Category Archives: Global Mobility

Guest post by Oyindamola Adedokun

It is no gainsaying that globalization has truly changed the modalities of doing business in the 21st century. The increased rate of interconnectedness and global interdependence has generated the need for many companies to spread their tentacles abroad if they must have a competitive advantage and wield global relevance in today’s fast-changing global economy. The development and geographical expansion of international corporations are however not usually a walk in the park. 

There’s a wide array of expatriation processes that must be networked in order to manage a subsidiary or branch in a geographical territory or culture that is different from the headquarters. 

Before we explore the factors that determine whether or not an international assignment is successful, it is only relevant to examine some of the other reasons why international corporations send assignees abroad. 

The first reason is position filling (SHRM, 2017). Expats are sent on international assignment mostly if there is a position that no local could fill. This is mostly due to a lack of sufficient skills and expertise that allows one to function optimally in a given role. At this juncture, suitable expats are sent from the headquarters or sourced externally to fill an existing gap. This is mostly a common occurrence in the construction sector. 

The second reason expatriates are sent on international assignments is to have them develop their managerial skills by gaining access to an international context of doing business, thereby fostering career growth (UKEssays, 2018). Many multinational companies (MNCs) use expatriate assignments as a leadership development tool. These MNCs often send their managers and executives internationally in an attempt to develop their knowledge of the international economic environment and their ability to work and manage effectively across national borders (Tung, 1998). 

Repatriates, who have completed a global assignment, can help establish and expand an MNC’s international business because they possess first-hand knowledge of particular cultural contexts, including information about specific markets and customers. Repatriates understand how the company is perceived in another country and are part of a global social network that can advance the company’s business.

Another reason why multinationals send expats on international assignments is to enter a new market. Expats are sent on assignment to a new territory to analyze the market to see whether the company’s products or services will attract clients and users. 

The last reason is to control and coordinate the global activities of a company (Bonache et al., 2001; Harvey and Novicevic, 2001) as it is in the company’s interest to integrate its transnational activities. Through their expatriates, the companies seek to replicate the values and objectives of their home offices in the culture of the branch where the international assignment is taking place. 

Having discussed some of the reasons why companies send expats on international assignments, I will now examine five important factors that determine success in international assignments for expats. 

The factors that contribute to the success of expats on international assignment can be classified into 5 categories: job knowledge and motivation; relational skills; flexibility and adaptability; extra-cultural openness; family situation (Arthur, Bennet; 1995, cited by Weber; 2004).

    • Job knowledge and expertise. The importance of possessing the technical skills relevant to a role cannot be overemphasized. This is one of the major factors that guarantee optimal work delivery in an international assignment. As already mentioned, one of the reasons multinational enterprises send expats on a foreign assignment is to transfer skills and knowledge to a branch. Suffice it to say that one can only transfer the skills and expertise one possesses. 
    • Relational skills. Accepting to go on an international assignment is invariably accepting to leave the people you are already familiar with to interact with a new set of unfamiliar people and colleagues. Relational skills go beyond the knowledge of the business model and professional experience to include personal traits such as patience, trustworthiness and honesty, empathy and understanding, reliability and dependability, influence, and persuasiveness. 
    • Flexibility and adaptability. These refer to one’s ability and willingness to respond and adjust to changes by balancing your core beliefs to accommodate the norms in one’s current environment. An expat would only be successful to the degree he or she is able to adapt to new processes, methodology, and procedures. 
    • Extra-cultural openness. The concept of cultural intelligence captures an individual’s capacity for successful adaptation to new and unfamiliar cultural settings and ability to function easily and effectively in cultural environments worldwide including situations characterized by cultural diversity (Earley & Ang, 2003; Earley & Mosakowski, 2004). It is an individual’s capability to deal effectively with people from a different cultural background and understanding (Earley & Ang, 2003). International assignments involve going to a country with an array of different cultural preferences. In order to avoid stress and frustration, an expatriate must possess some level of global competency. 
    • Family situation. The family situation is a key factor that determines whether or not an assignment is successful. Organizations have the responsibility to cater to their employees during an international assignment. However, does this care and concern extend to the expat family? After all, the success of an international assignment cannot be taken into account separately from family support. As a matter of fact, people would choose to leave their international assignments in order to save their marriages (Weinberger; 2020). 

Getting a coaching session with Angie Weinberger could already be a step in the right direction of making an international assignment successful.  You can so sign up here to receive offers for free online workshops and updates on the upcoming HireMeExpress program.

OYIN
OYIN

About the Author

Oyindamola Adedokun is an experienced Mobility Professional with expertise in talent mobility across Africa. He is experienced in engaging proven measures to provide both SME (Small and Mid-size enterprises) and Large-size multinationals end-to-end support in on-boarding expatriates in Nigeria.

With his practical experience, Oyindamola manages a broad range of Immigration facilities such as STR visa, Temporary Working Permit, CERPAC, Quota Approval from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Interior. He also consults potential foreign investors who are trying to explore the many untapped opportunities present in the Nigerian market on the legalities of establishing a foreign enterprise in Nigeria. 

With a demonstrated history in the oil and energy sector, Oyin currently manages the immigration facilities of well over 100 expats in one of the leading oil servicing companies in West Africa. 

References

Earley, P.C., & Ang, S. (2003). Cultural intelligence: Individual interactions across cultures. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

Earley, P.C., & Mosakowski, E. (2004). Cultural intelligence. Harvard Business Review, 82, 139-153. 

SHRM. ( May 2017). Managing International Assignment https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/cms_010358.aspx 

UKEssays. (November 2018). Motive For Sending Managers Abroad As Expatriates. Retrieved from

https://www.ukessays.com/essays/management/motive-for-sending-managers-abroad-as-expatriates-management-essay.php?vref=1 

Weber, T. (2004). What Are The Critical Success Factors In Expatriate Assignments?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/34588

Weinberger, A. (2020). Assignment Failure on the Rise? The Solution is to Prevent Family Separation – Part 1 https://globalpeopletransitions.com/avoiding-assignment-failure-through-family-issues-seven-key-provisions-for-your-global-mobility-guidelines-part-2/

Family Separation

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 the Expat Spouse’s unhappiness as the primary cause of “Expatriate Failure”, highlighting the importance of the Expat Spouse and Partner 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 2021 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.
  • Offer training 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 Ph.D. 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 into the “working” and the “non-working” categories is too simplified. 

Employers should therefore ensure that their partner policies support these choices equally for working and non-working partners 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 assisted on a case-by-case basis. 29% provided no support at all. 

With an Expat Spouse and Partner Support Guideline in place, you will more easily become a more attractive employer.

2 – Involve the Expat Spouse and Partner 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 as 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, you must be 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 the 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 that 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 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 recognized in another.

The 2018 Relocating Partner surveys highlight 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!

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 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 family separation. There are also instances where the Expat Spouse and potential children should stay in the home country. One reason could be schooling, another reason health and safety. Consult with me if you have any questions about how can bring the #HumanTouch back into your Global Mobility Program and Team.

Kind Regards,

Angie.

PS: We open HireMeExpress for Sale

We developed the HireMeExpress program to support more Expat Spouses and Partners to find a job in a new country. All of the twelve modules and more than 36 worksheets can be used for other expat hubs from Berlin to Bombay. However, our best network is in Zurich, Zug, and Basel, Switzerland. Hence, we can help best here. If you need help in other locations, contact us anyway, as we have contacts globally.

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

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Biases and prejudices are burdens that confuse the past, threaten the future and render the present inaccessible” ~  Maya Angelou. 

Although international organizations have Diversity and Inclusion objectives, in the vague sense of it as it were, yet according to a report by KPMG, 2018, many are falling short due to failure to understand how Diversity and Inclusion impact Global Mobility programs. 

Another survey by KPMG highlighted that the majority of Global Mobility Programs do not have specific Diversity and Inclusion objectives as part of their department’s strategy. 70% of the companies that do have diversity and inclusion practices in place stated that this was due to a strong business case for diversity across all areas of the business. 

At this juncture, it is important that we define “Female and Minority Talent”. While what you consider as a minority will depend largely on your home base country, where your headquarters is based, I recommend that you consider all of these groups:

  • BIPOC: The acronym BIPOC refers to black, indigenous, and other people of color and aims to emphasize the historic oppression of black and indigenous people.
  • LGBTQ+: LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, and other sexual identities and genders.
  • Religious and cultural minorities in your home and host countries.

We previously discussed the obstacles women face in Global Mobility. We also raised the why question. This is about the how.

As rightly posited by Tom Paton, diversity is slower to gain reception in areas where prejudice or centuries of deep-rooted behavior may persist. Unconscious bias is when a Sponsoring Manager is preparing to send only white men abroad to fill a business gap. 

What you will see is often unconscious bias against female talent because the Sponsoring Manager assumes that a woman has a house to keep and children to raise. Sometimes the prejudice is just as simple as “women don’t do this kind of job or can’t work in this country”. There is a strong stereotype that women with children don’t want to work abroad. 

Meanwhile, data shows that 88% of women feel that they need to go on an international assignment to advance their careers (PWC, 2016). The study shows that 73% of women in Financial Services wish more transparency on opportunities overseas. The lack of transparency in overseas opportunities leads minority groups and women to be underrepresented as they are not aware of the opportunities. 

Consequently, companies have smaller talent pools as the communication of overseas opportunities is often rather ambiguous. The outcome of the survey by KPMG brings a little hope in this aspect, as nearly half of the companies surveyed indicated that the review of their Global Mobility processes will result in broadening communication to employees about opportunities. 

We all want to maximize the potentials of our pool of resources. 

There is enough evidence that companies having both gender diversity and ethnic and cultural diversity are more likely than ever to outperform their less diverse peers. 

McKinsey’s most recent report ‘’Diversity Wins’’ outlines that companies in the top quartile for gender-diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth-up quartile. The outcome for ethnic and cultural diversity is equally appealing. Therefore, the business case for diversity and inclusion is clear, it is time for us to take matters into our own hands.

Here are our top six tactics to give female and minority talent a seat at the Global Mobility table.

1 – Identify Strong Candidates: This boils down to eliminating all forms of prejudices, stereotypes, and biases. Regardless of being male or female, it is important to create a system of identifying those who are qualifying for international work and projects. The key points to consider for an ideal selection are performance, potential, and if needed proficiency with the relevant languages. Use your performance and potential data and don’t just rely on “gut” feeling about candidates. Make sure that you have “hard skills” added to your HR System so you can search talent by language or IT skills.

2 – Select Candidates Based on Intercultural Sensitivity Tests: Every candidate that meets the requirement for being sent on an assignment should go through an intercultural sensitivity test.  We must stop making the assumption that women with children are unwilling to take up an international assignment.  Not only can women be willing to receive an assignment, but they are just as capable of accomplishing great things and succeeding as their male colleagues.  On another note, the potentially stressful or dangerous context in the host location might be a deterrent for some employees, but before assuming, have a conversation with your potential assignee. You have to ensure that your selection process is based on data and facts, rather than sentiments. Work with a professional to assess their intercultural competence. At GPT, we use assessment tools such as the Intercultural Development Inventory or  Individual Cultural Blueprint Indicator.

3 – Provide Global Guidelines for Recruiters: This sounds simple yet very profound. We have witnessed the surge of different “expatriates” such as Cross-Border Commuters, Virtual Assignees, Global Nomads, International Business Travelers, and Commuters. In Global Mobility, if we want to be inclusive, we need to offer support to all of these people, their families, and their needs have to matter to us. Here are my ideas for your global recruiting guidelines. 

4 – Enhance Intercultural Intelligence Across all Levels: “Intercultural intelligence means suspending judgment until enough information about the other person becomes available; paying attention to the situation; cross-cultural training that increases isomorphic attributions, appropriate affect, and appropriate behaviors; matching personal and organizationally attributes; increasing the probability of appropriate organizational practices”  Now is the time to promote intercultural intelligence within your workforce population. Offer “Unconscious Bias” training for your senior managers and ensure your senior managers lead a diverse workforce. Expose them to other cultural styles.

5 – Offer an open Job Platform: Most companies work like Twitter. You have fans and followers and people who watch what you are doing closely. Instead of organizing talent programs, you can make your global job market transparent. All talents want to be given a fair chance at success and you need to find ways to motivate more introverted busy bees as well. Part-timers often need more recognition and sponsors who help them be seen for opportunities. 

You might want to rewrite all your job postings to be more inclusive and reduce the white male-dominated language. You also need to reduce the profiles so they match real professionals. As I mentioned in “The Global Career Workbook” most job profiles I’m reading have been written for Superman and Wonderwoman. According to a study by Hewlett-Packard, women only apply for jobs when they meet 100% of the requirements while men already do so if they meet 60% of them. This finding is often quoted in articles to prove that women lack confidence. It is never wrong to boost up your confidence, but the reason behind the figures seems to be something else. 

According to an article by Tara Sophia Mohr, the reason why women apply less quickly is because of the bias that women need to meet more qualifications than their counterparts. Secondly, from a young age girls are being taught to follow the rules and are being rewarded for doing so. This often leads to a rule-following habit that makes women believe that if they don’t meet all the requirements, that they shouldn’t waste their or the HR Manager’s time and energy. So, don’t post vacancies that only heroes can fulfill as you will miss out on many potential candidates. 

6 – Target Your External Job Ads to Female and Minority Talent: When you post a job profile on LinkedIn, you can pay for as much or as little exposure as you want and target it to a very specific audience. Indeed, if you manage your campaign effectively by targeting Female and Minority Talent you not only show your support, you also help your brand. Mention that you wish to hire women and minorities explicitly. Posting jobs online is like getting applicants in real-time. Online announcements can help you either increase your efforts to attract more candidates or even prevent candidates from applying if you’ve already found the right person for the job. If you are looking for younger recruits in particular, then e-recruitment is probably the single most effective and efficient strategy possible; in the US, for instance, 98% of the 18–29 age group are active internet users. It can help if you build a fan base through a specific topic and use this fan base for building your female and minority talent pipeline.

We’re offering a series of free workshops in advance of our upcoming #HireMeExpress fall group program.

Workshop 1:  Partnering Masters – Building Effective Relationships 

with Angie Weinberger
Thursday, 24 June 21 

from 4 PM to 5 PM CET

Workshop 2: Powerful Missions – Having a Voice in a Sea of Noise 

with Angie Weinberger
Thursday, 1 July 21 

from 4 PM CET to 5 PM CET

Workshop 3: Planning Money – Bringing Financial Security to your Life 

with Keren-Jo Thomas
Thursday, 8 July 21 

from 4 PM to 5 PM CET.

We promise friends, fame, and finances.

#hiremeexpress #humantouch #globalmobility #expats #digitalnomads #networking #minorities #diversityinclusion #financialplanning #retirement #friends #fame #jobalert #jobs

Please sign up here to receive all updates on our workshops, the 19 POINT FRESH RESUME CHECKLIST, and our special offers:  http://eepurl.com/hitraT.

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Why only 25 percent of international assignees are women

https://www.sundaebean.com/2019/04/29/121-why-only-25-percent-of-international-assignees-are-women/

The Ultimate Holiday Reading List for Minority Expats to Reinvent Themselves

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/the-ultimate-holiday-reading-list-for-expats-to-reinvent-themselves-start-2021-with-a-plan/ 

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

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

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

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/every-expat-and-spouse-should-have-the-best-experience-why-we-need-to-transform-global-mobility/

https://www.globesmart.com/blog/four-ways-organizations-can-support-their-lgbtq-employees/

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

Kramer, S. (2018). How Inclusion and Diversity Impact Global Mobility Programs [Report]. Retrieved 15 June 2021, from https://fowmedia.com/how-inclusion-and-diversity-impact-global-mobility/ 

McKinsey & Company. (2020). Diversity Wins: How inclusion matters [Report].
https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/featured%20insights/diversity%20and%20inclusion/diversity%20wins%20how%20inclusion%20matters/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters-vf.pdf

Paton, T. (2021). DiversityBusiness.com | News. Retrieved 15 June 2021, from http://www.diversitybusiness.com/news/diversity.magazine/99200881.asp 

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

Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified. (2014). Retrieved 15 June 2021, from https://hbr.org/2014/08/why-women-dont-apply-for-jobs-unless-theyre-100-qualified 

Hiring Talent from the Globe

I’m on a MISSION to bring the HUMAN TOUCH back into Global Mobility. One theme that I see more now is that we Global Mobility Professionals are involved in the recruiting of Global Talent. This makes a lot of sense when you consider that we have the knowledge and skills to deal with most of the challenges that hiring people from other countries brings. However, since in most organizations we are not officially responsible we don’t get the resources we need to deal with recruiting professionally. Hence, we can consult but not support. So, dear recruiters, I hope this is helpful.

Lifestyle Expats, or Self-Initiated Expats (SIEs), are an important factor in today’s global force and the actual circumstances suggest the phenomenon is on the rise (Habti & Elo, 2019). In fact, thanks to technological changes, such as online recruiting, the labour market has become more international and more fluid and made the process of filling jobs internationally (internally or externally the organization) much simpler. As a consequence, an increasing number of professionals consider working abroad a realistic career option and there are growing opportunities to identify and eventually find a job abroad.

We are in the middle of an unprecedented global crisis, which is bound to create a stronger recession than the 2008 financial crisis, and the war for talent is as heated as ever. 

Specialized Subject Matter Experts are increasingly hard to find and when you turn to places rich in talent such as Singapore and certain areas of the US like Boston and the Silicon Valley, that’s of course where competition is already extremely high. Moreover, there is no real point in stealing from the competition if you aim at bringing in innovation. 

It’s 2020 and the global workforce is as varied as ever, with five generations working side by side and companies striving to fulfill all their D&I goals (gender/religion/ethnicity/sexual orientation). As cited by Forbes, diversity plays an ever more important role in recruitment and is proving to be directly correlated with an increased revenue for the company (Boston Consulting Group, 2018; KPMG, 2018). 

Yet, relocation policies have historically been a one-size-fits-all model and are often still struggling to include points such as religion, ethnicity, age, disability status, working mothers, non-traditional family units, etc. 

Make sure your Global Mobility policies acknowledge and support your employees’ varying needs to make them feel more encouraged to accept International Assignment. The point is to ensure that deserving and promising talent does not experience barriers to success.

Demographic changes will require highly-skilled migrants to fill positions as turnout of university graduates declines in developed countries. Also at the EU level and among the Member States there is consensus on the need to address labour market shortages, worsened by the deepening demographic crisis and skill mismatch (Platonova & Urso, 2012).

Even rich countries like  Liechtenstein, (Beck et al., 2018; Hauri et al., 2016) may have a hard time attracting talent. Other more traditional expat hubs, like Singapore, London, New York City, the UAE, Hong Kong and Switzerland, continue leading the ranking despite the high costs of living. In this case, according to the 2020 Global Talent Competitiveness Index, what really makes the difference are their socio-economic policies in which talent growth and management are central priorities. 

Perhaps even more important to acknowledge is that the world of work as we knew has already changed. With new technology enabling employees to work almost anywhere and anytime, the classic ‘nine to five’ is outdated. In an article published by Sage People even before the pandemic changed companies’ approach, figures speak for themselves:  not only do 50% of the US interviewees say they’d like to be more mobile at work, but a good 54% would change job if it meant more flexibility.

In Global Mobility, Virtual Assignments are an opportunity to give employees the much longed-for flexibility they seek. Despite Virtual Assignments having always been on the rise since the widespread implementation of the internet, it’s easier to see how they’re going to be even more numerous in the aftermath of the Corona-crisis. In fact, never before have so many employees worked remotely in order to guarantee essential business continuity. 

But there is another side of the medal, and this is the portion of talent who seek international experience as part of their decision to join a company.  In particular, overseas assignments are becoming more appealing among Millennials, who often see the opportunity to live and work abroad as more rewarding than a pay rise. They are called Digital Nomads or Telecommuters. According to Smart Gear, 90% of digital nomads plan on working remotely for the rest of their careers, while 94% of them encourage others to try Digital Nomadism themselves.

Whether or not you’re having troubles attracting talent, here are six basics to add to your recruiting suite that you should consider during and after the recruiting process. 

1 – Make Sure They Have a Realistic Picture of What it’s like to Live in Your Expat Hub

Try to put yourself in the mind of a candidate who is contacted by a company in a foreign location. What’s the first thing that you would like to know? Salary? Job title? The direction of the company? Probably none of these things, but rather: “Why would I want to move there?”

Moving continents, or even “just” countries, isn’t a decision that can be taken on the potential of a great office view only. Instead, candidates need to know what the place looks like, what language is spoken, where they (and maybe their families) would live and whether they would fit in.

It is useful to include this information on your careers page so as to make it more of a relocation portal and less of a job listing. Workable offers a service to help you in this process. Not only will candidates benefit from this information, but so will your company: showing what candidates want to know during the overseas job hiring process builds your credibility from the beginning.

This type of thinking is beneficial for companies at every level, whether you’re hiring someone 70 or 7,000 miles away.

2 – Help with the Move of Household Goods

Among Expats and Expat Spouses, the phase of moving abroad is often cited as the most stressful one. Moving out doesn’t take one day only: there are farewells, often a party, and especially when small kids are involved, the family needs to stay with friends or in a hotel room. While Expats are still busy handing their work over and finalizing conversations with clients, Expat Spouses are often alone in coordinating all the logistics behind the move. That’s why it is important that they are connected with a moving company. Having someone who takes care of their house goods until they are settled in the new location surely spares the Expat family from a lot of stress. 

If you are looking for a relocation company, consider paying a visit to the Keller Swiss Group. They offer relocation services, household removals, business relocation and household storage services, both in Switzerland and worldwide.

3 – Organize Support with Immigration 

Organizing support with immigration is definitely another helpful and efficient way of helping the expat family during the stressful pre-assignment phase. In recent years, the process of obtaining work permits and visas has become more complex. Letting Expats and Expat Spouses navigate this sea of bureaucracy all alone would put on them an incredible and unnecessary amount of stress. 

When it comes to immigration compliance, each case is different and needs to be examined thoroughly. Some relocation companies, like BecomeLocal in Switzerland, are specialists in this field. They can help you handle the permit process, write applications and submit to the authorities, instruct professionals and executives to obtain visas, sparing your organisation and the expat family a lot of hustle.

4 – Provide Spouse Career Support and A Pre-Hire Assessment for the Spouse

The effects that International Assignments have on the Expat Spouse’s wellbeing and state of mind are often underestimated. For some Expat Spouses, the sudden change from independent career person to stay-at-home parent has a strong psychological impact, even more so if getting a working visa is not possible.

Coaching is a very powerful tool with which companies can support Expat Spouses. With the help of a Career Coach, some Expat Spouses manage to start their own businesses while living abroad, thus finding deeper fulfillment in the experience.. At Global People Transitions we are specialized in this. If you want to know more about what we do to help Expat Spouses find motivation and new perspectives, visit Global People Transitions or send me an email (angela@globalpeopletransitions.com).

It is also very fair to the Expat Spouse to have a realistic idea of whether their profile actually leads to potential employment in the host market or whether their chances of finding work are slim. An Expat Spouse Coach can also help with a pre-hire assessment for the Expat Spouse.

5 – Consult them on Technical Issues such as How to Get Health Insurance, What to do About Their Taxes 

Once again try to put yourself in the mind of your future employees. They now have a clearer idea of what it means to live in your expat hub and they are positively considering relocating there. Perhaps their spouses and children are coming along. In this preparatory phase, Expats are inevitably very busy with what needs to be handled back at home in their professional and private life. But they also need to be ready for what’s coming next. 

Handling both “back home” and “in host country” can be extremely overwhelming, especially if this means going through important technical issues of a country with a different system and in a language they don’t understand. This is the right time to step in and consult them on important decisions such as which type of health insurance to get and how to do it, but also on how to handle their taxes. If you can’t deliver this in-house we’re happy to help.

6 – Sprinkle Everything with  A Bit More Human Touch

As I said earlier and many times before, HUMAN TOUCH is my MISSION and the key to enhancing the employee experience. Deloitte (2019) proved to be onboard with that when stating that today’s global workforce is attracted and motivated by a more personalised, agile and holistic experience than before. This is why it’s important that you find your way to unlock the HUMAN TOUCH. For example, you can start by welcoming new team members with a hand-written card. You will make their first day a celebration. 

If you wish to review your global recruiting policies or your process please contact me for a proposal via angela@globalpeopletransitions.com.

Resources 

Become Local. Swiss Immigration Adviser. https://www.becomelocal.ch 

Harrison, C. (2019, 19 Sep.). „7 Surprising Statistics about Digital Nomads.” Smart Gear Blog. https://smartgear.travel/7-surprising-statistics-about-digital-nomads/

Hayes, A. (2020, 7 Apr.). „What is a Digital Nomad?”Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/digital-nomad.asp

Keller Swiss Group. Worldwide Moving Relocation. https://www.kellerswissgroup.com/

MBO Partners. (2018). „Rising Nomadism: A Rising Trend.” MBO Partners, Inc. https://s29814.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/StateofIndependence-ResearchBrief-DigitalNomads.pdf 

Montilla, E.  (2020, 17 Jan.). „Achieving workplace diversity through recruitment in tech.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/01/17/achieving-workplace-diversity-through-recruitment-in-tech/#2214496a1359

References

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

Boston Consulting Group. (2018). „How diverse leadership teams boost innovation.”, BCG. Retrieved 28 May, 2020, from https://www.bcg.com/publications/2018/how-diverse-leadership-teams-boost-innovation.aspx 

KPMG. (2018). „Inclusion and Diversity: How Global Mobility can help move the Needle”, KPMG. Retrieved May 28, 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

Habti, D and Elo, M. (2019). Global Mobility of Highly Skilled People. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. 

Hauri, D., Eisenhut, P., and Lorenz T. (2016). „Knacknuss Wachstum und Zuwanderung: Hintergründe unde Zusammenhange.”Stiftung Zukunft.li. Retrieved 28 May, 2020, from https://www.stiftungzukunft.li/application/files/3215/1635/3318/Knacknuss_Wachstum_und_Zuwanderung_Endfassung_22_11_2016.pdf

Platonova A. and Urso, G. (2012). „Labour Shortages and Migration Policy.” International Organization for Migration. Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/labour_shortages_and_migration_policy.pdf?language=en


“We need to take a stance and stand up for minority and female talent now.”  @angieweinberger

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 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 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 need 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 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 to 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, the 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. 

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), organizations 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. 

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 favorable consideration to frequent business travel based in their 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. 

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.

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 at least 69 countries. According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (2021), there are still 7 countries where there is the death penalty for same-sex sexual conduct. 

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.

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 leaders. 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.

Resources 

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

Murchie, F. (2020). Women on the front line. Relocate Global, Summer Issue 2020, p.13 https://content.yudu.com/web/fiqy/0A3p9yp/Summer-2020/html/index.html?page=12&origin=reader

https://attitude.co.uk/article/meet-the-head-of-the-united-nations-lgbtq-staff-network/23388/?fbclid=IwAR3iICb0qbAqf2lZWoerrUxYTkKIIgBrd7qBs3EWtgReDadvT54I9BoEDi0

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/

 ​https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200724-why-imposter-syndrome-hits-women-and-women-of-colour-harder 

https://www.fidi.org/blog/expats-with-disabilities?utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=socialseeder&utm_campaign=2020+07+%2F+01+-+Expats+with+disabilities%3A+why+the+lack+of+accessibility+is+holding+us+all+back

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

Human Rights Campaign Foundation. (2021, April. 23). World Report 2021: Human Rights Watch Country Profiles: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved June 04, 2021, from
https://www.hrw.org/video-photos/interactive/2021/04/23/country-profiles-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity 

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