Is value at the heart of your global mobility programme?


A couple of weeks ago, a colleague and I presented at the first of our International Assignment Services seminars focusing on the ‘new normal’ for mobility. We talked about value being at the heart of mobility. Or, in other words, how do you make sure that you get what you want from sending employees to work abroad, particularly given the huge potential costs?

When Clare and I were pulling the seminar content together, we ran a short survey that the attendees completed in advance. The results were really interesting. As always with the seminar programme, we had some great organisations attending, spanning a range of different sizes and industry sectors. Most of the attendees worked in the global mobility function, but a number worked in other teams. That didn’t stop there being a striking unanimity in the responses to some of the questions. For example:

  • It’s difficult for people to identify the value of their global mobility programme. Only 18% believed that it provided value for money for their organisation.
  • People don’t really know what the real cost is of their mobility programme. Only 13% were able to ‘accurately quantify’ the total costs of their mobility programme. And half of the respondents could only make an informed guess or wouldn’t be able to quantify the cost of the programme without substantial effort.
  • Return on investment is an unknown. Only 10% measured the value or return on investment of an assignment after it had ended.

Expats are traditionally regarded as expensive employees; they’re often the first to go when a company is looking to downsize. So it surprised me that despite this expensive reputation – and the fact we’ve just been through an economic downturn – cost, value for money, return on investment etc. just don’t seem to have been a priority.

So how do I explain that? International mobility is becoming more complicated and more commonplace. I think most organisations want to make sure they don’t get it wrong, so compliance takes priority. Value and cost are important, but they’re pretty abstract and the complexity of a global mobility programme makes them hard to measure. But, as the saying goes, what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done. So, in my opinion, organisations should start to focus more on value and cost.

If you’d like to find out more about our seminar programme, or register for our March or June events on Tax morality, brand and mobility, please click here:

Richard Harryman | Senior Manager
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