Tag Archives: globalmobility
A bird

I lay awake on a Saturday night that I had just enjoyed with my partner and our neighbors and even though it was only Saturday I felt a creeping dissatisfaction about all I wanted to achieve the next working week. I am not sure how you feel, but the fact that I attend most meetings online now creates more anxiety when a topic is really important to me. I feel that in a physical meeting I would be able to show my emotions better and I can be very convincing in such situations and achieve what I would like to achieve. Oftentimes, the point of such a meeting is to bring the other person or persons to an action or a decision.

But then, when I started to think about my week I felt there were so many small and urgent tasks to worry about that I would not be able to adequately prepare for those critical meetings where I would want to be fully present and prepared. And in order not to let anxiety dominate my thinking, I did what I usually do in such situations: I fell asleep. I woke up refreshed, made myself a cup of coffee, and started to work. 

Like a machine, I moved from one minor task to the next to set up my mind for success the next week. Then what happened next was that I was able to take my mind off the small tasks before the end of the weekend and I could focus on the “big wins” again.

And yes, it is easy to worry and action helps me the best to get out of the state of worry. What often blocks my flow is not a lack of motivation, it’s rather a feeling of having too much to do and too little time for fun and play. Here, as an entrepreneur, I developed the habit of allowing myself to not be reachable for anybody on certain days and just work in my pajamas if I feel like it. If I work on weekends, I usually schedule time in the morning so I can still go out and spend time with my loved ones in the afternoon. I even leave my phone in its bed for several hours on the weekend to be more present for my partner and friends.

I know what you are thinking now: “But what if a major client is trying to reach you and you are not responding for hours? Or what if there is an emergency? Or what if you wish to google something quickly? Or what if you forget important tasks because you have so much on your plate?”

(And then, when you think of all that, you stop your activity and decide not to follow your idea of starting a business because it suddenly seems “unrealistic” and “building castles in the skies”, and “it won’t be good for my old-age pension if I don’t get a regular salary…”, and “I don’t have enough experience, money, support to start my own business…”)

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt a major change was about to happen in your career or life but you were too frightened to even start? You might not call it “FEAR”, you will probably think it is “REASON”, but believe me, my friend, all those stories you are telling yourself why it won’t work are based on fear. This fearful voice was created a long time ago when you were a child and you were probably born into a culture where taking risks was not encouraged, where everyone believed in planning, predicting, and pushing through.

I think we all have experienced this issue before and I would like to call it the “mountain of tasks” that leads to a block in activity. It’s similar to sports. Once you stop doing sports it is really hard to be motivated again.

I believe that there are two ways to deal with the Monday Anxiety I am describing above. One is that you engage in your purpose. You clearly define why this task helps you to fulfill your purpose in life and on earth. 

The other trick is to hack the “mountain of tasks” into smaller bits and pieces, make it doable and start with a small baby step. Therefore, it is important to create a system that helps you keep an overview of your tasks. Most of you probably have developed a system over the years to track tasks and projects.

However, what I am noticing and have talked about in the last two blog posts is that we are starting a lot of work and it remains stuck in Work-in-Progress because of various factors. I would like to encourage you to complete your Work-in-Progress before the year-end and see how that makes you feel.

If you cannot fully complete a project, define a new milestone that you would like to have achieved by the end of the year. List all those milestones on a wall where you can see them, either by using post-it notes or a hand-written task list.

 

 

 

 

Read more:

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/getting-projects-completed/

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/the-digital-nomad-part-3/

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/expats-these-days-are-sleep-deprived-heres-how-you-can-break-that-cycle/

 

 

 

 

Images carved in stone

We have lived in a world dominated by political, economic, and environmental uncertainty for many years. However, the past three years have been exceptional and challenging for most of us. The global health crisis caused by Covid-19 has brought the entire planet to its knees. The pandemic impacted all aspects of life and radically changed the way we work. The world of Global Mobility will never be the same. We are beyond Global Mobility and ride into a new way of working.

Considering the impact caused by the pandemic, it does not take a fortune teller to foresee that Global Mobility Managers will have to deal with the blow of the crisis in the years to come. If you thought that one global crisis was enough, you were up for a shock in February of this year when Russia invaded Ukraine. 

Geopolitical tension, including in and around China, seems more pervasive than ever. Insecurity around energy, food supplies, inflation, and other dystopian scenarios cause many anxieties and mental health issues. The Global Mobility Manager of 2022 is a crisis manager. All “crisis” cycles show that Global Mobility Managers continue to be incredibly resilient and are constantly coming up with immediate and creative solutions to face issues that arise overnight. 

Imagine the difficulty of suddenly repatriating an Expat (or an Expat family) who was temporarily on holiday in a third country and remains stuck there without any other assistance. You might have to find a quick solution for someone who was about to go on assignment but had to postpone their departure. Their household goods are on their way to the host location. You book a serviced apartment for them in the home country.

Teams in war zones continue to work or relocate to a haven, refugees integrate into the workforce, and business travelers overstretch their stays in locations and create a tax liability.

Having handled many crises in the past, guarding the life of Expat families has become our daily bread. We continue to bring the human touch back into Global Mobility. As I already mentioned in my book in 2019, it is more important for all of us to keep our sanity. It’s more important than ever to put on our oxygen masks and work on our inner strength. 

Let’s continue to build up our support gang and raise the next generation of Global Mobility Managers through an excellent education with the Global Mobility Master Course at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. I also favor a mentor system where experienced Global Mobility Jedis foster and guide a Padawan. (Yes, I draw much inspiration from movies, books, and music.) 

When you need guidance, we all have our favorite book, and I turned to my religion for advice and found a fantastic guideline for the winter to come.

1) I am the EXPAT, your client: You shall not have strange people before me.

 

Our Expat population is changing. Nowadays, an ever more diverse population is embarking on international assignments. Expats vary in cultural background, family situation, age, gender, etc. It is impossible to address these various groups’ needs in a one-size-fits-all policy. A more diverse workforce equals a variety of individual assignees’ expectations, resulting in a proposition that might be desirable for one employee while not appealing for another. The Expat is our main client. We need to take care of their interests before we consider other parties in the process. In case of doubt, focus on people over processes (see also: Agile Manifesto).

In the AIRINC Mobility Outlook Survey 2021, 65% of respondents expect that the demand for flexibility from the business will increase. Meanwhile, 52% of the companies surveyed expect that adding more flexibility to policies is the best response to this demand, followed by 28% who think using a wider variety of policy types is the better solution. According to the Mercer 2019 Flexible Mobility Policies Survey, the most popular policy elements for which the participants introduced flexibility are family-related: housing, spousal support, child education, and home leave tickets are all items that can help improve the Expat Experience while on assignment.

 

2) You shall not take the name of the POLICY, your bible in vain.

 

There are reasons for quoting the policy, the law, or other regulatory insights. However, this should not be your go-to-wording for anything that “is not possible.” With the crisis, we all accepted that the duty of care belongs to our role. Policies should foster the well-being of employees. 

Flexible policies have prepared some companies to deal more efficiently with urgent repatriations and unforeseen mobility scenarios. Other companies adopting flexible policies have found them inapplicable and inappropriate in the context of urgency. In my view, we will be moving away from policies altogether and designing individual packages for the Expat that fits like a bespoke, handmade business suit.

We mentioned last year that immigration gets more complex, and it could be that the host country’s legislation has not kept up with modern family constructs, for example. Communication about what is possible and how we can support it is critical here. Communicate openly about longer lead times and backlogs at authorities (for example, post-BREXIT, the UK immigration process currently takes much longer than we were used to.).

 

 3) Remember to keep holy the DIGITAL DETOX DAY

 

Keep a “digital detox day” because your work never ends. We have constantly worked across time zones, holiday schedules, and daily demands. For your sanity and energy maintenance, it is essential to get away from all media for 24 hours at least. I practice DDD but observed with my coaching clients that the pandemic has blurred the lines between work and personal time. 

Many organizations have focused on digitization which means moving to more digital formats. While digitalization means strategically shifting to digital processes and activities. Often the term digitalization is used for both interchangeably.

One of the biggest challenges is incorporating technology into the business to add value to the company and its employees. One positive example of digitalization is reporting assignees through an intuitive HR system and tracking assignees through security apps such as the International SOS Assistance App.

Your level of digital engagement depends on how “digitally mature” your global mobility program is. You might be just ‘exploring digital,’ using robotics to carry out simple and repetitive tasks, while others might be already ‘becoming digital’ with a formal digital strategy. 

You are already experiencing success where automation performs tasks humans generally handle, such as periodic emails or copying and pasting information from public or private sources. 

Adopting and introducing those techniques into existing processes will focus on diminishing costs, increasing productivity by improving operational efficiency, and retaining talent. 

Some of the latest HR systems like Success Factors or Workday, offer essential workflow functions for international assignments. Still, they cannot yet run the entire end-to-end process with all the external vendors involved. Data needs to shift from the HR System to the vendor platform, but an integrated solution, which I call “the Holy Grail,” has yet to be invented (it exists mainly in my fantasy brain). As I filled another Excel sheet with numbers and birth dates, I kept reminding myself that this was how I started in the field in 1999. Before that, we used to calculate on paper.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology is another exciting use of AI in the field. We speed up transactional processes in mobility functions. Equally important is that automation can also reveal itself as crucial in reducing hierarchical thinking. If you want to read more about this topic, this article on our blog might interest you. 

Core office technologies such as telephone, word processing platforms, and email have evolved to expand connected and collaborative working possibilities. Expats can now access the latest information, join video conferences, and share and work on the same documents or workspace at their convenience, from a device and location of their choice. It is an excellent aid tool for managing assignee package creation. It makes it possible for our teams to communicate closely with our Expats worldwide. 

As for Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR, respectively), they can transform the onboarding experience into the organization or allow them to meet and collaborate with colleagues in other countries. Additionally, you can virtually recreate cities to immerse oneself in the new environment before deciding to move there. Many serviced apartments use VR to show their apartments.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already helping organizations go beyond traditional ways of managing the global workforce by using intelligent devices to predict, detect, and prevent risks in moving people around the globe. With the massive increase in the data volume available to organizations, the emergence of advanced AI-based algorithms, and the growing availability of data scientists, systems become increasingly self-managing and potentially self-defending against risks.  

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) deals with more natural ways humans and computers can work together in the future. Watch this space as it could again help us in Global Mobility and reduce our stress levels. For example, instead of sitting at a desk for 12 hours, we could work by walking outside and taking the Expat Family with us on a virtual tour of the city. Or we can use voice commands to fill out a form instead of retyping the data. 

 

 4) Honor the Expat’s Host and Home Manager (and Sponsors)

 

We have structured Global Mobility drivers and assignment types and integrated Global Mobility with the Talent function. We still need to bring back the Human Touch, and we especially need to align the home and host line manager’s interest in the Expat’s goals and performance criteria. 

We also need to remember to nominate a sponsor so that the Expat has a home they can return to and a guardian angel who watches out for their interests in the home company. You will have fewer headaches if you initially reduce the assignment length to a maximum of two years. It’s always easier to extend an assignment that works well than to “early repatriate” someone for whatever reasons.

Since the 1990s, assignment types have evolved from only having long-term or short-term assignments. In the 2000s, new kinds of assignments emerged, such as the rotator, the international transfer, the globalist, and the commuter. Then, the 2010s saw the rise of business travelers, international new hires, and domestic relocations. In the present decade, we will see the assignment types evolve and diversify further with new possibilities like virtual roles, contingent workers, remote workers, and other future mobility options we have not thought about yet. 

Depending on your situation, you might want to consider your primary use cases and create suitable assignment types around them. For example, we started the “Cross-Border Project Worker” type as someone who is employed in one location, lives in a second location, and might commute twice a week to a third location. European legislation now adopts the “Teleworker” as an assignment type. Be creative so you have a handle on managing or accepting our other reality of dealing with every case on a customized basis.

 

 5) You shall not fire any EXPAT. 

 

Have you solved the dilemma of succession planning and repatriation in your company yet? If so, I’d be interested in exchanging with you as it still seems that we are utilizing 1999 methods in recruiting and global resourcing. We should have understood that firing an Expat is never a good idea. It shows that we did not do our job well in the selection or assignment. Maybe we forgot to nominate a sponsor in the home company, or we assigned the Expats without a clear Global Mobility driver. We should make it our priority to retain our Expats in the organization.

 

 6) You shall not solicit from your VENDORS. 

 

As I mentioned in the Global Mobility Workbook, we need to collaborate better with all our vendors to enhance the Expat Experience (XX) further. One ground rule is that you cannot poach staff from your vendors. I would also suggest you build long-term relationships with everyone involved in the process.

You are one team at the end of the day, and the Expat and their family will feel it if you work together like a well-oiled machine instead of blaming each other when there is a break in the process. I would encourage you to search for the cracks in the “Process Porcelain” because most of the time, you can solve an issue best if you look at the process in every detail, handover, and sub-step.

 

 7) You shall not reduce BENEFITS. 

 

Now that companies diversify their compensation approaches, you need to dig deeper into base pay, benefits, and short-term and long-term incentives to have a more comprehensive financial understanding of the implications of an international move. It’s time to broaden your reward skills and ensure you understand compensation models, host-based compensation, and inflation rates by country. As a basic principle, try to maintain equity in the compensation approach. Balance out a lower salary than the host market by providing an additional market allowance or a benefit such as corporate housing.

 

 8) You shall not bear false witness against your EXPAT. 

 

Building a trusted relationship with your Expat and their Spouse will be a crucial success factor for any international assignment. Try to communicate openly and honestly and be transparent about your limitations. Let them know how you justify exceptions, how you make package decisions, how you can offer specific benefits, and under what circumstances. Show them your “box of chocolates” and give them one to taste. 

We think it is too short-sighted to discuss employee experience only in the context of our work and want you to focus on the Expat Experience (XX) specifically.

 

 9) You shall not Neglect the EXPAT SPOUSE.

 

The lack of Expat Spouse career opportunities is still among the top five reasons assignments fail (AIRINC Mobility Outlook Survey 2021). I have written extensively about why that is and given you ideas on how you can support the Expat Spouse. Over the last ten years, I have seen no significant improvement in how we integrate and support the Expat Spouse. Only a few companies offer Expat Partner Career Support. Let’s also agree that we want to see an improvement on that front. 

 

 10) You shall not move your EXPAT’s goods.

 

The climate and energy crisis will force us to rethink Global Mobility altogether. Expats want to work from anywhere in the world, and at the same time, moving furniture from Hong Kong to Singapore to New York or flying home every week might not be the best and most sustainable solution for the future. If you are serious about reducing the carbon footprint, you will need to incentivize environmentally friendly solutions in favor of the “classical approach.” For example, you could pay for storage rather than moving household goods. You could support rental furniture instead of giving an allowance for buying new furniture. You could pay for train travel instead of flights within a certain distance.

We will need to give up our resistance to “work from anywhere (WFA),” meaning that employees can also work in a third country of choice (not the home country or the location benefiting from the task performed). This possibility enables Expats to become digital nomads as they are no longer bound to a specific location. Implementing a more significant number of Virtual Assignments also means acknowledging and accepting that working arrangements are changing fast in response to technology, generational changes, and sudden business disruptions. 

Of course, there are limits to this as well. The most obvious is that not all jobs are remote, which is also one of the reasons why virtual Mobility will not replace traditional Mobility. Tax and compliance issues can pose a risk too. The company having no existing operations and not wishing to have a permanent establishment in the location where the employee would like to be based can be another possible barrier to Virtual Assignments. Some organizations are also concerned that Virtual Assignments could hinder company culture and teamwork, with the risk of the employee feeling like a perpetual outsider. The final point worth considering is that cost saving is not necessarily automatic. Sometimes, the assignee wants to live in a high-cost country where sending them will cost the company much more (Mercer, 2021b). 

It is now easier to see how virtual Mobility’s popularity closely relates to increasing a more dispersed international workforce. As companies upgrade their technology and become more agile, they could decide to assign projects and tasks to mobile people rather than moving defined jobs as such. In other words, instead of trying to fit assignees into predefined boxes, the aim is to manage a diverse workforce more fluidly and coordinatedly (Mercer, 2021d). 

Moving jobs to people instead of moving people to jobs will not substitute the traditional way of thinking about Global Mobility. Still, it is one more tool companies can use in their global operations. We live in an era where recruitment should be location-independent. 

As organizations gradually embrace best practices to manage a distributed international workforce, it will be essential for Global Mobility teams to adapt to a new way of thinking and learn to implement Virtual Assignments successfully. Also, the Global Employment Company adage will have a rebirth like the latest 80ies fashion.

As every year, I wish you great success in all your endeavors. You know you can always contact me via LinkedIn or good old bottle post or show me your love by reading my weekly brain dump (The Global People Club Sandwich). If you wish to bulk order “The Global Mobility Workbook,” please contact our team here.

Kind regards
Angie Weinberger

 

PS: The Global Mobility Master Course takes applications right now! You can sign up yourself and your team members for the Global Mobility Master Course at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. There is an early bird bonus for everyone who registers before 15 November 2022. I look forward to seeing you in one of the first lectures.

 

References and Further Reading

AIRINC. (2021). Mobility Outlook Survey 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://www.air-inc.com/library/2021-mobility-outlook-survey/ 

Baker McKenzie. (2019). ‘The Global Employer: Focus on Global Immigration and Mobility.’ Baker McKenzie. Retrieved May 27, 2020, from https://www.bakermckenzie.com/en-/media/files/insight/publications/2019/12/the-global-employer-focus-on-immigration-and-mobility_041219.pdf

Beck, P., Eisenhut, P. and Thomas, L. (2018). „Fokus Arbeitsmarkt: Fit für die Zukunft?”. Stiftung Zukunft.li. Retrieved 28 May, 2020, from https://www.stiftungzukunft.li/publikationen/fokus-arbeitsmart-fit-fuer-die-zukunft 

Bertolino, M. (2020). ‘How Covid-19 Is Disrupting Immigration Policies and Worker Mobility: A Tracker’. Ernst and Young. Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://www.ey.com/en_gl/tax/how-covid-19-is-disrupting-immigration-policies-and-worker-mobility-a-tracker

Crown. (2021). Five Standout Talent Mobility Trends for 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from  https://www.crownworldmobility.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/5-standout-talent-mobility-trends-for-2021_digital-CWM.pdf

Deloitte. (2019). ’Global Workforce Insight 2019.’ Deloitte. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ch/Documents/tax/deloitte-ch-Back-to-the-future-global-workforce.pdf

Deloitte. (2020). ‘2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey. Deloitte.’ Deloitte. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/articles/us43244_human-capital-trends-2020/us43244_human-capital-trends-2020/di_hc-trends-2020.pdf 

Dictionary.cambridge.org. (2021). multi-skilling. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/multi-skilling

FIDI. (2019). ‘2020 Vision: A Focus on Next Year’s Trends.’ FIDI Global Alliance. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://www.fidi.org/blog/2020-vision-focus-next-years-trends 

Hauri, D., Eisenhut, P., and Lorenz T. (2016). „Knacknuss Wachstum und Zuwanderung: Hintergründe und Zusammenhänge.” Stiftung Zukunft.li. Retrieved 28 May, 2020, from Knacknuss Wachstum und Zuwanderung

Hershbein, B. and Khan, L. B. (2018). ‘Do Recessions Accelerate Routine-Biased Technological Change? Evidence from Vacancy Postings.’ American Economic Review. Vol. 108, no. 7, pp. 1737-72. Retrieved May 27, 2020, from https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.20161570

KPMG. (2020). Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2020/10/gapp-2020-survey-web.pdf

KPMG. (2021). Global Mobility Forecast: Trends in Risk, Talent and Digital. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2021/02/global-mobility-forecast-trends-in-risk-talent-and-digital.pdf 

Mercer’s 2022 Flexible Mobility Policies Survey 

Mercer, (2019). ‘Flexible Mobility Policies Survey.’ Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/solutions/data-solutions/policies-and-practices-surveys/flexible-mobility-policies-survey

Mercer. (2017). Worldwide Survey of International Assignment Policies and Practices. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://www.imercer.com/products/WorldwideIAPP

Mercer. (2021a). Global mobility policy flexibility in practice. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/Insights/article/Global-mobility-policy-flexibility-in-practice 

Mercer. (2021b).The rise of virtual assignments. (2021). Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/the-rise-of-virtual-assignments 

Mercer. (2021c). Upskilling the Mobility Function. (2021). Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/Insights/article/Upskilling-the-Mobility-Function 

Mercer. (2021d). Talent mobility: looking ahead. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/Insights/article/Talent-mobility-looking-ahead

PWC. (2016). Women of the World: Aligning Gender Diversity and International Mobility in Financial Services. Retrieved 18 August 2021, from https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/industries/financial-services/assets/women-of-the-world.pdf 

Robb, A., Frewin, K. and Jagger, P. (2017a). ‘Global Workforce Trends: The Impact of the Digital Age on Global Mobility.’ Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/tax/deloitte-uk-global-mobility-trends-latest.PDF 

Robb, A., Frewin, K. and Jagger, P. (2017b). ‘Global Workforce : Digital Innovation in Mobility.’ Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/fi/Documents/tax/deloitte-uk-digital-innovation-in-mobility.pd 

Vialto https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6943208654061850624/ 

Weinberger, A. (2019). The Global Mobility Workbook (Third Edition). 978-3-9524284.

Working from anywhere: A differentiator in the war for talent? (2022). Mercer Mobility. Retrieved September 15, 2022, from https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/working-from-anywhere-a-differentiator-in-the-war-for-talent 

2021 buzzwords and what they tell us about mobility. (n.d.). Mercer Mobility. Retrieved September 15, 2022, from https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/2021-buzzwords-and-what-they-tell-us-about-mobility 

EPIC BLOG POSTS

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/our-eight-commandments-global-mobility-trends-2021/

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/why-we-need-to-push-for-more-minority-and-female-expats-in-global-mobility/

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/the-rise-of-women-in-global-mobility-seven-obstacles-and-six-solutions/ 

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/eight-major-barriers-to-expat-spouse-employment-2/

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/bringing-the-human-touch-back-in-the-impending-age-of-ai-and-digitization/ 

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/getting-projects-completed/ 

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/why-we-need-to-push-for-more-minority-and-female-expats-in-global-mobility/ 

Back to School in a great car

August so far has been more of a summer than the “Summer of ‘69”. Random song references are my thing now, and that makes sense because the #RockMeRetreat was never about “Rock’n’Roll Music” or “Jailhouse Rock.” “We will rock you!” so that no stone will be left unturned once you start on this journey of self-discovery with your Coach “Angie.”

Still, my dear, fall is here. We can still have a glass of “Summer Wine,” but the days are as short as the “Itzy Bitzy Teeny Weeny Honolulu Strand Bikini.” 

Rose petals sprinkled over my neglected Zen Garden, sunflower fields turned brown, and you have started to turn on the lights in the morning again. When you get home from work, you don’t want to sit outside anymore as it is dark, but you might vaguely remember this feeling you had as a kid when you were playing hide and seek at this time of the year, and it was just a notch better because it got dark at dinner time.

Apples are ripe for harvest, and the smell of onion pie and early wine hangs in the air. How do you remember the early fall, back when we were in high school? I remember a particular moment going down the stairs from our horrible grey concrete school building of the 70s, thinking, “This is great! I love being back at school!” I swung my newly acquired pepita jacket across my shoulders and closing my leather school bag with a sense of accomplishment. 

Do you miss those times where you felt like the world was in order and that you had all the opportunities ahead of you? You know when you feel like a “Rockstar” sipping champagne in a limo, with your Bono hat on, driving through “New York” with a bass drum pounding similar to the headache you will have the following day? 

Is this the life you want to have, without limits, without regrets, and certainly without the need to have a “boss” tell you what to do, as you know best how to do your job, how to build your contribution to the world and how to achieve your goals in work and life?

If you want to get to this focused and productive life level, you can start with building weekly practices and adding them to our RockMeApp. Last week I already spoke about seven easy-to-implement steps to help your body adjust to a new culture or new environment. This week, I would like to dive even deeper with these seven deadly rituals for focus and productivity

1 – Start Your Week with Monday Wishes

Starting your Week with Monday Wishes is a powerful way to start your week. Use your Have-Done-Diary (journal) to write down your wishes for the week without limiting yourself. Even if you end up re-writing your to-do list, just brain dump everything you wish for the week. The list should include fun stuff like “a bunch of flowers,” too.

2- Craft Your New Morning Ritual

I believe we should all have a morning ritual, and you can design yours around your needs, lifestyle, family, and pets. For example, you can think about, which order you ideally go through your morning to have a happy and productive day ahead. Pro tip: Don’t check your mobile phone during this time of the day.

3 – Finish with Friday Reflection

If your workweek closes on Thursday or Friday, use the last hour of your day to clean up your desk, sort paper or emails, write a task list for the week ahead, and then go through our four reflection questions on the RockMeApp. Here’s a helpful virtue of separating the workweek from the weekend. I’ve talked about taking 90 minutes on Saturday to finalize open tasks instead of working late with a few of you. Test this; for me, it works well.

4 – Plan a Digital Detox Day 

Taking a real break from Social Media, especially those funny videos on Facebook, isn’t easy unless you have a plan on where you can hide your phone for 24 hours. You might be a parent and need to be reachable for your children. Using my uncle’s strategy to have an elementary mobile phone to remain reachable over the weekend for essential clients and family can pay off. Alternatively, you can try to apply willpower (just kidding). Turn on the “Radio GaGa” and listen to unexpected songs, hear the news without images and enjoy that wonderful feeling.

5 – Weekly Practices You Can Do Anywhere

Weekly practices are a vital element of our programs. They help with sanity maintenance and make you a happier person to be around (as opposed to your inner Mr. Hyde, who is also a corporate zombie.) If you are struggling to define what practices are helpful to you or haven’t even started, I encourage you to define weekly goals that you can achieve no matter where you are. Examples could be daily walking targets and relaxation exercises or keeping your space clean of clutter

6 – Consider my Productivity Hacks 

If you feel you have maxed out your productivity already, please test this: If you can implement one of these seven productivity hacks (1- Have-Done Diary, 2 – Pomodoro Method, 3 – Eisenhower Matrix, 4 – Pareto-Principle, 5 – Peace Island, 6 – Repetition Checklists, 7 – Outsourcing Housework) and you notice any changes you might still have potential to improve, and there’s always space to learn and get better at tools. Also, to let you in on a secret, I used to waste a lot of time with mundane tasks such as looking for the correct passwords or making sure I had the right document version. A year ago, I often needed to follow up on team tasks and could not always rely on them. We now use password managers, a few master spreadsheets, and SLACK for team communication. I cannot say that this has increased our productivity. Still, my stress level is lower as now everything is well organized and accessible from anywhere and all team members.

7 – Revisit Your Weekly Planner

When you started working with the weekly planner (we usually hand this out at the end of all programs), you might have noticed an increase in productivity right away. Now, with a bit more practice, you might see that you could make optimizations or you could change your meal or exercise plan for the fall. I recommend that you keep the general structure and only optimize what doesn’t work well yet.

How about you practice one virtue for eight weeks and let me know what happened? I would love to hear from you. If you wish to further work on your purpose, performance, and productivity, I recommend joining our RockMeRetreat. Sign up here to be invited, and we’ll set up a call to discuss this further. 

 

 

Further Reading

https://teachings.eckharttolle.com/path-to-liberation-resisting-and-demanding-nothing/

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/tech-sabbatical-10-ways-getting-offline-helped-me-to-live-la-dolce-vita/

https://www.greenhomediy.co/love-your-home/

5 Things Highly Productive People Do Every Sunday That Most Others Don’t

https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/live-well/2018/07/5-powerful-health-benefits-of-journaling/

https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/benefits-of-journaling-_b_6648884

https://www.thespruce.com/decluttering-your-entire-home-2648002

 

 

 

Rise of Women

Picture this scenario: a leading multinational company must select somebody with the right skills to establish its first overseas division and has two equally strong candidates. Alice just got married and, in their best intentions but without consulting her, leadership decides that she would not like to go on assignment as she is likely to be starting a family. The opportunity is therefore offered to George. 

What do Alice and George think twelve months later? 

Alice and her husband wanted to get the wedding out of the way so that she could pursue her dream of going on an international assignment. She was shocked about not even being consulted. But it all worked out for her: she is now working overseas for one of their competitors and is very happy in her role.

The company’s decision came at the worst time for George. He and his wife were about to announce their first pregnancy to their families.  But he still said “yes” to the opportunity and eventually convinced his wife to give it a try. It was, however, very tough on her: She was sick throughout the pregnancy, and when the baby was born, she had no support network. This situation also impacted George’s performance which was disappointing compared to his pre-assignment performance. For this reason, the company decided to bring him back. 

I bet it’s not the first time you have faced this scenario. Wrong assumptions and stereotypes are, in fact, one of the reasons why women continue to be highly under-represented within the expat population

Though we have to mention a few positive developments that make the prospect of the rise of women in Global Mobility look somewhat brighter. Take policy and awareness, for example. In 2011, only 12% of CEOs saw poor retention of female talent as a key business challenge, and only 11% were planning policy changes to attract and retain more female workers (PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey). Yet, only five years later, 64% of CEOs worldwide confirm that they finally have a diversity strategy, and 13% plan to adopt one over the next 12 months (Pwc, 2016a).

What’s to Celebrate?

When we look at data, it’s essential to break it down. For example, even if it is true that the percentage of expat women swings between just 14% and 25% (Mercer, 2017; PwC, 2016a; PwC, 2016b), we cannot bypass the significant differences between regions and industry sectors. For example, while expat women in the energy and high tech sectors are only 8-11%, the percentage for the life science sector is 23%. Companies in the service and retail sectors also tend to have a higher rate of women expats. 

Other research provides an even more optimistic picture, showing us how the proportion of expat women grew slowly but steadily from the 1980s onwards.          

Continuing on the bright side, among those employees who have already had an international experience, 47% of the female and 53% of the male respondents confirmed they had completed more than one international assignment. In addition, based on their most recent international experience, 84% of women said they would repeat a similar experience, and 93% said they would recommend an international assignment to a colleague (PwC, 2016a). 

And last but not least, 73% of women working in Financial Services believe they have the same opportunities as men to undertake international assignments at their current workplace (PwC, 2016b). This percentage is encouraging compared to the 50% of women taking part in the previous year’s millennial survey who believe that promotion is biased towards men (PwC, 2015).

Despite rejoicing over these good news, we shall keep in mind that these variations don’t influence the overall conclusions: we are still decades away from seeing the percentage of female assignees rising to 50%. In the best-case scenario, the predictions estimate this will be reached only around 2050 (Mercer, 2017).

How Can You Benefit From Having More Expat Women? 

1 – You Will Facilitate Better Assignment Selection With a Broader Talent Pool 

One of the leading mobility cost drivers is a direct consequence of the limited choice of candidates ready for assignments. Inviting more women to the club creates more options for your company and indirectly helps control costs better. The more good candidates you have, the better your selection will be and the higher the chances that you don’t have to sell an incredibly overpriced assignment package.

2 – You Will Record a Higher Assignment Success Rate

The When Women Thrive report highlights that women are perceived to have unique skills that are particularly relevant for expatriation, including flexibility and adaptability (39% vs. 20% who say men have those strengths); inclusive team management (43% vs. 20%); and emotional intelligence (24% vs. 5%.). In short, women tend to build cultural bridges better than men and work more sustainably. 

3 – You Will Not Only Attract but Also Retain Talent

Female demand for international mobility has never been higher, with 71% of female millennials wanting to work outside their home country during their careers. Also, 64% of women interviewed said that international opportunities were critical in attracting and keeping them with an employer (PwC, 2016).

To successfully attract and retain female employees, you need to have a talent brand with international experience as a core element of your employee talent proposition. 

Are you not yet convinced that more expat women add immense value to your company?  In our previous post, we give other proof of how having a more diverse expat population makes you a more profitable and valuable company. 

Seven Obstacles to the Rise of Women in Global Mobility

1 – Strategy

Like most international organizations, you too might be currently challenged with a lack of alignment between Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and Global Mobility. You should work on solving this crucial issue as soon as possible. When goals and data are discussed with Senior Management, Global Mobility Managers must have a seat at the table. 

2 – Policy

Many Global Mobility policies were initially developed for male assignees with children and a “trailing” spouse. It’s 2022, and this needs to change. Make sure your policy addresses the issues of expat women and new types of families – single parents, for example (the vast majority of them being female), or same-sex couples, for example.

3 – Nomination Process

As we mentioned in our previous post, there is still a lack of transparency over who is assigned and why. Companies often don’t have a clear overview of their employees’ willingness to be internationally mobile. And like in Alice’s and George’s stories, unconscious bias still plays a considerable (yet  invisible) role in the selection of the candidates. Because of the prevalence of stereotypes that associate women with family, female employees are usually not even asked, even if they are willing to consider an assignment abroad. I’ve been there too. If you would like to take a short journey into the unconsciously biased HR world, look at this insightful article on gender decoding. 

4 –  Non-Diverse Host Locations 

This is probably not a big issue in reality (apart from a few critical war zones and dangerous locations). The problem is rather the assumption that expat women won’t be accepted in their new role abroad because of the fixed gender roles men and women have in the host location. In fact, expat women in India automatically have a higher status than local women. And in some Muslim cultures, as long as you wear a ring implying that you are married, you can be seen as highly respectable and will be treated accordingly. 

5 – Representation

While Global Mobility Managers are often female, women don’t benefit from the same representation rate at the upper levels. This means that Senior Leaders and Executives in Global Mobility are mainly men. As a consequence, lack of awareness at the Senior Management level is an issue, and this is especially true in traditionally conservative countries.

6 – Lack of Visible Assignment Opportunities for Women

65% of female employees (Pwc, 2016a) are still unhappy with the little transparency their companies offer over the availability of opportunities for overseas assignments. 

It’s time that you make opportunities readily accessible to all, including underrepresented talent groups!

7  –  Lack of Human Touch 

The lack of Human Touch and/or previous bad Expat Experiences might stop women from actively seeking opportunities for international exposure.

HR and Global Mobility teams are often too busy focusing on the many operational aspects of the mobility program and fail to design a human-centric Global Mobility program for their expat population. 

If you haven’t started yet, do it now. Talk openly about diversity in your policies and encourage internal discussion on this topic. Communicate about role models and success stories.

Six Potential Solutions  for a More Inclusive and Diverse Global Mobility Program 

1- Set Clear Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Goals for Global Mobility

Global Mobility, together with DEI teams, need to set realistic yet challenging goals for increasing the number of female assignees AND female department heads in Global Mobility. According to KPMG (2018), only 41% of the organizations surveyed had clear DEI objectives. Without specific targets, nothing will change! 

2 –  Allow for More Flexibility by Having Different Assignment Types 

New types of assignments and flexibility are making things easier for women and employees with family responsibilities to go on assignment. As I reiterate in The Global Mobility Workbook, Global Mobility should not systematically be synonymous with traditional Long-Term Assignments. Even if those remain the preferred assignment type by both genders, women favor 6-to-12 months assignments more than men (37% vs. 29%). We can say the same for assignments shorter than three months (10% vs. 5%) as well as frequent business travels (36% vs. 32%) (PwC, 2016a).

3 – Identify and Understand What the Real Barriers are 

Do you know what the real barriers to inclusive mobility are for your workforce and organizations? If you’ve never measured how your current policies hinder women’s mobility, you should act NOW.  Stop simply assuming the barriers to gender inclusiveness and understand better where the actual issues lay. That’s why I recommend intercultural training for all Global Mobility Managers.

4 – Give More Visibility to Female Role Models

While 68% of men feel that there are enough male role models of successful expats in their organization, only 48% of women feel the same about female role models (PwC, 2016b). This negatively impacts companies’ wider female talent pool and Global Mobility programs.  Therefore, if you want to help fill the gap, take active measures to drive awareness of the positive experiences of successful expat women within your organizations. 

On page 24 of this PwC report, you can read a short and inspiring testimonial of a Tax Partner and Expat Woman role model. 

5 – Use More Gender-Inclusive Language 

Too often, Global Mobility policies still refer to their globally mobile workforce with masculine pronouns. And quite logically, the consequence is that they would make you assume that “trailing” Spouses should be female. Well, it’s 2021, and this is not the case anymore. If you want to make your program more inclusive, start by addressing your talent differently. The UN has recently published new guidelines that will definitely be useful when updating your policies too.

6 – Foster a Supportive and Inclusive Culture

It is critical for your company to move away from the restrictive gender stigmas of the past if you wish to unlock your full global workforce potential. Your ultimate challenge is to create a culture where all your employees are on board with diversity and recognize its value.

Our message is clear: Global Mobility strategies that do not fully include women will simply not deliver to their full potential.

How We Can Help you

If it all makes sense to you, but you don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Here are four ideas on how we can do that.

  1. We deconstruct your expat nomination process and review your existing policies for inclusiveness.
  2. We improve the language you use in communication to make them gender-inclusive, and we also help you sprinkle them with “Human Touch.”
  3. We analyze your Expat Experience and identify unveiled barriers for female expats and their spouses.
  4. We facilitate transition workshops with expat women in the host country and prepare female candidates for potential expat assignments through our exclusive 1:1 Executive coaching program, RockMe!

PS: I have two more tips for you:

  1. If you are looking for a board member mandate in Switzerland, check out VRMandat and Stiftungsratsmandat. Check how they can support you.
  2. Look up these two links above if you’re trying to expand your board of directors.

Resources

https://stiftungsratsmandat.com/de/

https://www.vrmandat.com/en/

https://dorothydalton.com/2016/03/11/gender-de-coding-and-job-adverts/

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20160929-where-are-all-the-expat-women 

http://www.internationalhradviser.com/storage/downloads/Gender%20Bias%20in%20Global%20Mobility%20Developing%20Female%20Leaders%20PwC.pdf 

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/global-hr/pages/women-expatriate-workforce.aspx

References 

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

Meier, O. (2019). The path to diversity. Mercer. https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/the-path-to-diversity-women-on-assignment

PwC. (2011). 14th Annual Global CEO Survey. PwC. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/pdf/14th-annual-global-ceo-survey.pdf

PwC. (2015). Female millennials in financial services: Strategies for a new era of talent. PwC. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/financial-services/publications/assets/pwc-female-millennial-report-v2.pdf

PwC. (2016a). Modern Mobility: Moving women with purpose. PwC. 

https://www.pwc.com/gr/en/publications/assets/modern-mobility-moving-women-with-purpose.pdf

PwC. (2016b). 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

This is a good example of Women in Global Mobility
Riikka Virtanen Schwitter speaking during the EY “Future of Mobility” event (February 2020)

 

Expat Experience

Why Building Relationships is Harder for You

Turning into a Swiss Person

I sat on a panel, and I just got as far as saying “I think…” when the other panelist gave her opinion on the matter. She probably didn’t notice that I was trying to say something, but for a moment, I was annoyed and thought, “how rude…”. 

Funnily, many years ago in Germany, this would probably have been okay for me. However, I notice now how I have turned into a “Swiss person”. I also tend not to want to work with Germans who have just arrived in Switzerland because I notice in what they do too many of my own mishaps and small failures back when I was a newbie in Switzerland.

Having lived here in Zurich for over ten years now, I prefer to run my life Swiss-style. Despite considering myself open and tolerant, I still mess up intercultural communication. I’m not always understood, and sometimes I’m just wrong. I recently had a long discussion about left and right, and I know I have a weakness there. In the end, I found out that I muddled up left and right (again!).

Sometimes “Global English” also makes it worse: A bunch of non-native speakers trying to communicate in their second language can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary emotions.

Here are eight reasons that might make it harder for you to build professional relationships right now. And I don’t think that the pandemic is the main reason.

Eight Reasons

  1. You are shy, introverted, or not convinced that you are good enough to deserve success. Many partners suffer from the “impostor syndrome,” a psychological state of mind where people doubt their own accomplishments or consider themselves frauds just about to be exposed, especially if their career-driving partner just got another promotion in another country.
  2. You are embarrassed and ashamed of being “unemployed”. This is especially hard in a society where most of your self-worth is driven by your career and how busy you are.
  3. You come from a home culture where achievement is overly emphasized. In this cultures ascription is considered an unfair privilege while at the same time you are blindsided by the fact that you had an ascribed status in your home turf.  Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner associated the achievement dimension with protestant work ethic and belief. 
  4. You underestimate the cultural and value diversity in Switzerland. Even if Switzerland is the home of Zwingli and Calvin, there are catholic cantons where status, just like in the protestant cantons, is often equated with a family name, wealth, and how many generations you have already been a member of this society. So, there is still a strong ascription component that is not so obvious to outsiders. You don’t recognize that you have been in the out-group until you join the “Circle of Trust.”
  5. You are unaware of how you come across in person and assume that your style and behavior are “normal.” For example, you have not yet learned to read the cultural cues that hint that you might be too pushy or rude. A typical example in Switzerland is that newbies tend to overstretch a time commitment. In a society that runs on the clock and is a role model of the sequential time approach according to E.T. Hall’s time dimensions, not respecting this often creates a lot of stress for the other person.
  6. You are sending messages to mark your status in your home turf, such as the “Dr.” title in Germany. Or hint at your seniority by name-dropping the influential VIPs you used to hang out with. Still, this is either not understood or considered boasting, narcissistic, and merely annoying in Switzerland. (You could even exaggerate your qualifications and background, for all we know!)
  7. You interrupt your counterpart because you feel that they are slow. The Swiss tend to speak slower than many other Europeans, but they don’t like to be interrupted in their thought process as they are used to having a voice and being asked for their opinion on everything.
  8. You come from a high-context culture and you feel like you don’t know how to address a “stranger”  adequately.  You don’t know how to phrase your requests (your “ask”) to them, and they don’t understand you at all.

Relationship Segmentation Can Be a Barrier

Over the years of running my own business and projects, I often noticed that all the tools I tested to maintain a strategic approach to networking failed miserably with the extensive network that I’ve built over my professional life. 

So, I decided to let go of “strategy” and follow my gut and memory. I realized that the best idea is not to worry too much about “contact segmentation.” We Germans love the word “Begriffsabgrenzung”, so we also do this to our social life (“Bekannter, Kollege, Freund, Verwandter, Familie, Partner, Ehepartner…”). It’s a step-by-step approach, showing how much you trust the other person.

The same segmentation exists in Switzerland, but there are “false friends”( e.g., the word “Kollege” means “Work Colleague” in High German and “Friend” in Swiss German). In Switzerland and Germany, the informal ways of addressing a person with “Du” have different meanings.

Without intercultural training, a German manager will behave like a bull in a china shop in Switzerland – completely unintentionally. Hence, working with German managers in the “honeymoon phase” is a lot of work for the trainer or coach. I prefer to work with you when you are beyond the honeymoon phase, and you understand that you might not function in Switzerland like you are used to.

A Fluid Approach

My colleagues have become friends over the years, and some of my best friends from my university days or early career are colleagues or clients now. Some of my team members have become family, and some of my family members work in the same field or closely related ones. And some friends will never pay you while others will insist on giving back. The world is colorful, and so are people.

While saying this, I don’t want to imply that you have to like everybody you work with or network with. However, it’s another atmosphere for collaboration and innovation when you can fully trust the other person, and know in your head and heart that this person would never talk badly about you behind your back and would not spill your secrets with your competitors. 

Safe and collaborative environments require “relationship work.” 

Let me know what you are doing today to work on your business relationships.