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Global Mobility: The Key to International Business Expansion

What is global mobility?

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Fundamentally, global mobility is the transfer of employees from one country to another. On a wider scale, it may also refer to the framework companies put in place to ensure international employee transfers – for the purpose of business expansion or otherwise – are smooth, compliant, and successful.

When a business is globally mobile, it is typically better equipped to cope with the various demands of international business expansion, including: immigration, labour and tax law compliance; employee satisfaction, recruitment and retention throughout the relocation process; international payroll; and any additional relocation logistics.

Traditionally, global business expansion mostly demanded travel and relocation from high-ranking executives, to ensure the continuity of a company’s operations overseas. Today, however, relocation operations have become more frequent and, oftentimes, more complex. The reason for this is two-fold: on one hand, a more globalised approach to business demands an increase in travel and relocation; on the other, remote work culture and the rise in popularity of asynchronous working make relocation a more tangible goal for employees.

As a dedicated business function, global mobility is important to help companies cope with the increased need and demand for international relocation.

Global mobility benefits

There are a number of major global mobility benefits to consider, before fully appreciating the importance of global mobility strategies and their implementation.

1.     Future leader development

With a fully-developed global mobility strategy, employees can be offered opportunities to travel or relocate, and thus to learn, experience new cultures, and develop themselves and their skillset. As such, global mobility can facilitate the development of future leaders on your payroll.

2.     Attracting top international talent

Global mobility opens the door to the global job market and an international talent pool with, by virtue of its size, a higher average quality of candidate.

3.     Retaining talent

Companies with comprehensive global mobility strategies and employee packages are better equipped to retain talent. With the framework for global mobility already in place, employers are more able to meet the future needs of their employees. For example, an employee who wished to relocate to Ireland for family reasons would not, in a globally mobile company, be forced to choose between their job and the move.

4.     Developing a global mindset

The future of business is indeed global, with Deloitte reporting that 71% of millennials expect an international assignment over the course of their career. Despite this, the same report shows that 73% of companies do not maintain a candidate pool for global relocation. Understanding and employing global mobility measures within your organisation helps your business to develop a ‘global mindset,’ better enabling you to move with the times.

5.     Ensuring compliance & mitigating complication

Global compliance is typically one of the larger hurdles to overcome when a business expands internationally. Even in cases where global mobility is not linked to business expansion, compliance is key in order to ensure authorities on the ground don’t perceive the relocation of an employee as such. There is a web of legal, immigration and tax issues to navigate with any relocation project, but they don’t have to be a hindrance. A considered and well-researched global mobility strategy can help improve compliance wherever in the world you do business, whilst mitigating associated complications.

The importance of global mobility strategies – preparing for the future

What is a global mobility strategy?

If global mobility is the international transfer and relocation of employees, then a global mobility strategy is the tool required to achieve it.

One of the most important things to remember when considering your own global mobility strategy is that it must be tailored to your specific business goals and operations. Simply borrowing a strategic template from another enterprise will not work. The same goes for strategic workforce planning.

It is equally important to be aware that developing an effective global mobility strategy takes a lot of time and resources. Whilst this initial investment may seem more laborious than planning transfers and ad-hoc travel is, it will benefit you in the long run to have a tailored system for employee relocation and recruitment in place.

Why is it important to develop a global mobility strategy?

Remote work culture is becoming the norm, rather than the exception. A global mobility strategy can be key to keeping up with the demands of this new trend, as well as those of international business expansion. We’ve already looked at global mobility benefits, but what about the importance of a global mobility strategy?

  • Culture shock: It’s crucial to remain cognisant of the human factor in your plans for global expansion. Acclimatising to a new culture, language, cuisine, currency, and climate can be a shock to the system for even seasoned travellers – especially when relocating temporarily or permanently. A global mobility strategy prepares employees for the change to come, and is there for them during the transition.
  • Remote workforce management: Managing a global workforce requires a whole new set of skills, technologies, and employer-employee expectations. Baking workforce management, as well as recruitment and retention, into your global mobility strategy acts as a handbook for all future remote management scenarios.
  • Labour, tax, and immigration law: Workers’ rights differ from country to country, and it is the duty of international employers to be aware of, and adhere to, these local laws. Both you and your employees will also be expected to make different tax contributions, depending on the countries you operate in. Finally, immigration law dictates which visas a foreign national will need in order to work in a given country. An effective global mobility strategy makes plans to ensure full compliance with all relevant international and local labour, tax, and immigration laws for the country (or countries) you intend to relocate workers to.
  • Paying overseas employees: There are various ways you can pay employees working abroad, each with their own set of pros and cons. It’s important that provisions for global payroll are included in any successful global mobility strategy. These plans should also include retirement and pension considerations, as well as any other relevant benefits packages, so that the relocation candidate has full transparency with regards to their future with the company.
  • Navigating the logistics of relocation: Last but not least, a global mobility strategy is of course important because it lays out the blueprints for the logistical side of international relocation. A truly effective global mobility strategy will help employees relocate smoothly, and settle with ease into their new surroundings, offices, and teams.

The most important considerations for effective global mobility strategies

We’ve delved deeper into the subject of global mobility strategy development elsewhere on our blog. For now, let’s revisit some of the key considerations you can make when preparing your company or enterprise for global mobility.

Supporting staff

One of the cornerstones of global mobility is the support of employees throughout their relocation process or international travel. Here’s a brief look at some of the value-added services you can consider offering staff, in preparation for an international assignment project:

  • Salary benchmarking: Developing a competitive salary and benefits package to accompany the relocation, informed by those of your competitors and pay trends in the local market (this also aids employee retention and helps you attract the best talent from around the world).
  • Relocation services: Arranging accommodation, transfer of employee’s personal belongings, setting up accounts with utility providers, organising travel.
  • Destination services: Helping your employees to open bank accounts in the destination country; searching for reputable schools for their children; helping their partners find work.
  • Cultural awareness training: Preparing your employee for the cultural nuances of their destination, including polite mannerisms, socio-religious norms, etc.
  • Language training: Putting employees relocating to a country with a different national language through an appropriate language course.
  • Pet services: Arranging for the relocation of pets, and providing information on local vets and pet-care services in the area your employee is moving to.

Asynchronous working

Expanding across international time zones naturally carries with it a unique set of challenges with regards to employee communication, work styles, and deadlines. When developing a global mobility strategy for your business, it’s worth considering the many major benefits of asynchronous work, also known as ‘async working,’ whereby work is decoupled from the constraints of time in order to maximise productivity, and improve your business’s elasticity.

Investing according to each global mobility project’s projected value to the business

Historically, trips abroad – to establish new subsidiaries, make commercial connections, research new markets – were each planned individually. Without the wider context of a global mobility strategy, it was harder to judge whether the cost of these trips could actually be recouped. By considering the potential value to your business of each international relocation project, you can fund different frameworks designed to ensure ROI.

Consider engaging the services of a global mobility partner

Engaging in effective global mobility would typically require the creation of a global mobility team. In larger enterprises, this may mean the creation of a permanent new department, requiring additional resource and managerial commitments from head office.

There is, however, another option. Global mobility partners like Mauve provide a wide range of international business expansion solutions to SMEs and larger enterprises alike, enabling leaders to concentrate on the big picture, whilst they manage the details.

Mauve Group’s global mobility services include global payroll, visa and immigration, and value-added services for employee wellbeing, recruitment and retention, as well as Employer of Record and global business expansion services. If interested in learning more, contact us today.