Talent & Tech Asia Summit 2024
Highlights: What we learnt at Talent Mobility 2024

Highlights: What we learnt at Talent Mobility 2024

Increasing statutory regulations, the rise of the virtual assignee, and more — As reported by Sarah Gideon, with inputs from Arina Sofiah, here are some trends and key takeaways from the 10th annual conference.

Wednesday, 20 March 2024 saw about 100 global workforce mobility & talent management practitioners gathering at The Westin Singapore for Talent Mobility 2024, one-day, high-level, content-packed networking event devoted to making employees mobile. 

The 10th annual conference saw leaders in the field coming from around the region to immerse themselves in a day dedicated to senior-level conversations, content, and catch-ups on the key mobility issues that are top of mind in today's evolving talent landscape.

Mobility experts took the stage to showcase their experiences and insights, tackling topics such as tightening border measures, increasing statutory regulations, the rise of the virtual assignee, and flexibility & personalisation in the mobility package.  

As reported by Sarah Gideon, with inputs from Arina Sofiah, here are some key takeaways from the conference. 

*Note: While certain parts of the content is shared in the context of Singapore, HRO believes the overall takeaways remain relevant and noteworthy to our readers from across the region.

‘Yes, and’? How about, 'Yes, but’ 

Kicking this year’s Talent Mobility 2024 off with a bang, our keynote speaker shared her valuable insights on transforming aspirations for talent mobility into a practical and comprehensive future that aligns with talent management objectives. 

During the session, the leader shared her thoughts on how to manage the aspirations of mobile talent, and ensure a richer succession pipeline, as well as fulfil business requirements in the wake of a talent shortage. 

She highlighted three key points shaping the landscape: 

  1. The talent pool continues to be limited. However, with mobility working alongside talent management, it opens up a larger pool of talent. Furthermore, this limitation will allow entities to look at a larger talent market, on a global scale. Certain skills need to be sourced as they may not be available in a particular market. With talent management and mobility working closely with one another, the talent that meets the required skills can be found in the least amount of time needed and at the lowest possible cost.  
  2. Organisations are increasingly compelled to tackle the underrepresentation of various demographic groups, including women and minorities. To add, there is a pressing necessity to address the high concentration of nationalities in certain roles or locations. This imperative should drive organisations to broaden their search for talent beyond traditional boundaries. By doing so, they not only tap into diverse skill sets but also empower individuals to relocate to environments where their roles and needs align more effectively. 
  3. Retaining talent will help remove boundaries, allowing employees more flexibility and even enabling these employees to leverage all the resources of the organisation, be it in the location that they are in. 

The speaker also shared some insightful knowledge on how instead of just saying no, there is more open conversation when saying ‘yes, but’. Instead of posing as a gatekeeper, mobility professionals allow a more engaging process by looking at different areas for assignees to have a more rewarding mobility package experience despite the array of red tape.  

Building talent capabilities in Asia 

Another key topic discussed in a separate session was the need to take on a thoughtful and holistic approach to talent mobility.  

Here are some key takeaways from the session: 

  1. The importance of 'going local' and investing in developing local successors rather than relying solely on importing talent — especially with the emergence of new a type of employee: born in one place, received education in another, and currently working in yet another.  
  2. There is an increased demand for inclusivity in mobility, addressing perceptions around mobility revamp programmes, and more. 
  3. Understanding the rationale behind a company's presence in a specific location is crucial. If it's not primarily due to the availability of talent that can be hired, developed, and promoted, then it prompts a reconsideration of the initial decision to establish operations there. 
  4. There is a need to hire more seasoned and experienced employees, than that of fresh graduates, to grow and develop the talent. 
  5. Singapore's COMPASS framework gives clarity for businesses to focus better on what talent should be focused on for Employment Passes. 
  6. On a global scale, there is a bit more protectionism on immigration. However, in Singapore, there is a more upfront discussion and fewer turndowns, but more considerations.  
  7. It is important to shift from a ‘risk-facing client mindset’ to a commercial one, to make sure talent management understands the needs of the organisation, and how both the talent and the company can benefit by sending talent abroad.  

Enabling communication  

One of the panel discussions at Talent Mobility saw our panellists and moderator come together to explore a career development and succession planning framework that ensures visibility on expats’ performance in both home and host locations. 

Further, the panel discussed the importance of having a joined-up approach whereby managing the aspirations of mobile talent does not only ensure a richer succession pipeline, but also fulfils business requirements in the wake of a talent shortage. 

One panellist identified the need to build a relationship between the ‘home’ and ‘host’ line manager, and the mobile assignee, emphasising how it is crucial to invest time in enabling line managers to have better communication and stay connected with employees. Fostering skills development & giving feedback between the ‘host’ and ‘home’ line managers is a key driver that can lead to a robust, fulfilling and successful assignment.  

The discussion also brought to light the need to track stakeholders' feedback as engaging and opening conversations with assignees and stakeholders can promote vulnerability to share both success and failed assignment stories.  

Finally, both panellists shared a similar sentiment that the mobility and the HR function need to work alongside one another, noting feedback gathered by both stakeholders and assignees should be gathered by the HR team and collectively shared so that the feedback can be presented in a consumable manner and may be challenged for improvement.  

ASEAN’s evolving immigration frameworks 

In a fast-paced lightning talk session, two leaders took to the stage to analyse the most intriguing topic facing mobility leaders today – the business of borders, and how companies are mitigating risks to workforce planning. 

With the introduction of the COMPASS framework in Singapore in 2023, come several updates to work pass legislation, such as qualifying salaries, and the definition of ‘digital nomads’. 

In navigating such impactful legislative changes, the two speakers shared three key strategies that worked for them, that other leaders can consider:  

Internal changes   

  • Partner with an immigration partner to come up with an information session, so that employees and stakeholders have a better understanding of the COMPASS framework.  
  • Education qualification – understanding who is eligible to be hired based on the criteria needed.  

Stakeholder management – whether business functions inside or outside of Singapore  

  • Have sessions with head offices to let them know that this is upcoming, so they can review what is needed.  
  • Reach out to business function heads for their inputs and feedback. 

The speakers also stressed the need for an effective communication strategy in place to alleviate any concerns.

A communication strategy to alleviate concerns.  

How to champion future-proof mobility initiatives 

Closing off Talent Mobility 2024 was a panel discussion where the speakers covered the following topics:  

  1. How to identify the most cost-effective yet high-impact mobility strategies that work.  
  2. Criteria for consideration to determine remuneration for mobile employees, such as external benchmarking, cost of living, skills portfolio, and more.  
  3. Opportunities to look beyond one-size-fits-all to offer greater flexibility to employees in choosing what works best for them – and the impact of this personalisation on employee experience.  
  4. The change in mindset required to move to a more flexible mobility strategy.   

The panel acknowledged that mobility is an evolving concept. Nevertheless, they agreed that it is important to nurture high-performers and young talent — having that mobility can be motivating, they can even come back with a refreshed skillset. 

The panellists also highlighted the need to tap on AI for a more streamlined, effective, and full-proof mobility strategy. Relying on AI can quicken the mobility process by matching skills to projects being undergone in an organisation, allowing the employee to decide for themselves if that were a project they would wish to take on. 

One panellist shared a key concept of ‘testing before you buy’, in which assignees can dip their toes into a mobility package without having to move abroad. Further, it provides the mobility experience of doing something outside their own team, within the constraints for wherever they are.  

Another panellist shared that the evolution of mobility has seen more single people moving overseas as opposed to those with families or spouses. This is due to cost efficiency, as well as ensuring a higher probability of a successful assignment.  

Human Resources Online would like to thank all speakers, moderators, panellists, and attendees for being valuable contributors to this event. 

We would also like to extend our gratitude to our sponsors & partners for making this conference possible: 


Vialto Partners

AIA Corporate Solutions

Great World Serviced Apartments
Sterling Lexicon

ALSO READ: HRadiO: Shazy Tan on the importance of a cost-friendly & high impact talent mobility package

Lead image / HRO  

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