When the Global Mobility Engine Starts Through…

„Mobility is finally making the shift from an international benefit provider to an appreciated strategic partner to the business.“

Chris Debner

 

Like ever so often in Holland events start with a slight delay because of traffic. The Swiss in me rebels but I tell her to enjoy the tropical atmosphere of the Royal Tropical Institute. I check out the remainders of colonialism: masks, spears and painted world maps in white marbled halls. The smell of adventure still hangs in the air. Here we meet the pioneers of Global Mobility, the seafarers, discoverers, and conquerors. At the time with weapons and bribes, now with the promise of prosperity. The UN Global Goals are printed on the beer coasters as if to remind us that we have moved on, that we are now looking for „peace and prosperity for all people.“

Inge Nitsche, CEO of Expatise Academy welcomes the Global Mobility folks to the New Year, launches the brand new Expatise Global Mobility Online Certification Course of the Expatise Academy.

Inge then kicks off the day by setting the scene. Inge poses the question if we are in transformation or being transformed. She asks if we are under siege. Before we get our seat at the table we need to check if we are still on the right track.

Do we still fly up or are we going down or do we have to do a restart in the air to land in a better place?

Key Note

Chris Debner opens the session explaining what a Global Mobility Strategy is made of. The elements of policies, processes and operating model. He shows us the building blocks from business objectives, stakeholder needs, assignment types, talent management & workforce planning, competence and capacity, culture to competitiveness, trends and external influencers.

Chris summarizes the paradigm shift in Global Mobility leading us from a compliance focus to a purpose-driven mobility, improved employee experience and increased outsourcing of transactional tasks and dedicated compliance functions.

Then he continues to explain how the needs of Gen Y (instant gratification, clarity, flexible approaches) will change mobility policies to customized packages for everyone. I also predict that this will happen. What I like about Chris’s presentation is that he is realistic. He knows where GM Teams currently struggle and proposes three key challenges:

  1. Skillset
  2. Time & Resources
  3. Engaging with the business.

As suggestions to work on these challenges Chris sees three points

  1. Invest in your training, education and work with a flexible workforce.
  2. Build the business case for change
  3. Collaborate with other areas outside of HR, invest in change and meet the business line managers to find out how you can provide values.

 

Open Discussion

I get up to facilitate a peer consulting exercise. This exercise helps with listening skills, ideally solves one current issue of a participant and helps participants to build trust amongst each other. Afterwards, we have coffee. I listen in on conversations. I understand that we face similar challenges in Global Mobility here and in Switzerland.

One difference might be the European Union context. It also seems that Brexit is more prevalent in Amsterdam. Companies shift their presence to Amsterdam, rents increase, „knowledge migrants“ flock the city, the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) directive is leading to more migrants and the city seems diverse. What I immediately notice in comparison to events in Switzerland is that I do not feel so old. I am sort of middle-aged here. I see grey, and white hair. I like it.

After the break, we split up into two discussion groups and look at Concerns, Challenges, and Opportunities.

 

Lunch is a standing lunch with sandwiches. What I find interesting is the different types of industries that are present. We see different challenges and different views on GM.

Afternoon Sessions

In the afternoon Bettina Tang presents a tangible step-by-step approach on how GM Leaders can learn to engage with their stakeholders. Bettina brings in the perspective that alignment between legal requirements and managing expectations of the assignee and family.

She also explains that the organizational structure matters. The closer you are to the CEO the better. It important to understand the persons you are dealing with and to know how to build relationships with them. As mentioned she introduced a tangible model, easy to follow.

Bettina also urges us to get the basics right because assignees that are constantly complaining are not helping your credibility. I also took away that if you would like to be invited to the party, you don’t wait for the invite. You find a burning platform, address and solve it and then you claim your seat at the table.

Next on stage is Michael Joyce from AIRINC. He, first of all, apologizes for all the Brits coming to Amsterdam on a weekly basis. Not sure what they are doing but I assume they come to the party. Michael shares data. He claims that the pathway to the seat at the table is hard figures. It seems fine at times of fake news.

He brings examples of clients where either an internal perspective based on data (on housing cost, security, and education)  or an external perspective (a benchmarking that revealed that only 2% of companies in the survey applied negative COLA fully) gave the GM Leader the right to be invited to the table. This means that we all must upgrade our metrics (46% of their clients are doing that just now – you feel the pressure?). He also mentioned that 59% of all companies measure some aspects of assignment success.

A new trend in data is predictive metrics such as the retention rate after assignment, assignee satisfaction after assignment, job promotions and job performance rating after assignment. In an example case, AIRINC was helping the client to show the correlation of these metrics with performance.

And while these correlation factors might not fall within your remit, they are helpful data for management. I would include repatriate retention here.

Finally, Chris Debner concluded with showing that change does not always have to be transformational. There is also incremental change, where you target a specific aspect of your program and optimize that.

The room is full of mobility professionals. When I take my eyes of my notebook, I see eager faces. A few a bit drained of energy but most of us engaged as we want to understand how we can provide value to the business, how we can help the business with its transformation programs and where to start. A few suggestions include

  • Cost reduction
  • Easier administration
  • Improved employee experience
  • Fewer exceptions and conflicts
  • Lower risk exposure and
  • Reaching organizational objectives.

It’s almost 4 pm and I have not connected to WiFi yet. The temptation was there but I am trying to keep fully present. The next group exercise is a marketplace where the workshop on International Business Traveler compliance joins us. I speak to Maarten from PwC about the tax news and he tells me about a risk framework he is taking to customers. I ask him if he is willing to share it.

I smile as I am reminded of the early days in a role I took on in 2007 when I had to develop such a risk framework myself because I did not know where to find it online. Maybe it also did not exist then. Now, it’s just a matter of a short conversation.

The voices in the room with now around 50 professionals do not want to die down. We chat, we like this. Inge Nitsche decides to clink her water bottle and the birthday boy Ernst Steltenpoehl commands our attention. She closes the event on a positive note and invites us to drinks in the restaurant of the Royal Tropical Institute.

And while I order a glass of wine I look at the people of different cultural backgrounds in the room from India, South America, Europe and the Middle East and I’m hopeful that we Global Mobility folks may set an example and that we can help our businesses succeed in any country in the world.

If you are interested in having a conversation about the topic mentioned please let me know.

Kind regards

Angie Weinberger

PS: If you are looking to move into a new role this year, I would like to invite you to an exploratory session of HireMe!



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