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Global employee mobility in 2017: 5 trends to watch

Don’t miss Employee Benefits Asia, Asia’s leading C&B conference. In Hong Kong,
Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in May – Register now

The complex landscape of global employee mobility continues to evolve. This year, the industry has seen some new concepts emerge, even as some topics considered quite “cutting edge” just a few years ago are now popular trends.

It is an exciting time for mobility professionals, with added political, economic, security, and regulatory complexities. Meanwhile, many are  experiencing the benefits of new technology and stronger global collaboration.

While it is impossible to predict what will happen, Crown World Mobility advises practitioners to always be prepared for change, by enlisting five global mobility trends that could shape the industry in the coming months.

Trend 1: Closing the gender gap

The percentage of female assignees remains at around 20%. Here are ideas for global companies to break down barriers to gender equality in mobility:

  1. Become a sponsor and encourage more senior male leaders to do same for female assignees.
  2. Create a culture of inclusion that focuses on workforce flexibility for women and men – it shouldn’t single out women to request flexibility.
  3. Women need the right opportunities at all levels, not just at the top – gather data on your female assignees (their levels, age groups, business units and home locations).

Trend 2: Simplification of policy documents

2017 is the year to start simplifying (or doing away with) 30-40 page documents. Over the past few years, we’ve seen more information available via websites and apps. There is less patience, especially from Millennials, for long, text-heavy documents.

Infographics, animation and other visually appealing media are being applied to traditional HR documents – and mobility has lagged behind in this area. Take a look at your mobility policies and other documents that you provide relocating employees. Pick one to start with – 2017 is the year to update your information and transform it into a more useful and relevant style.

Trend 3: Cost savings

There are two ways to look this perennial mobility topic – one relates to your policy, and reducing, or eliminating, employee benefits within a provision; the other relates to the company’s overall approach to moving employees.

Here is what may be worth your thought in relation to cost savings this year:

  1. Reserving the traditional, home country balance sheet long-term assignment policy for VIP or high-payback assignments; thus using a host location-based compensation approach for standard moves
  2. Making furnished housing the default approach and household goods shipments for exceptions or VIP moves only.

Trend 4: Technology’s impact on mobility

Technology has touched every industry, and mobility is no exception. Companies can now track most assignment-related details, including: volume, current assignment locations, previous locations, types of assignments, assignee reporting lines, length of time left on an assignment, and repatriated assignees.

In 2015, Crown started talking about “uber mobility” for the first time, referring to an employee’s use of technology to self-manage many move elements. Nowadays, apps are available for destination information, managing your move, planning your trip, travel tracking, security tracking, expense reports, home finding and more elements of relocation every day.

In 2017, the industry will start to implement numerous virtual solutions to support or replace assignment planning, pre-decision trips, home finding solutions, pre-move home surveys, etc.

Trend 5: Examples of low-cost policy approaches

  1. Expat lite: A less robust version of the traditional policy
  2. Local plus: Using host location compensation and benefits as a base, and providing a few benefits where living as a local is unrealistic for a temporary assignee
  3. Local-to-local: The transfer of an employee from one location to another with relocation support, but not ongoing assignment benefits
  4. Localisation: The transition to local status at the end of an assignment in lieu of repatriation, or the transfer of an employee to a new location to live as a local
  5. Core-flex: The most popular approaches, this offers a “core” set of policy benefits for all assignees, such as immigration and tax), while allowing for flexible options based on employee needs or business needs
  6. Managed lump sum: While this is rarely offered for international moves (as it leaves too much room for employee, family or company error), it is popular for early career assignments

Photo / 123RF

Don’t miss Employee Benefits Asia, Asia’s leading C&B conference. In Hong Kong,
Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in May – Register now

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