts those looking to scale quickly ahead of their competition.
The Business Case for Global Mobility
Global mobility is increasingly popular; KPMG found that 20% of global mobility professionals use it as a key enabler of their organisation’s talent strategy. Businesses understand that an effective global mobility strategy can help to attract, recruit, and retain the best talent while increasing speed to market, reducing risk, and ultimately improving profits. Other key benefits can be found on our Global Mobility page here.
The Costs Involved in a Global Mobility Programme
Global mobility does generate costs, but these must be weighed against the cost of inaction, which could include losing talented employees, missing out on market expansion opportunities or reduced employee morale.
Costs can include expert advice on tax, immigration, and other legal matters, depending on the deployment location. Visa processing fees and, if necessary, the cost of new employer of record or business entity set-ups must also be factored in. Additionally, businesses should budget for employee relocation costs, including accommodation and travel to language lessons or childcare arrangements.
These costs can quickly mount if they are not streamlined or managed correctly. Previously, it was common for corporations to use an expensive variety of niche specialists for every part of the relocation journey. Using one compliance provider is now possible, saving significant money and time.
Why Measuring ROI is Essential
Measuring ROI on global mobility is essential in developing a cost-effective expansion strategy. Measuring ROI delivers transparency and improved decision-making. It provides a clear method of accountability for all concerned. And it gives business leaders confidence that global mobility budgets are being managed and measured in a scientific way that will ultimately lead to continuous improvement.
It’s also important to remember that ROI metrics should not be viewed in isolation. HR professionals understand that global mobility centres around people with real human needs, not just balancing numbers. Assessing global mobility strategy should, therefore, be both a qualitative and quantitative endeavour.
What are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
Key performance indicators (KPIs) help goal-driven organisations to measure the effectiveness of actions they’ve implemented. Typical HR KPIs may include statistics around length of service, employee satisfaction scores, or ratios on the diversity of employees.
KPIs should be linked closely to strategic objectives, making measurements meaningful and allowing businesses to adjust or correct processes to improve performance against a set KPI.
The Importance of KPIs in Global Mobility Programmes
KPIs make an HR team’s ability to report on the economic performance of a global mobility programme more objective. Measuring costs and savings on global mobility also helps financial leaders track spend and create a leaner business. A more sophisticated ROI programme will also consider increased profits or other business performance due to a mobile workforce. However, given the number of potential variables, this could be harder to achieve.
KPIs can also help businesses evaluate non-financial performance, such as employee satisfaction levels, retention rates, and employer reviews on sites like Glassdoor.
Metric KPIs should always be part, rather than the whole, of assessing global mobility strategy. Anecdotal evidence, such as employee interviews, can also prove vital in demonstrating the effectiveness of a global mobility strategy.
Common KPIs for Global Mobility
Every business will have its methods of measuring overall productivity and success. At a global mobility level, typical KPIs may include:
- Average relocation costs per employee
- Average time to deployment
- Average employee satisfaction level post-deployment
Other common financial and people-based KPIs include:
Financial KPIs for Global Mobility
- Actual cost vs. cost estimate – Estimating costs before deploying a colleague is likely essential to signing off the deployment, but comparing these costs to actual costs is often overlooked.
- Advisory costs – HR and legal departments looking to comply with foreign regulations often rely on multiple advisory firms charging significant day rates for their advice. Pulling together total advisory costs can provide a clearer picture of the total cost of outsourcing. It may highlight that a specialist global mobility service provider could deliver more for less spending.
- Recruitment costs – It’s often difficult to determine whether redeploying an existing employee to a new country or recruiting a native is more cost and business-effective. Generating numerical information on this spending can make decision-making more effective.
People KPIs for global mobility
- Employee satisfaction – A happy employee is likelier to thrive, not just survive an international assignment. Setting metrics capturing employee satisfaction levels delivers data that helps businesses understand which assignments work and why.
- Employee performance – A comparison between pre-, during, and post-relocation is a valuable benchmark for success, establishing where employees are most effective.
- Diversity of employees – Global mobility can be an effective driver of greater diversity in the workforce, but performance must be measured over time.
Customising KPIs for Your Business
Financial and people-based KPIs offer a solid starting point for assessing global mobility strategy internationally. However, customisation is critical to introducing KPIs that work for your business.
When setting KPIs to measure ROI on global mobility, key decision-makers should ask:
- Which time-based KPIs apply to my project timeline? E.g., Estimated vs actual time to deploy an international assignment (and each element within), such as time to apply for visas, source accommodation, or set up payroll.
- What are the productivity-based KPIs that apply to my business objectives? E.g., Retention following a relocation – is the employee and the overall assignment performing as expected?
- How will I measure quality using KPIs? E.g., Did each step of the relocation run smoothly, or were there delays and challenges? Was the relocation efficient overall? How did the relocation lead to improved business performance?
Collecting data from multiple KPI touchpoints is helpful because, when cross-referenced, it builds a better picture of the employee experience and business results. For example, delays in processing visas or finding accommodation might link directly to attrition rates because of a dip in employee satisfaction.
Measuring ROI of Global Mobility Programmes Through KPIs
The following steps explain how to make assessing global mobility strategy effectiveness an inherent part of your business.
Steps to Measure ROI
- Start with clear business objectives. KPIs should be linked to strategic objectives to ensure global mobility operations link to overall business success.
- Define what ROI means to your business. ROI calculations will differ from business to business. Some may prioritise measuring global mobility against increased sales, others against increased staff retention or others may, for example, measure against increased up-time or fewer safety incidents in a manufacturing setting. Defining what ROI means to your business specifically allows you to prove its success.
- Understand the needs of all departments involved. Tracking talent lists may be high on the agenda of talent acquisition managers. HR may want to know how many employees have been promoted or exited the business in a certain period. The CFO might want to understand better spending against budget. Understanding what your team needs to know will enable you to introduce the right KPIs and ways to measure ROI.
- Underpin your ROI measures with additional financial KPIs. Financial KPIs are essential when measuring ROI, but as we’ve touched on, they’re not the only measure of success. Still, it makes sense to underpin your process with quantifiable metrics.
- Build out your people KPIs to understand the experience behind the ROI. Employee satisfaction can be measured in both a qualitative and quantitative way. Define what success looks like for your organisation and assign metrics – and additional research methods – to suit.
- Rationalise your metrics. Time is precious, and although the temptation may be to measure everything, its simpler and more cost-effective to pick the few ‘key’ performance indicators that truly give a snapshot of the health and effectiveness of a global mobility programme.
Tools and Software for Tracking
A KPI dashboard is invaluable for any business manager tracking global mobility metrics. Dashboards display data in a visually appealing way that’s easy to monitor and digest. Familiar tools like Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel offer powerful functionality but basic connectivity to data storage solutions, and the manual input required may be off-putting for administrators.
At an enterprise level, software such as Google Looker Studio, part of the Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Power BI, part of Microsoft Azure, will suit businesses already invested in cloud providers with the resources to manipulate data. Tableau is another popular option. With all these enterprise platforms, it’s easy for administrators to pull data from other solutions into one easily observable dashboard. However, they will be bound by their existing service provider rather than their preferred tool.
Specific dashboards for global mobility are less common but can deliver outstanding value and insight for an organisation. An AI-based platform like Centuro Connect keeps information on assignments up to date, giving businesses the feeling of transparency and control over all global mobility processes.
The platform offers instant access to up-to-date information and solutions without the expensive cost or time delay in moving your employees or business to new markets. Its features include;
- Case Management – Manage your expansion plans and project status instantly.
- Concierge Service – Our Concierge team helps you through complex processes or queries.
- Cost of Living Calculator – Quickly compare cost of living information across countries, areas and cities in seconds.
- Expert Connect – Local experts from around the world at your fingertips.
- Custom Dashboard – Initiate a case and track all your respective cases and data in one easy-to-use dashboard.
- Global Blueprints – We make starting up in more than one market easy. Our blueprints are available for over 170 countries.
Case Studies or Examples
For example, a global manufacturing business might have an underperforming site in Asia. This may be a loss-making facility, or perhaps it has problems retaining staff or a high number of safety incidents.
A business adept at assessing global mobility strategy might measure the costs of redeploying a new site manager from Europe. This cost could then be calculated against a KPI: site profitability, staff retention rates, employee satisfaction surveys, or lost time due to safety incidents. The resulting correlations could then be used to justify the ROI of the initial deployment.
Measuring the ROI of Your Global Mobility Strategy: Challenges and Solutions
Measuring ROI on global mobility can be simple or complicated, depending on the methods used. Here are some common challenges:
Common Pitfalls in Measuring ROI
Poor data management and failure to ensure the correct data is captured, cleaned, and labelled can quickly derail a team’s ability to draw accurate comparisons.
Variable costs and cost increases over time – such as accommodation, storage, and shipping – are also tricky to assess on a like-for-like basis due to global disparities in the costs of items and services. Indirect costs may be missed, making determining a complete picture of project finances difficult.
It may also be difficult to truly evaluate costs year-on-year, as the number of mobile deployments and the location of employee deployments may change quickly and vary massively due to shifting business priorities.
The most common pitfall is a failure to prepare. Businesses should ready themselves for a more specific and data-driven approach to measuring global mobility and bake-in processes at the start of projects rather than at the end. This includes thoroughly examining which KPIs should be applied and when.
Measuring global mobility ROI is a relatively new concept; most businesses will not have sophisticated systems. The key is to simplify the journey towards collecting data and measuring performance. A specialist service provider can make the difference by [CG3] [GH4] providing a tried and tested dashboard to make measurement and control simple, time, and cost-effective.
When growing a business internationally, financial ROI calculations on global mobility can provide robust evidence of effectiveness and highlight opportunities for improvement. However, measuring a global mobility programme’s financial performance alone doesn’t offer a complete picture. Setting wider KPIs compatible with company culture and strategic objectives – for example, on employee engagement – can draw out additional meaningful data. Qualitative research can also add vital context. The leading question to ask when measuring ROI is what success looks like to your business and people.
Need help with transforming or assessing your global mobility strategy? Contact us to learn more about our tailored, AI-powered global mobility tools and advisory services.