Today’s talent shortages are likely to continue unabated for years to come, and to be successful, a growth-driven company needs a global talent strategy. Mobility can be an important component of such a strategy.

In the U.S., nearly 6,000 Boomers leave the workforce every day, according to the Pew Research Center, and for companies looking to fill senior management roles, the succeeding Generation X is a markedly smaller group. At the younger end of the workforce, the Millennial generation is even larger than the Boomers, but there are still too few to meet the demand for specialized talent.

In most cases, a company focused on growth will find it difficult to find the quantity and quality of talent it needs in its own backyard. Additionally, in many cases, the company will find it hard to source that talent solely within the U.S. Even if appropriate talent were available within the U.S., a growing company that operates globally will want a more geographically and culturally diverse employee population to compete more effectively on the world stage.

Is Virtual Work the Solution?

Virtual work has helped companies to plug some of these talent gaps. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 5 million Americans work remotely—a number that increased by 159% between 2005 and 2017. While it seems likely that virtual work will become an increasingly important tool to fuel growth, it has never been a panacea.

For every employee that embraces virtual work, another finds working at home too distracting and misses the camaraderie of a live work team. On the company’s side, many positions still need to be in brick and mortar locations, and physical proximity can boost collaboration, creativity and synergy. In some cases, on-site talent is essential for launching a new location or plant, often in another country, and that talent is simply unavailable locally.

Global Mobility: The Talent Management Secret Weapon

Many growing companies have never considered mobility as a tool to bring their talent management strategy to life. They advertise open positions through all the usual channels, network, recruit on campus, offer bonuses to employees who bring in new talent and more. Often, they still come up short. Positions remain open longer than they should, hampering the company’s productivity and compromising its growth objectives.

Because mobility is an unfamiliar or even intimidating tool, companies do not realize how it can help them past these hurdles and allow them to focus on growing their businesses. Fewer companies have in-house mobility experts than in the past, but fortunately, mobility is an ideal service to retain on an outsourced basis.

A capable relocation management company (RMC) can help you to develop a mobility program that supports your overall talent management goals. They can advise you on current best practices, and importantly, give you a sense of the norms for your industry. This can enhance your competitiveness and attractiveness as a potential employer. In the most effective client/RMC relationships, the RMC acts as an extension of your company, becoming familiar with your talent management objectives, explaining the role mobility can play, developing policies and implementing the plan.

Talent Mobility as a Development and Retention Tool

While recruiting new talent is imperative, developing your current employees is essential if you wish to retain them. In the U.S., it is common to recruit talent from abroad (to the extent permitted by immigration laws), but fewer companies consider the benefits of giving U.S.-based employees the opportunity to work abroad. Millennials frequently cite foreign assignments as one of their top job goals, and making this a reality can be far simpler and more cost-effective for companies than in the past.

In years past, a traditional, three-year global assignment with executive-level benefits could have cost $1m or more. That meant that global opportunities usually went to more senior or mission-critical employees. Fast-forward to today where assignments are typically much shorter and Millennials do not expect the gold-plated relocation package their parents might have received. This opens up a wealth of opportunities for the employees and the company alike. Employees gain valuable international experience and new skills and the company gains better-rounded employees with a bigger stake in the company.


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