Keynote presentations with perspectives on how the current VUCA business environment will affect mobility, case studies of different approaches to workforce mobility, as well as five different interactive sessions were the highlights of Workforce Mobility Interactive 2017, Singapore, the regional invitation-only event for HR leaders and senior mobility specialists.

Organised by Human Resources, Workforce Mobility Interactive is back for the third year with the latest in talent mobility and expatriation trends in HR. This exclusive invite-only interactive event was specially curated for top HR leaders and mobility specialists to engage each other with strategies on staff mobility programmes.

Produced by Evon Yew and held on 14 February 2017 at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore, the conference is Asia’s largest discussion on expatriation. The event was attended by more than 100 delegates, speakers and sponsors.

WMI SG 2017

Kicking start the conference was Thomas Holenia, president of Henkel Singapore and managing director of the global supply chain hub in Singapore, Henkel, with a case study on German chemical and consumer goods company's approach to workforce mobility, and the opportunities and difficulties of moving talent within the Southeast Asia region.

Holenia revealed: "At Henkel, we provide our employees with five levels of support – relocation, allowance, benefits, moving support, miscellaneous."

Check out photos from the conference here.

After one the five interactive sessions of the day, Richard Willeter, director of corporate services for Crown World Mobility in Asia, took the stage to present a bird’s-eye view of the influence of trends such as patriotism and the gig economy on mobility.

Sharing some common mistakes to avoid, Willeter says: “The more policies you put in place, the more complex it is. Make sure technology is a help not a hinder. Have a long term strategy for technology.”

“DIY vs Duty of Care. By giving the choice to assignees, you do have a risk. Duty of care is not only about safety, it is also about them making the right choice for the assignment to be successful.”

 WMI SG 2017 Crown World Mobility

Following a quick tea break, delegates were treated to a presentation by David Wade, the deputy principal at Nexus International School (Singapore), who tackled the critical decision of choosing the right school for an expatriate’s children.

Apart from sharing the key differences between a local and an international school – and listing out what expats can consider as good outcomes and expectations from schooling in Singapore, a piece of advice Wade has for expat families is to visit the school before making a decision.

“Do not base decisions on reputation alone. As much as possible, involve the child in the process,” Wade says.

“Encourage the families to talk to the kids and teachers to understand what their child will be doing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Prepare questions in advance to ask the school.”

WMI SG 2017 Nexus

After a hearty lunch, it was time for an insightful panel discussion between Butch Clas, human resources director, SEA and ANZ, Dow Chemical Pacific; Elizabeth Keller, regional lead international mobility, Standard Chartered Bank; Martyna Wroblewska, international mobility centre manager, East Asia, Schneider Electric; and Robert Day, acting head of global immigration, Santa Fe Relocation Services - moderated by Christina Ng, vice-president, client services, BGRS Singapore.

Check out photos from the conference here.

Elizabeth Keller, regional lead international mobility, Standard Chartered Bank, reveals details about an upcoming mobility programme for transfer between 2 regions for 3-12 months. She explains: “The assignment will be based around a quantifiable project so we can see how successful they have been. It serves the dual purpose of tapping into existing talent from both regions, and also be able to get them out into another location.”

WMI SG 2017 panel

Another expert on a mission is Martyna Wroblewska, international mobility centre manager, East Asia, Schneider Electric, who talks about the firm’s regional programme for young graduates. “We put them on rotational functions for 6 months, then send them on an international assignment for 6 months,” he shares. However, the one issue they face? “From an immigration perspective, it’s very difficult to get work permits as these are fresh graduates.”

Check out photos from the conference here.

When it comes to ensuring returns on these assignments, many organisations turn to bonds.

For example, Keller from Standard Chartered Bank, reveals that the bank implements bond where the clawback is dependent on the individual and the assignment they are on. “Potentially everything that is paid out could be clawed back,” she reveals.

However, Butch Clas, human resources director, SEA and ANZ, Dow Chemical Pacific, warns that bonds can have an impact on employee motivation.

“Bonds are a double-edged sword”, Clas says,”it is a way to protect your investment, but doesn’t work as motivation for staff.”

WMI SG 2017 panel

When using mobility as a career development tool, the ideal situation is one where the assignee already has a role to return to once the assignment is complete. However, Christina Ng, vice-president, client services, BGRS Singapore notes, “if someone is going on a 5 year assignment, it might be difficult to define a role for them to come back as things would have changed by then.”

Check out photos from the conference here.

Compliance is an incredibly important part of any mobility assignment. Even when these assignments are just short term business trips.

“For business travel, be very careful of legal issues,” warns Robert Day, acting head of global immigration, Santa Fe Relocation Services. “It depends not just on period of time, but also the activity and its purpose.”

“It is difficult to manage the legislation as you have to be compliant across the globe when you travel,” Day adds.

WMI SG 2017 panel

To roundup the day, table hosts summarised the insights and key takeaways from their discussions on compliance and risk navigation, building a talent pipeline, redefining the expat package, getting your return on relocation, and employee orientation.

Human Resources would like to thank all sponsors and partners that contributed to the success of Workforce Mobility Interactive 2017, Singapore:

Gold sponsors • BGRS • Crown World Mobility • Nexus International School (Singapore)

Silver sponsors • Expat Insurance • Santa Fe Relocation Services • SIRVA

Exhibitors • Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) • Cartus • Frasers Hospitality • Goldbell Car Rental • Qxstate