How do Global Mobility Professionals demonstrate more Value?

 

Guest Post by Kevin Castro

In a survey commissioned in 2019 by Santa Fe Relocation Services and conducted by Savanta, a critical view is revealed on how and why Global Mobility teams need to take action to affect change. 

The findings suggest again that even now, not all stakeholders are aware of the full roles performed by Global Mobility and that there is an opportunity here to educate both internal and external stakeholders on the true future potential that Global Mobility brings to an organisation and its development. This is further underpinned by John Rason, Group Head of Consulting, Santa Fe Relocation, who identifies that: “Those of us working in the Global Mobility industry will tell you that it can be frustrating, challenging, complex—sometimes even scary. However, when executed well it can also be exciting, fulfilling…” 

You can request a copy of the report by clicking here

While Senior Leadership recognizes the role that GM professionals play in the organization, does it transcend to having real benefits for those supporting the company’s best talents i.e. not feeling under-resourced or undervalued?

Perhaps only for some. As GM professionals, how can we further demonstrate value in order to improve the team’s perception and thus influence how the organization provides support to the team? It is evident from the aforementioned quote that challenging, rewarding work is being done but not being recognized at all junctures. In fact, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international travel and thus international assignments and GM in general, Global Mobility teams have stepped up in a big way to manage and facilitate expats stranded in foreign countries, navigating complicated and unknown pathways to providing them essential support.

Such value should not go unappreciated. In light of that, I have listed four points, which I hope can help you and your teams increase your value in the organization:

1. Get a Seat at the Table 

Do you have Joint-Business Planning with your HR & Business Leaders? If none yet, you should start engaging them in order to better understand their goals, focus, and how you can support Talent Strategy. This may lead to an easier path in demonstrating your value to the business as you will get to know how and where to play towards their goals. Does your company do assignee pre-screening, where you determine the suitable candidates for the international assignments? If not, this is something that you can explore and introduce. If done right, you avoid the pitfalls of selecting the wrong people. 

2. Communicate Your Value, Regularly and Consistently

Do you consistently communicate what you have achieved, the projects you initiated? Ensure that you communicate the things that you do and how you have supported the business. In a study by Cartus in 2016, a global relocation services provider, it found out that 54% of companies lack focus on tracking and reporting on assignments. Hence, it is high time to gather that data (assignment success, costs, the return on investment, assignees feedback, etc.) and have a regular newsletter, blog post or presentation at your next strategy and planning meeting. As my clients always ask, how will I know if the expat assignment is successful? A report should be presented in order to communicate such info. 

3. Demonstrate Why Your Expertise Matters

You are the expert, and you should try to demonstrate this frequently. You can do this through sharing GM insights, trends, and how these contribute to business or talent strategy. If the opportunity is available to increase your global mobility expertise through having certification and further studies. GM organizations and consultancy organizations provide certifications/courses, where you can further deepen your mobility knowledge. For example, Global People Transitions offers the FlyMe! Program, a career coaching geared towards Global Mobility Professionals.

An academic course to certify you as a “Global Mobility Advisor” is available with Expatise Academy in collaboration with Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

4. Be Flexible and Agile 

In previous years, the goal was to ensure that you arrange logistics and meet compliance needs, which are more transactional. In today’s world, the role expands and you are now viewed by the business as a strategic partner not merely as administrators. You should always understand what is important to the business. Today, the focus may be costs, but it might be something else in three months time. Keep your eyes and ears open for this and be agile and flexible.

In addition, as practitioners (in-house or outsourced) you should also be aware of trends in terms of mobility practices and service delivery.  You can start by looking at how technology affects the delivery. Do all assignees adapt to these changes, or do we provide omnichannel delivery? What do other companies do?  Such questions might lead you to new service delivery models or enhancement.

I hope these four points will prove to be beneficial for you and will help your team to push more value to the organization. So, don’t forget to get a seat, market your value, be the expert and be agile and flexible.

I remember a conversation with my previous boss, where he shared with me that HR is a cost-generating function, so it might sometimes receive smaller budgets (e.g. hiring additional headcount, higher bonus, etc.). However, HR’s role has transformed itself from a back-office support function into a more strategic business partner. This principle should also apply on Global Mobility regardless of where it is structured in the company. In fact, as the Santa Fe survey points out, Global Mobility is now increasingly connecting more formally with broader HR and Centres of Excellence subjects such as: workforce planning, innovative policies and advisory services (to both executive management and employees).

To summarise, in today’s world, Global Mobility Teams are and will continue to become more valuable than ever!

P.S Sign up for FlyMe! now. If you would like to become a Global Mobility Specialist or deepen your knowledge, improve your skill set and build your professional network at the same time, this program is for you. Read in details below.

 

Kevin Castro is a Filipino by birth, who lived in Singapore for almost 8 years and is now residing in Zurich. A Global Mobility Professional, with experience in Mobility Operations, HR Services, Project & Supplier Management, and Customer Service. He is currently learning German and at the same time enjoying cooking & curating travel experiences.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-castro-37010a49/

Why we Need to Push for More Minority and Female Expats in Global Mobility

Are you a Senior Manager or a Global Mobility Professional, perhaps the Manager of the Global Mobility Program in your company?

How many times have you had the realization that your Global Mobility Program is not diverse enough? Are you concretely working to achieve your company’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) goals and do you foster more inclusion within your own team?

Let’s see together how you can actively help to fill the current gap in diversity seen across organizations.

What is a “diverse and inclusive organization”? 
An organization is diverse when it encompasses all aspects of the employees from age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, family status, and background. However, an organization is also inclusive when minority groups really participate in the decision-making process and contribute to breaking the career glass ceiling. Besides being meaningless, diversity without inclusion does not drive team performance either (Czerny and Steinkellner, 2009). To quote the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, “inclusive diversity is a strength.”

Why do we Need More Minority and Female Talent in Global Mobility?

A KPMG survey highlighted that the majority of Global Mobility Programs do not have specific Diversity and Inclusion objectives as part of their department’s strategy. But why is that?

According to 59% of the respondents, the reason is that candidates for international assignments are chosen by the business unit, and not Global Mobility. This is true, however, why should you not encourage the business line to include more minority and female talent in their selection. Should your role not be to challenge the business when they always promote and select the same kind of talent?

Another 31% consider the movement of people to new countries and cultures as diverse and inclusive by its very nature and do not think that further D&I goals are needed. We think this is too short-sighted and a biased view of the world. Diversity and Inclusion at this stage needs to be more than affirmative action. We need to actively push to integrate more minority and female talent into our expat populations.

What you consider a minority will depend strongly on your home base country, usually the country where your HQ is based. However, I strongly recommend that you consider more second generation immigrants, People of Color (PoC) and refugees.

Only 41% of the respondents say they have D&I objectives as part of their Global Mobility department strategy.

You certainly have acknowledged that meeting these goals is not easy. Here are the common challenges faced by most Global Mobility Programs.

1 – There’s a Data Gap on Most Aspects of Diversity

Apart from gender and gender identity, there is a  scarcity of mobility-related data on most demographics (KPMG, 2018a). This makes it difficult for Global Mobility Teams to identify problem areas and solutions related not only to religion, ethnicity and disability status, but also educational, professional and socio-economic backgrounds.

2 – There are Still too Many Biases and Stereotypes

As you can easily guess, this issue particularly affects how women are represented within the international mobile population. Currently, women only make up from 20% to 25% of it (PwC, 2016; MacLachlan, 2018), which shows how much more work is needed to fill the gap.

The good news is that 88% of the women (PwC, 2016) feel that they need international experience to advance in their careers. The bad news is that there is a strong perception that women with children don’t want to work abroad. To make it worse, traditional mindsets still typically associate men with international assignments.

Interestingly, however, data doesn’t say the same. 66% of women would be happy to work abroad at any stage of their career (vs 60% for men), and only 17% of women cited the well-being and education of their children as a concern preventing them from embarking on an international assignment (vs 22% of men).

How many times have you consciously or unconsciously assumed that someone would not be able to perform their jobs effectively due to the situation in host locations? Or that they simply would not want to go on assignment due to family constraints, for example? Before assuming, just ask.

When I was sent on an STA to India in 2006 I had to ask for it and there weren’t many women on assignment at the time. There was a general assumption that it would be harder for a woman to perform in India and yes, sometimes we were separated from the men, which was very unusual for me at the time and I felt at a disadvantage. However, I would still consider that I had a successful assignment and managed to work through a lot of issues just by being there in person. 

3 – There’s a Lack of Transparency over who is Assigned and why

Let’s look at gender again. Data speaks loud and clear, and it’s worrying.

According to 42% of women (PwC, 2016), organisations  don’t have a clear view of employees who would be willing to be internationally mobile. This means that you may be choosing from a narrower pool than necessary.

What’s more, only 13% of women who have been on assignment said that their employer has a program that positions Global Mobility as a core part of an employee’s career plan.

Later in my career, I noticed that I was never asked again for opportunities in other countries – I always had to push for them. One time I turned down an STA to the Middle East (for the wrong reasons in hindsight) but the fact that even progressing iteven progressing it to an offer took a lot of persistence and relationship management. My assumption was that if I accepted the STA during a core restructuring program, my team in the home country would suffer from my absence, so I stayed. One year later though, with the next restructuring, things changed again. I had already moved on to start my own company. Now I wish I had taken the STA.

4 – There’s a Lack of Flexibility in Assignment Choices

You might not know that shorter and more flexible short-term assignments are notably more popular among women than men (PwC, 2016). In particular, women tend to give favourable consideration to frequent business travel based in the home country, fly-in/fly-out commuter assignments, short (6-12 months), and very short-term assignments (less than 6 months). If you expand the list of available options, you can match a wide variety of business demands.

Most companies are now frantically working on expanding their toolbox and traveler types. We know that we will have more work with these kinds of constructions but we also need to be aware that this is the future of Global Mobility. As I mentioned in the Global Mobility Workbook (2019) we are expanding our scope and this will not only help minority and female talent but also us as a function.

5 – There’s a Lack of Diversity Among the Pool of Candidates

In traditionally male-dominated types of work, such as construction and mining, casting a wider demographic net may be impossible. Likewise, some candidates may not go after mobility opportunities because they feel they are out of place. This explains why, for example, women, older workers and people with disabilities may not raise their hands for relocations to oil rigs or construction sites. At the same time, minority groups may feel discouraged because they lack role models.

This is a general issue when you are ‘junior’. Interestingly, I have seen very good initiatives in the construction industry to overcome stereotypes against gender roles in countries normally associated with those very stereotypes. LafargeHolcim has great programs for women in countries like the Philippines, for example.

6  – There are Barriers Posed by External Factors

The definition of family has expanded to include same-sex couples for most mobility teams — rising from 17% in 1999 to 70% currently (KPMG, 2018a). However,  attitudes and laws in many countries have not kept pace. A majority of countries don’t allow same-sex marriage, and homosexual acts are illegal in over 70 countries. According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, there are still 10 countries where people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgendered or transsexual (LGBQT+) can be put to death.

Still, I know several gay couples who had successful assignments to countries where societal attitudes and laws are not wholly favorable. We just need to find the right arguments and then we often end up finding solutions to these external barriers. For example, with good immigration lawyers you stand a chance of getting work visas for both partners in a same-sex relationship. Public conduct and private conduct may differ significantly. In Africa and some Asian countries men holding hands is seen as normal in public. What happens inside the apartment is often private. What is harder to overcome, in my view, are gender identity and racist issues as they are more visible than sexual orientation. 

How can you Benefit From Being More Inclusive?

Even though it may seem that the global business case for boosting Diversity and Inclusion is clear, the reality is still shockingly stuck in the last century. I even observe that we have gone back three steps in supporting minority and female talent over the last 25 years.

In my view, if you want to expand your global competitiveness, you need to be a pioneer of equal opportunities, promote acceptance and understanding, and highlight the value of each of your employees. You need more than unconscious bias training for managers. You need to establish facts. And facts are only established with data. Here are the four main reasons to establish D&I goals for your Global Mobility Program.

1 – You Tap Into a Bigger Pool of Resources

Establish concrete goals for sending minority and female talent and persistently work towards achieving them. You will then automatically broaden the pool of talent from which the mobile population is drawn. This way, you will also help ensure that the executive pipeline reflects your customer base, developing a more diverse group of future leadership. Report the data regularly to your Senior Management. Without data, nothing will change.

2 – You Control Costs Better

One of the main mobility cost drivers is not related to pay packages and policies as such but to the fact that companies often have a limited choice of candidates for assignments. A broader talent pool facilitates assignment success and indirectly helps control costs better. You depend less on only one candidate and can negotiate better packages if you have a broader pool. You probably also have better candidates if you have more than one in the pipeline.

3 – You Improve Your Brand and Reputation as an Employer of Choice

Having international experience is nowadays a precondition to reach top managerial levels within many multinational companies. Employees develop essential skills and build a network that boosts their careers immensely. It’s therefore important that you promote mobility as part of your talent brand. If you do that, you will also be advantaged when competing for minority and female talent. In your reviews and competition for being an “Employer of Choice”, offering international opportunities to minority and female talent will put you ahead of the competition.

4 – You do What is Appropriate in 2020

In times of crisis, #blacklivesmatter, #metoo and refugees being part of our workforce, we need to take a stance and stand up for minority and female talent. Who knows, had my employer sent me to Dubai in 2011, I may still have been there today. In January, I made a commitment to hire at least one professional from a minority group or from a country I am not familiar with at all. I’m hoping to challenge myself against my biases and assumptions. It’s a baby step, but you can do this too.

If you wish to discuss how to make your team or your Global Mobility program more attractive for minority and female talent, please contact angela@globalpeopletransitions.com directly for a proposal.

We also offer RockMe!, a coaching program for expats which can help minority and female talent define their global career goals and follow through with them.

Resources 

https://www-srf-ch.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.srf.ch/article/18661443/amp 

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/5/18/21260209/facebook-sheryl-sandberg-interview-lean-in-women-coronavirus

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2020/06/three-degrees-racism-america/613333/

References

Czerny, E. J. & Steinkellner, P. S. (2009). Diversität als Basis erfolgreicher Teams. Eine ressourcenorientierte Betrachtung. Unpublished Working Paper, Vienna: PEF Privatuniversität für Management.  

Human Rights Campaign Foundation. (2019, Sep. 23). World Report 2019: Human Rights Watch Country Profiles: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://www.hrw.org/video-photos/interactive/2019/02/28/human-rights-watch-country-profiles-sexual-orientation-and

KPMG. (2018a). Inclusion and Diversity: How Global Mobility can help move the Needle. KPMG. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle-FINAL.pdf

KPMG. (2018b). Inclusion and Diversity in Global Mobility. KPMG. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle.pdf

Maclachlan, M. (2018; Mar.). Why Female Talent Are the Future of Global Mobility. Learnlight. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://insights.learnlight.com/en/articles/female-talent-future-global-mobility/

PwC. (2016). Women of the world: Aligning gender diversity and international mobility in financial services. Pwc. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/industries/financial-services/assets/women-of-the-world.pdf

Every Expat and Spouse Should have the Best Experience – Why we Need to Transform Global Mobility
Posted on

Over the last twenty years in Human Resources, I noticed that a lot of international talents were frustrated in the process of moving to another country for work. It was not only because their companies paid them another package than what they expected. It was also because a lot of international assignees underestimated the challenge of moving to another country.

For example, expats moving to Switzerland often think it will be easier to find affordable childcare, high-quality apartments, and a job for their “trailing” spouse. Most expats believe it will be easy to learn the local language (or they even think we speak English). Most expats believe that they are going to have a great career step after their repatriation. I have seen a lot of anger when assignees went to another country and when they returned home and did not get that promotion or the role they were hoping for.

Regularly, I have clients break out in tears because they feel overwhelmed by the international assignment experience. When I worked in India and when I moved to Switzerland from Germany it was not always just “Cricket & Bollywood” or “Cheese & Chocolate”.

 

Five Gaps in the Global Mobility Approach

There are five gaps in the Global Mobility approach and I think this is true across industries and countries.

  1. Expats are often selected on an ad-hoc basis and intercultural competence is hardly ever taken into account in the selection process. Female Expats are still greatly underrepresented.
  2. International assignments hardly ever have a- business case showing assignment drivers, measurable targets, expected gains, growth opportunities, assignment costs and a repatriation plan for the expat.
  3. Most companies lack succession plans where repatriates could be included with their future roles and often expats are overlooked when it comes to filling roles in headquarters or when promotions are due.
  4. Global Mobility Professionals are hardly ever considered strategic partners of the business. They are often just seen as administrators of the process while the decisions about who is going where are taken solely by the business.
  5. The Expat Family is hardly considered in the Global Mobility Approach. Only a few forward-thinking companies offer career support for spouses. I have not seen any company who helps with educational considerations and advice for the Expat Children. Relocation companies only give minimal support and hardly understand the concerns of globally mobile parents. Most relocation consultants have never moved to another country in their lives.

There are also five global trends that have made Global Mobility more difficult in the last 10 years.

Budget cuts due to the Coronavirus Pandemic

The financial impact of the global coronavirus pandemic has yet to be fully calculated, though McKinsey and the BBC have presented analysis based on the available datasets and the outlook is bleak. Combine that with the fact that the world was still recovering from the worldwide financial crisis of 2008 and you realize how deep the effects are. With both crises, it has been observed that travel and expat budgets get reduced to a minimum. With the current pandemic, especially, that has left Expats stranded, with their support system from the employer vanishing. The Expat Experience coming out of this COVID-19 driven financial crisis – will get worse.

Many Expats and Repatriates are finding themselves unemployed in their respective home countries. We also see that companies are struggling to sustain, with even large organizations filing for bankruptcy (like Virgin Australia). More are merging or getting acquired. Even those that have managed to transition to a work from home structure have had to downsize, with the working employees not guaranteed fixed working hours, which means that job security for all staff is non-existent. Especially in the EU, many countries are new to this kind of unstable job market and do not yet have the tools and systems in place to allow their workforce to work fluidly and flexibly from anywhere. Cherished and spoilt expats dwell on the verge of desperation because they have been made redundant, even if they may not be at the end of their contract.

Local Plus is the New Black

Other expats receive a local contract without really understanding what that means for their social security, long-term pension and often they do not know that their work and residence permit depends on their employer too. Employers find “Local Plus” convenient but they do not really consider all the risks these moves entail because many business decisions in the last ten years are driven by controllers.

The Talent Gap

We now lack the critically needed talent in important growth areas. Programmers and engineers are examples of professionals that are in high demand.- There is certainly a mismatch and gap between demand and supply. There are a number of reasons related to the sourcing process as well. Recruiting has become a science and needs to go through a transformation. Recruiters need to learn to cope with the demand and supply in a globalized market of talents. Check out Avoiding Global Talent Acquisition Failure – Six Basics To Add to Your Recruiting Guideline. Language is still one of the main barriers to an influx of highly skilled migrants in Europe. Even though we launched the green card and blue card initiative we have not managed to attract the potential and talent needed within the EU for example in IT.

Health and Security Concerns Hinder Free Movement

Security concerns are growing in Global Mobility. Expats frequently face acts of terrorism, natural disasters, mugging and burglary as well as health issues. Check out Global TV Talk to gain perspective on this. While often the issues are normal in the local environment they can also be inflated disproportionately in our media. The images we have of countries such as Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan to name a few make it hard to convince families to work in these countries. Each terrorist act — in Istanbul, Jakarta, Tunis, Paris or Beirut will reduce the willingness of expat families to move into these cities even though expats probably have the best security support you can have in these locations.

Global Migration Challenges

Look back to 2015, the year global migration became pop culture. The term “refugee crisis” was coined in Europe. Even though we have had proportionately more refugees coming to Europe since the Arab spring started in 2011 in Tunisia, we all had more interaction with refugees since 2015. While I am personally concerned about the right-wing propaganda, I do understand that the intercultural and societal challenges of integrating refugees at least temporarily are considerable. – I am concerned about discriminatory practices in Recruiting and Global Mobility. In 2020, global migration faces another challenge in the form of the travel restrictions that have been imposed on the entire world by the highly infectious COVID-19. Many countries are not letting in any people, especially those on temporary visas (such as temporary work visas). Delays in paperwork processing due to shutdowns, mandatory quarantine periods and more means that a highly qualified international workforce has been robbed of all mobility.

All of this has led to Global Mobility being flawed, expats not able to go on international assignments anymore and overwhelmed GM Professionals who feel the pressure from all ends as they are in the firing line of assignees, business line, talent, HR and Finance managers. In addition to having been undervalued, overworked and squeezed by their interest groups, classical Global Mobilitytasks have been outsourced to Third-Party Service Providers and Shared Service Centers, or put on indefinite hold for those organizations that have stood down their employees and halted operations.

Working in Global Mobility used to be a career dead-end and a Sisyphian task. We roll up the stone assignee by assignee only to see it roll down again. We run KPI report after KPI report only to be told that no one knows what we are doing or who we are. We are often managed by HR Directors who don’t get us. We are online 24/7, involved in GM improvement projects, listen to depressed spouses in our evenings and do not get the promotion or salary we deserve.

But there is hope. I am not willing to give up. Yet.

We see the change in Global Mobility.

The more complex our global markets become, the more we need to reevaluate our assumptions of how we run Global Mobility

We need global leadership competency in our international talents and if they do not have it yet we need to send them out on long-term assignments earlier in their career. We should force expats to learn the local language and coach them through the Expat  Experience. Intercultural briefings are not enough anymore.

We need to ensure that there is a- Global Mobility Business Case showing assignment drivers and targets, expected gains or opportunities, assignment costs, and a repatriation plan. I explain this at length in “The Global Mobility Workbook (2019)” and my lectures.

We need to implement succession plans and add our current assignees as potential successors. We need to ensure that the knowledge, skills, and network they gain while on assignment is appropriately reflected in their following role and repatriation plan. We also need to ensure better handovers to their successors in the host location.

We need to upgrade the GM Profession- and the GM function needs to sit closer to business development and potentially move out of HR. We need to up-skill the case managers and train GM Professionals for a consultative approach where they can work as trusted partners with the business line managers.

We need to consider the Expat Family in the process more by providing spouse career support, elderly care and educational advisory. We also should offer 24/7 support to our expat families in crisis situations such as marital issues. A helpline to professional counsellors is needed.

What I believe in and what makes me get up in the morning:

  • I believe that Western managers of my generation and the baby boomer generation have to develop their relationship-building skills before becoming effective leaders of global teams. The performance of most global teams can only improve through higher global leadership competency following a holistic global competency model.
  • I believe that a great Expat Experience is linked to assignment targets, an international assignment business case and a repatriation plan and also to the Human Touch.
  • I believe that companies will focus more on creating succession plans and ensure that roles are filled in a more structured manner, handovers improved and teams will function more self-managed going forward. Leadership itself will change significantly.
  • I believe that GM Professionals have the potential to become critical players in the international growth of businesses post-crisis and are valued more as the subject matter experts that they are. They will move out of HR and be closer to business development.
  • I believe that assignees and spouses need to have a valuable intercultural experience and both can further their career and life vision together. Expat children need support in moving from one culture to another and even though they might be multilingual at the end of their school life, they have to cope with identity loss and loss of their roots.

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FlyMe! – Boost Your Global Mobility Career in 180 Days 

Globe and Covid19
The Smell of the Big, Wide World awaits you.

The Smell of The Big Wide World Where Adventure Awaits You

It’s Monday morning at 8 AM and instead of starting your laptop to go through another uninspired day of filling forms online and playing appointment bullshit bingo with your colleagues you look at the map of the world that is hanging in your home office. You have been home too long and you wish to smell the spices in a market in Amritsar, walk through the East village of New York City, sit in a rickshaw in Lahore or go on a hike in Northern Italy.

The big wide world, it’s never been so hard to get access to it. You are thinking about moving into the field of Global Mobility because this might at least give you the option to feel connected to the wider world than your home village.

You have experience in the relocation industry and you sometimes feel that you are not entirely clear on basic knowledge of Global Mobility which would help you to serve your clients better. Recently, you have considered that being a Subject Matter Expert in one area of Global Mobility might be a good career path for you but you are not yet sure which area you would enjoy most.

You have lived in your home village for most of your life and you would like to get a job that you can take to other countries. You would like to deepen your knowledge of other cultures and work in a global context where you speak English most of the time.

You Could Join us and Become a Global Mobility Specialist

If you would like to become a Global Mobility Specialist or deepen your knowledge, improve your skill set and build your professional network at the same time, this program is for you. FlyMe! helps you to understand the world of Global Mobility and even gives you insights into intercultural collaboration. Being part of the global network of the Expatise Academy™ we will not only help you technically, you can also book individual coaching sessions with Angie Weinberger in case you feel stuck or need advice from an industry Yoda. You will also have access to other industry experts and meet colleagues based in other countries than your home market.

FlyMe! Boost Your Career in Global Mobility in the next 180 days.

Angie Weinberger wrote the FlyMe! content which is essentially a digital version of the Global Mobility Workbook (2019). From us you will receive a weekly chapter with homework. In addition we give you 12 months access to our #RockMeApp. The #RockMeApp is an online platform for our clients where you define your career goals, learning targets and weekly practices. You are also invited to a weekly reflection exercise. Angie Weinberger reviews your input and will give you pointers on how to work on your Global Mobility career.

You can also buy coaching sessions with Angie Weinberger as per our Terms and Conditions.

FlyMe! is included in the Expatise Academys New Program for Relocation Professionals and GM Newbies. You will receive a EUR 200 discount if you sign up before 30 June 2020. You just have to mention “GPT” when you sign up.

https://www.expatise.academy/comprehensive-courses/hr-gm-for-relocation-professionals/

The regular tuition fee amounts to EUR 1’950 + VAT per participant.

 

The Full Program includes:

  • A 12-months license to the use of the online Global Mobility certification course © by Expatise Publishers with video and audio lessons, Q&A tests, topical libraries and peer communities.
  • A 12-months license to the use of the MemoTrainerApp © ANewSpring;
  • A digital copy of the Expatise Handbook for Global Mobility Professionals © by Expatise Publishers;
  • A 12-months license to the use of the FlyMe! program © by Angie Weinberger;
  • A 12-months license to the use of the RockMeApp © by Angie Weinberger;
  • A Certification and EC-registration,
  • The membership of the Expatise Alumni Network.

Additionally, the participant can opt for extension of this program with six one-hour live webinars with our lecturers for EUR 210 + VAT. VAT will be applied where appropriate. Expatise Academy will set up live webinars depending on demand.

Click here to sign up and for queries.

Avoiding Assignment Failure through Family Issues – Seven Key Provisions for Your Global Mobility Guidelines – Part 2
Family Separation

Last week we talked about how family challenges and marital issues greatly impact the outcome of international assignments. We also saw that a large number of companies list  Expat Spouse’s unhappiness as the primary cause of Expat Failure, highlighting the importance of Expat Spouse career support programs. This week, we will talk more extensively about the kind of support you can give to Dual-Career Expat Couples and why that matters if you work in HR and Global Mobility.

I have always advocated for Global Mobility Managers to be more proactive about involving Expat Spouses. Sometimes I sound like a broken record though. Anyway it’s 2020 so I reiterate what I’ve been repeating for years.

We want to be proactive!

The days of the passive “trailing spouse”, when they were marginally involved in any decision of moving abroad, are definitely gone. Today, according to the 2018 Relocating Partner Survey, 97% of mobile employees actively involve their partners in the discussion before accepting an assignment, so why shouldn’t you?

We want to be inclusive!

Employers cite a variety of reasons for supporting Dual-Career Expat Couples via policy and practice. The primary reason is to increase staff mobility. Some employers also do it to reduce the costs of assignment refusal or early return and promote family friendly policies. Others want to support diversity or gender initiatives.

One figure in particular stands out in the latest KPMG report: 39%. This indicates the percentage of surveyed companies pointing out that sexual orientation is the main demographic reason leading an employee to refuse an assignment. But 39% is also the percentage of companies indicating that the employees’ dependents impact their decisions to accept an assignment. Perhaps, in your career as GMM, you too have witnessed these scenarios and you aim now at broadening the pool of talent by making it more diverse and inclusive. 

Here is how you can still help your company achieve its Diversity and Inclusion goals, improving brand, reputation and global market competitiveness.

  • Review the demographics of your global mobility team based on diversity and change policies accordingly.
  • Diversify international assignment terms. 
  • Adjust policies for selecting candidates.
  • Broaden communication about opportunities.
  • Extend leadership training to Global Mobility to reduce unconscious bias.

We want to bring back the Human Touch!

What you can do to help Expats and Expat Spouses is to ease the external stressors to their relationship caused by the international assignment. Most importantly, take the Expat Spouse seriously!

Here are seven provisions you can take up in your guidelines.

1 – Review all your Global Mobility Guidelines

Today’s mobile employees are no longer interested exclusively in the financial aspect of their international assignment package. They are also very concerned about the impact of the move on  their spouses’ careers while abroad. This is a consequence of the increased levels of equality within the couple: 77% of Expat Spouses work before the assignment and 82% of them secure a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD degree (2018 Relocating Partner Survey). In short, the current mobile population won’t accept being treated like their predecessors. 

Even if 62% of employers wish to encourage employee acceptance of an assignment by offering support to Expat Spouses, most employees are still frustrated by what employers are offering today.

An increasing number of Dual-Career Expat Couples depend on the income of their spouses during international transfers. Today, dividing Expat Spouses in the “working” and the “non-working” categories does not match reality anymore, especially with the whole new range of possibilities that smart working opens up. Employers should therefore ensure that their partner policies support these choices equally for working and non-working partners in order to avoid any form of discrimination.

According to a report published by Permits Foundations in 2012, only 33% of the companies surveyed provided career support to Expat Spouses under a formal written policy. Another 11% had informal guidelines, while 27% of them gave assistance on a case-by-case basis. 29% provided no support at all. 

With a partner support policy in place you will more easily become a more attractive employer.

2 – Involve the Expat Spouse in the  Pre-Assignment Phase

During this phase, there are probably lots of questions going on in the Expat Spouse’s head, and feelings of euphoria and anxiety often alternate with each other. They might be wondering what impact the move will have on their children and whether they will be able to find employment in the new country. It is part of your role of Global Mobility Manager to offer early career assessment for the Expat Spouse as well as information on international schooling options. Additionally, since Expat Spouses are often in charge of the logistics behind the move, it is very important that you are able to connect them with relocation services and immigration providers ahead of the move.

3 – Help with the Work Permit

Nowadays, Expat Spouses are allowed to work on a dependent work permit in the vast majority of the top host locations accounting for 80% of today’s global mobility (2018 Relocating Partner Survey). This huge achievement is fruit of the Permits Foundation, which fights for the rights of relocating partners to be able to work on their dependent permit. 

However, some countries present exceptions and subtleties linked to marital status. Non-married partners from opposite sexes as well as same sex couples face more challenges accessing work permits. In countries which do not allow Expat Spouses to work, securing a work permit is almost impossible.

It is therefore your duty to help Expat Spouses navigate the world of bureaucracy specific to each individual assignment. 

4 – Research Work Opportunities for Expat Spouses

Career stagnation is a major stressor to any relationship. Therefore, as one way to avoid putting the success of assignments in jeopardy, your employer could provide work opportunities to the Expat Spouse if they work in a similar field or area. What I’m also doing is to check with other companies if they have availability for the Expat Spouse especially when they work in a related field.

In this initial exploratory phase, it is also important to verify that the Expat Spouse’s degree is in line with what recruiters expect to see in the host country: qualifications obtained in one country are not necessarily recognised in another.

The 2018 Relocating Partner surveys highlights how career and job search support is now offered by 71% of employers, a sharp increase in comparison to previous data.

5 – Provide Transition Coaching For The Expat Couple

Coaching for the Expat Couple is also an option. In my experience it is also helpful if one person of the couple is going through a coaching program. Your  company should take over the cost within the Global Mobility guidelines. Companies offer Expat Spouse Career and Life Support programs to assist Expat Spouses. Most Swiss-based companies provide up to 7’000 CHF in services. This is a lot of money! We provide a full career coaching program with HireMe! for CHF 3’500 + VAT.  

Transition coaching for Expats and Expat Spouses is becoming a more and more prominent concept in companies around the world. As a Global Mobility Manager, you already probably know that supporting Expats and Expat Spouses through each different adjustment stage they experience leads to a higher satisfaction rate with the assignment and the service of Global Mobility in general. 

The sad part is that Expat Couples often don’t claim support as they haven’t seen the GM policy and have not been involved in the decision-making process.

6 – Offer Host Language Course

The most common forms of assistance already in place addressing spouse career concerns are language training, provided by almost two-thirds of employers (Permits Foundation, 2012). If there is a business need, companies generally pay for a 60 hour-course.

7 – Pay for Support for Children and Teenagers

Not only Expats and Expat Spouses, but their children too, need support during the assignment. After all, children are the most critical asset in the expatriation process. One of the tools you can offer them is intercultural training, especially if the children are in local schools. Giving training to Expat Children has a lot of value, and you will see that once you make the children happy, you will have a higher ROI, higher retention rate and a better Expat satisfaction rate in your KPIs.

When Family Separation is the Best Option!

Sometimes, things just don’t work out and the result of that international assignment is a family separation. There are also instances where it is better for the Expat Spouse and potential children to stay in the home country. One reason could be schooling, another reason health and safety. Consult with me if you have any questions around how can bring the #HumanTouch back into your Global Mobility Program and Team.

Kind Regards,

Angie.

HireMe! and The Global Career Workbook

We developed the HireMeExpress” program to support your Expat Spouses to find a job in a new country. We mainly focus on Switzerland but many parts of HireMe! and “The Global Career Workbook” work in many expat hubs from Berlin to Bombay.

References:

KPMG. (2018a). „Inclusion and Diversity: How Global Mobility can help move the Needle”, KPMG. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle-FINAL.pdf

KPMG. (2018b). „Inclusion and Diversity in Global Mobility”, KPMG. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle.pdf

NetExpat & EY. (2018). Relocating Partner Survey Report. https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/ey-2018-relocating-partner-survey-final-report/$File/ey-2018-relocating-partner-survey-final-report.pdf

Permits Foundation. (2012). International Mobility and Dual-Career Survey of International Employers. https://www.permitsfoundation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Permits+Global+Survey+2012nw.pdf

The Brexit Effect: How Global Mobility is Being Impacted in Europe and Beyond

Recent legislative and policy changes in many countries around the world seem to be signaling a global shift from open market to a form of protectionism. Today, I would like to discuss what exactly this is and how it impacts everyone in Global Mobility, using the example of an upheaval close to us: the dreaded Brexit.

Before we delve into Brexit, let’s take a look first at how open market policies were and still are beneficial to Global Mobility.

Open Markets and Free Trade

It all boils down to the fact that free trade agreements specifically include concessions for mobility. Combined with reduced taxes and government programs to encourage foreign investments, this literally opened the door for GM professionals to successfully ply their trade in different countries. Another step later down in this pipeline is the streamlining of visas and entry requirements – all things that promote the movement of skilled professionals across borders.

Brexit: An End to Unrestricted Movement

The political machinations that led to the UK deciding to part ways with the EU, that is, Brexit, have been discussed far and wide and I will not be going over them. If you are looking to brush up on it, the NY Times and BBC have good summaries here and here, respectively. Relevant to this discussion is the fact that the British people have been promised that Brexit would mean an end to the EU’s famed free movement, that is, the right of people from mainland Europe to live and work in Britain. This is a form of protectionism, the term mentioned earlier. Protectionism refers to the economic curtailing of foreign imports through tariffs, quotas, and other governmental policies. Cutting down on the import of foreign workers falls under it, in direct opposition to the free movement that made the EU a unique success story in world history.

Common sense identifies this as a detrimental idea, not only to GM professionals but to long-term economic stability and growth, yet so few speak up against it – the very fact that Brexit is happening is evidence of that fact. Why is that so?

Fear-based Politics Is a Tool of Suppression

A major reason for that is the fear-mongering stoked by politicians, particularly about how immigration and immigrants “steal” the jobs of the locals – this belief is particularly strong among the working class who rally behind all attempts to close down free movement. Unfortunately, this spread of fear works on everyone, at various levels, especially in these times of economic hardship, it is easy to buy into the idea that immigrants are responsible for the worsening economy or the lack of jobs. No one likes to step out of their comfort zone, especially to speak up about uncomfortable topics.

The result? While Brexit has been lingering for years, the political uncertainty it has led to is already creating ripples across the GM community. Companies will be faced with increasingly challenging situations when seeking to move the talent they want, into the location where they are needed most.

Many companies are moving out of or planning to move out of the UK, taking with them hundreds of thousands of jobs from locals. Clearly not the best-case scenario.

This unpredictability is not limited merely to the immigration aspects of Global Mobility, as taxation and exchange of information would become increasingly sophisticated, making it more difficult for companies and authorities to work out and resolve issues of governance and tax payment. A potential problem that arises from this unpredictability is not knowing how the UK will treat its laws and legislation dealing with worker rights, taxation and other aspects that were based on relevant sections of EU law. That is something troubling corporations and experts in finances, taxation and mobility alike.

Another factor determining why we haven’t been more outspoken about the ramifications of politics on our field is the overabundance of fake news. When someone’s statement is countered with aggressively presented “facts”, the people believing in those “facts” can end up influencing others and drowning out our voice of reason.

Does anyone remember the infamous “Brexit Bus”? Despite being proven to be a falsehood, that “fact” is considered one of the major reasons the Brexit referendum was won by Leave. Despite people speaking up about the falsehood of that “fact”, the Brexit Bus still swayed millions with its lie. How does one make themselves heard in such a scenario?

Echoes of Brexit Around the World

Brexit and EU are not the only places where this tidal wave of fear-based politics and misinformation have had an impact on Global Mobility. In March 2018, Australia ended one of its most popular work visas for global professionals with claims that the visa was taking jobs away from Australians, replacing it with one that was a lot more stricter on professionals and companies alike. The USA’s stance towards the mobility of foreigners is also of note, targeting millions of Muslims from around the world, and about the same number from south of their border through the implementation of various “travel bans”. These policies have been crucial in disrupting nearly all companies that source their talent globally.

As these roadblocks mount, we are faced with a unique, ever-growing challenge of navigating political opposition to its core tenant and unpredictable laws that can spring up at any moment. Given this uncertainty, what we can do at this turbulent time is developing a series of rapid response protocols/procedures that allow us to stay on top of these shifts while carving out a longer-term plan for navigating these changing political waters.

We need to stay relevant

As mentioned by Tracy Figliola and Gina Vecchio in their excellent article “Global Mobility Coming of Age” (The International HR Adviser, Winter 2019/2020) we are currently at the crossroads of extinction or expansion of our profession. As I’ve been working on expanding our skillset and mindset over the last few years, I would certainly hope that we step up our game this year.

If we want to continue adding value as a function we need to show through our actions that we are finding solutions to all those ever more complex issues. I usually hold back my political opinion here and on social media for fear of attracting trolls and haters but I committed yesterday to support “outsiders” more, and to work with an even more diverse team in 2020.

We need to think big and start with baby steps at our own front yard. For example, I will work with an intern from Africa this year. My clients come from around the world but we can still do more to encourage global competency development and break down the barriers to Global Mobility. We can set examples and work on positive changes in our realm of influence whether we are expats, expat entrepreneurs, scientists or Global Mobility Professionals.

Are you in? If yes, what are you committing to do more of in 2020? Write back to me with one sentence only.

Kind regards,

Angie.

PS: As a lecturer and Expatise Academy Advisory Board member I recommend the Master Course in Global Mobility at Erasmus University. As the Registration deadline is approaching you should decide fast and read more here.
My lecture and workshop are on 31 March 2020 and zooms in on “Branding the Global Mobility Profession”.