As the world becomes smaller and better connected, there’s greater scope for companies to expand across the globe. Economies are becoming increasingly international, and the work-from-anywhere culture is unlocking new potential. The move towards remote and hybrid working means organisations can have their pick of global talent and – with the right values – hang on to it.
But what does this mean for businesses that send employees overseas on expat assignments? We take a look at what global mobility is, and examine some of the key trends that are shaping the world of work and HR in 2023.
In short, global mobility is a term used to describe the process of moving people around the world for business purposes. That could be a UK employer with employees based in the UAE or a US multinational with staff based in the UK.
Mobile workers can relocate permanently to another country, be on long or short-term assignments abroad or regularly cross international borders.
A growing number of organisations – of all sizes – are seeing the benefits of expanding outside their home countries. They’re sending their own talent abroad to capitalise on international markets, promote innovation and win new customers worldwide.
For this to work, HR teams need a well-structured global mobility strategy in place. It’s vital to make the relocation process seamless and give employees and their families the support they need to settle into their new life overseas.
The pandemic brought seismic changes to the world of work, but one of the more curious developments has been the trend for workers to quit their jobs at historic rates.
The reasons for switching careers or dropping out of the labour force altogether are wide-ranging. But one common thread is that employee expectations have changed.
Many people have come to the realisation that a healthy work-life balance is a top priority – often ahead of salary and bonuses.
In today’s employee-driven jobs market, the result is that people are now more inclined to walk away from companies that don’t value them and their needs.
A recent PwC survey of employees in 44 countries indicates that the Great Resignation is set to continue, with 20% of workers saying they are “extremely or very likely” to switch employers in the coming year.
So, to survive the Great Resignation, companies will have to offer attractive workplace experiences. HR teams may need to re-evaluate their employee benefits packages and training schemes. That means offering employees choices in where they work, with tailored benefits and emotional support for those relocating abroad.
Dr Phil Renshaw, Leadership Expert at Coaching On The Go
The dilemmas in Global Mobility…
Working successfully with globally mobile employees creates numerous dilemmas or trade-offs. For example, Millennials’ desire to work overseas whilst at the same time wanting to reduce their carbon footprint.
A huge dilemma for businesses is that leadership skills develop more quickly, more deeply and more effectively through living and working in another country. And this includes a positive impact on the local non-travelling population. In theory, much of the work (the tasks) can be done virtually and through hybrid means, but without improving those leadership skills. In the ‘War for Talent’ businesses have to grow these skills to survive.
A focus on leadership at every level will set apart the winners of the future.
Let’s take a look at a few of the top trends that are shaping the global workforce, with input from Deloitte’s latest Global Mobility Trends report.
1/ Moving people to jobs
As the way we work becomes more mobile, it’s time to move beyond traditional career models. Talent will be encouraged to move into new roles, assignments and projects, often across different geographies.
According to Deloitte, 72% of executives think that “the ability of their people to adapt, reskill and assume new roles” is the most or second most important factor to navigate future disruptions.
Aurel Albrecht, CEO at Lano
It’s important for companies to be able to hire remotely. With such competition to find the best professionals on the job market, combined with the shortage of qualified workers, companies around the world are being forced to rethink their strategies.
They often can no longer find qualified employees in their city, region or even country – but they can often quickly find the right candidate in a foreign country. Giving their employees the chance to work from wherever they want is a huge advantage in the race for the best professionals.
2/ Remote working
The demand to work from anywhere will continue. For some, that could mean working on another continent, while others will want to work from home. Offering this flexibility is essential.
In many countries, job vacancies are at record highs and competition for talent is fierce.
So, to recruit and retain the best people, you’ll need to embrace remote and hybrid working and provide equitable relocation policies.
3/ Inclusive workplaces
Fairness and equity remain a top priority for organisations. Employees feel a stronger sense of belonging when greater emphasis is placed on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.
The Deloitte study shared some fascinating insights into diversity and global mobility:
- Women represent more than 40% of the global workforce, yet only 1 in 5 international assignees are female
- Millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025, and 59% are willing to work abroad
4/ Worker wellbeing
Health and wellbeing initiatives continue to be critical to maintaining a happy and productive workforce. Wellness should be ingrained in the fabric of your company culture at every level, not treated as a side issue. According to our recent research of ‘Worldwide work weeks‘, where we listed the best countries to work abroad, this is something that expats will need to consider when making the decision to up sticks and move to another country for work, as they may be surprised by the level of workplace benefits differing from what they’re used to.
Think about policies and resources that support employees’ mental, physical and financial health wherever they’re located.
5/ Immigration challenges
While global mobility is key to attracting top talent and skills, the immigration landscape has become uncertain because of the pandemic and Brexit in the UK. Border closures and tighter immigration rules have impacted local labour markets.
International companies must prepare for protectionist trade policies and amend their mobility strategy to make themselves more resilient to worker shortages.
6/ Data-driven digital workforces
As many tasks become automated, it’s helpful to have a standardised data platform to bring consistency and structure to mobile teams. Being able to learn, create and collaborate will ultimately achieve better results.
Currently, less than a quarter of organisations regularly measure global mobility’s value to their business through analytics or metrics.
7/ Commitment to sustainability
People want to work for companies that have meaningful ethical and sustainability strategies. Climate change, travel costs and COVID-19 have all caused businesses to rethink their travel policies.
Consider rewarding employees for reducing their carbon footprint, and invest in the latest videoconferencing technology as an alternative to short-term travel.
Tax can be a complicated issue at the best of times, but it’s even more challenging when you have staff based in different countries or regularly crossing borders.
Tax systems and labour laws vary significantly around the world, and many governments are tightening their grip on compliance. To successfully manage a global workforce, you need an understanding of the different income tax and social security rules in the countries and regions where you have employees.
If you don’t have the necessary expertise in-house, there are global mobility specialists you can partner with to ensure you remain compliant, as well as minimise costs.
Areas you can get advice and support in include:
- immigration law
- global payroll management
- tax equalisation – this is where employees don’t pay any more or less tax on assignment than they would have paid at home
Global mobility requires flexible solutions to support the growing demands of HR teams. But which online platforms do this the best? Here are a few of our favourites:
Founded in Berlin in 2018, Lano provides businesses with the digital tools they need to hire, manage and pay remote workers and freelancers from all over the world, making sure they’re legally compliant.
It can help you grow your global workforce in more than 150 countries, via one easy-to-use central platform. What’s more, it has guides and podcasts to help you navigate the ever changing world of work.
Another good example is Deel. If you’ve got a new hire in Germany or Brazil, for instance, Deel will set them up for work, help with the onboarding process and pay them in their preferred currency.
It will also take on all employment liability to make sure you’re compliant with local laws. Plus, there’s lots of online resources and webinars to help answer any questions you might have.
Mauve simplify the business of expansion. They offer an end-to-end solution, from planning a winning global strategy and facilities management to tax legal considerations and staffing.
Mauve group grew into a global business through it’s own strategic programme of international expansion, so their advice is built on experience.
6CATS International are a supplier of contractor management solutions to recruitment agencies, offering services in more than 70 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and further afield.
They offer services including setting up compliant tax structures and insurance cover, through to submitting timesheets and getting paid on time.
Other helpful relocation companies include:
Peace of mind when your team works remotely abroad
No matter where your team go, you can take one thing off your mind. William Russell offers international employee benefits that bring together health insurance, life insurance and income protection for your staff.
We’re also happy to answer any questions you might have about our world-class benefits packages.