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7 things to consider for a more efficient workforce mobility programme


How closely does your organisations track mobility programme costs? While the cost for policy support such as household goods shipments, housing allowances and home sale incentives may be clear, many overlook the 'invisible' costs related to administering the programme.

According to SIRVA's Annual Mobility Report, a majority of participants 48%-72% (reflects variations for different move types) are unable to quantify how much was spent per relocating employee. Where survey participants were able to quantify cost, 17-37% indicated they spent under US$10,000 for: employee contact, file management and support; third-party suppliers for service delivery; and internal headcount (mobility/relocation full time equivalents).

In fact, when looking at spend related to policy support, SIRVA's data revealed the average relocation packages costs over:

  • US$1.2 million for long term
  • US$520,000 for short term
  • US$189,000 for permanent transfer.

To streamline these costs, it's imperative for organisations to increase the efficiency of their mobility programmes while providing better support to business stakeholders and relocating employees.

To help HR and mobility leaders get started, SIRVA's report suggested considering the following:

#1 Understand your mobility scope of services To do so, consider the following questions: What services are the mobility function (directly or indirectly) delivering to customers and employees? Do these services leverage core competencies of the team and is there a more efficient way to deliver? Does the mix of services delivered (strategic advisory services, operational program administration) align with the defined mobility (and organisational) strategy?

#2 Leverage on partnerships Partner with internal or external subject matter or process experts. This can help elevate mobility to a more strategic level or reduce cost by providing the option to leverage the knowledge, expertise, global reach and operational infrastructure of each partner.

#3 Re-look at your mobility team roles Are mobility team roles defined and tiered according to the skills and capabilities required to support mobility customers and employees? Do mobility team resources possess the appropriate competencies and credentials to deliver against defined responsibilities?

#4 Keep up with changes and challenges With mobility challenges changing frequently and differing by region/country, ensure your mobility subject matter experts understand key challenges and changes and are well-versed on mobility research and trends.

#5 Make use of technology Consider implementing available technologies (internal or external) to automate tasks, processes and workflows and to provide self-service options (as appropriate) to business stakeholders and relocating employees. Ensure the technologies used provide enough transparency to activity status and information to minimise engagement with mobility resources. Integrate your native systems integrate with mobility-focused systems and ensure the technology you use enables management reporting.

#6 Document your processes Clearly define your process roles and responsibilities - including service level agreements (SLAs), performance expectations (quality), control points and escalation procedures. At the same time, ensure your mobility resources have enough lead time to prepare for and manage a pending relocation.

#7 Reporting and tracking return on investment (ROI) Interestingly, SIRVA's report highlighted that 64% of organisations do not track ROI. If your organisation falls into this group and you're looking to start tracking, here are some steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Define what ROI means to your organisation.
  • Step 2: Define what data points you require to capture ROI.
  • Step 3: Look at the systems needed to pull data and who receives the reporting output.
  • Step 4: Ensure your mobility data provides real-time insights and information that can be used to impact organisational directives, resourcing decisions and proactive talent management to support the business.
  • Step 5: Consider how the ROI data can be used to influence and inform future decisions regarding deployment.

SIRVA's report also revealed the following insights that are impacting the mobility landscape:

  • Over 41% of respondents expect an increase in short-term assignments in the next one to three years while over 43% expect an increase in extended business travelers during the same period.
  • Temporary domestic moves (defined as two-way moves within the same country) are expected to increase by close to 20% in the next one to three years.
  • Volumes for long-term international moves (top and mid-tier employees) and one-way domestic moves are expected to remain the same (53%, 47% and 46%, respectively).
  • Despite the need to adjust the ratio of mobility professionals to relocating employee based on move type, 56% of organisations do not do so.
  • 45% of respondents stated their global mobility teams are providing more consultative/advisory support to business lines and/or human resource business partners.

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