The modern workplace is filled with personnel from different corners of the world, many of whom have relocated within the company to take advantage of opportunities to work abroad. Known as Global Mobility, this ability to move is a key attraction when it comes to talent acquisition, but it also provides challenges for HR with employee leave management.
It’s only natural that a growing company would seek to open offices further afield, and maximize business opportunities and reach the widest possible market. In fact, posting valued personnel abroad (or at least away from HQ) is very popular. Figures in the US reveal that US multinationals have employed around 34.5 million people around the world.
Of course, it’s not just the US that has embraced international employment. Global Mobility affects many different sectors, from financial services to manufacturing and from pharmaceuticals to international charities. For example, UK professional services company EY has over 200,000 employees across the world, in offices in the US, Mexico, India, Turkey and the Caribbean, while Irish international charity Concern has over 3,000 employees in 26 countries across the world.
As a result, HR responsibilities are greatly complicated. In the Global Workforce Management 2017 Survey, carried out by US immigration visa service providers Envoy earlier this year, some 70% of US employers have a department dedicated to global mobility, and have a formal mobility program.
But what are the benefits and challenges that a HR department faces when Global Mobility is taken into account?
Benefits of Global Mobility
The idea of global mobility is not simply about adding variety in the workplace. There are genuine benefits to be enjoyed too. Principal among them are:
- Employee Development
By developing a formal mobility program, a company provides employees with the chance to develop their own skills and experience by opening doors to other departments. As a result, the depth of experience available to the company expands, and the value of your organisation’s ‘Human Capital’ is enhanced, in both the short term and the long term.
- Employee Engagement & Productivity
With career opportunities available to top talent, companies enjoy a higher level of employee engagement. This is primarily because of the sense of ‘reward’ that employees feel. They know that achieving targets can lead to a positive career move in a more desirable location, like a year in Paris, Rome, London or New York. And with such rewards available, productivity levels are also increased.
- Greater Employee Retention
Global mobility is seen a key element in achieving high employee retention rates. This is because when employees know management is willing to draw from the existing internal talent pool to fill key positions, they see a brighter future there. In fact, according to PwC’s Talent Mobility 2020 Report, 71% of Millennials expect and want an overseas assignment during their career.
Challenges From Global Mobility
Traditional HR management methods have always focused on personnel at one or more locations within a particular region. It could also be expanded to handle national staff numbers, but with applicable employment legislation and employee rights the same across the board, employee leave management is at least consistent. But when locations cross international borders, employment legislation can vary, ultimately complicating the management process.
- Meeting Expectations
The very fact that 71% of Millennials want to work overseas during their career means that expectations are high when it comes to managing team staffing and personnel movement. In reality, employees now tend to expect an almost customer-like experience, one that will make them feel valued, wanted and altogether special. Getting a position abroad may be seen as a career opportunity, but relocating is a chore that the HR department will have to handle expertly.
- Employee Leave Management
When you have offices across the world, you have localised specifics to satisfy, such as national regulations, employment entitlements protected under legislation, and the web of national and bank holidays. The development of HR management software, such as our own AnnualLeave employee leave management tool, has helped greatly in easing the burden. This is because these very specifics can be inputted into the systems, saved and then applied automatically. This in turn makes compliance much simpler to achieve on a consistent basis.
Talent acquisition can be difficult enough, but when hiring a new employee to take a post abroad, the headache is only beginning. A raft of paperwork needs to be completed to ensure all of the necessary visa and immigration issues are properly dealt with. This often means sharing information on personnel, which also impacts privacy laws of the EU (see GDPR matters) as well as corresponding laws of the destination country (if outside the EU). The result can be delays, financial penalties and general disruption to business practices, all of which could prove extremely costly in the long as well as short term.