The challenges of 2020 have forced us to reconsider how we socialize, work and live our day to day lives. With travel restrictions in place due to continuing global health concerns, global mobility has become more complicated than it was a short 18 months ago. This is even harder due to shifts in national policies on immigration and employment. These developments may pose a challenge to work-related global relocation for professionals. Below are some trends in global employee mobility and how we expect them to play out in 2021.
Lower Willingness to Relocate Internationally for Work
Over 57% of respondents to a survey in 2018 stated that they would relocate internationally for work. Though significant, this percentage represents a 7% decrease when compared to 2014. Reasons for this decrease were attributed to an increasingly globalized work-environment. Globalization, in their view, has reduced the need for professionals to uproot their lives in order to assume well-paying jobs. Other factors included tightening trade and immigration policies in the United States and Brexit in the United Kingdom. These developments have introduced uncertainty where business and job prospects are concerned.
Alternatives to relocation may include the introduction of more technological tools to supplement communication and track work-related deliverables, where an in-person approach may not be possible. Despite an overall decrease in willingness to relocate, over 90% of Indians, 70% of Brazilians and 70% of Africans said they would be willing to relocate for the right job. The data indicates that there may be a continued overall reduction in the willingness to relocate during 2021. This observation may not be across all demographics and some rebounding may occur in the last quarter of 2021.
Due to COVID, we are mostly seeing individuals and families pause their relocations, but begin culture and language training online. Since they know they will be moving when COVID eases up, they want to be prepared, and they have more time to learn the language now that they are working from home.
The Increasingly Important Employee Experience
Companies are continuously improving the experience employees have during their time with the organization. Companies are especially determined to improve the experiences associated with recruitment, on-boarding, career planning and exiting the company. For example, companies are constantly adding to their on-boarding strategies. On-boarding strategies include ensuring employees receive orientation, are able to establish points of contact and understand resources available. Companies also provide a timeline of expected events and milestones to newly relocated employees.
Other practical methods of enhancing the experience of the mobile employee include helping with their international relocation. According to one study, as many as 91% of participants in the United States would expect their employer to help in the international relocation effort. Expectations include cash allowances, housing assistance and insurance coordination. The method of assistance to employees has trended towards lump-sum payments in the past six years, with 58% of companies surveyed indicating this as a preference. This was in contrast to full reimbursement which has hovered at 35%.
Entering 2021, it is fair to expect that companies will continue to assist in relocation efforts and will likely do so via lump-sum payments. This posture is designed at offering an engaging, emotional, human-centered experience to employees.
Greater Demand for Spouse and Partner Assistance
The decision and process of international relocation are increasingly being affected by the ability of an employee’s spouse to also secure employment. According to one survey, this concern was voiced by over 65% of respondents. The services requested by employees were:
- Job networking opportunities
- Career services
- Resume preparation
- Payment for a work visa in a new location
- Reimbursement for Career Transition Expenses
Companies are understanding that relocation decisions and experiences are often complicated by family dynamics. The inability of an employee’s spouse to secure employment often led to a failed relocation.
Technology – A Major Tool in Global Mobility
Digital human resource solutions are playing an ever-increasing role in the work of professionals involved in global relocation. There is a wide array of mobile applications, online portals and dashboards designed to maximise the productivity of employers and employees. Technology tools can aid in providing in-depth information about a locale, or itineraries for flights, hotels and logistics.
One such app is the MyRelocation app which hosts a variety of decision making, tracking and expense management tools at the user’s fingertips. Technology also allows employees to communicate efficiently with colleagues in order to provide updates on assignments. Regardless of the challenges, technology will continue to play a part in increasing the efficiency of global mobility for the foreseeable future.
According to the Global Mobility Survey 2019, 61% of companies who facilitate the relocation process of employees plan to invest in new technology in the next 24 months.
The year 2021 may inherit some of the challenges that came with 2020. However, global mobility looks set to be a tool to be used by companies and industries for years to come. What will remain constant is the need for employees to be able to communicate across languages and cultures. Being fluent in a second language increases competitiveness in job hunting and allows the speaker to embrace an ever more diverse global workplace.
Talk to us at Fluency Corp, so we can help put your organization on the path to a successful relocation experience!