Multinational organizations are reexamining their mobility practices to compete in the war for talent. But while rapid globalization has made a talent focus almost universal, in practice, it varies according to business strategy and organizational maturity.
Towers Watson and workforce mobility association Worldwide ERC® teamed up to survey mobility professionals across three regions on how their organizations approach the discipline, how their policies and processes vary — and how effectively their structures attract and retain key talent.
More Cross-Border Moves
Despite cost pressures imposed by a sluggish global economy, most multinationals expect their international assignments to increase through 2014, and only 18% envision them diminishing. More than half (54%) of multinationals headquartered in the U.S. — and 43% in Asia — expect the number of international assignments to rise. However, European organizations remain cautious, as 40% anticipate a decline, and 26% anticipate a drop.
European Multinationals Tend to Keep Moves Local, While Others Look to Asia
Sixty percent of Asian companies and 40% of U.S. organizations transfer employees to China for traditional expatriate assignments. Europe-headquartered companies transfer their expatriates to various locations — most frequently the United Kingdom and then Singapore.
On short-term assignments, European companies prefer to keep their transfers local: 50% move short-term assignees within Europe. However, Asia is the most popular region for short-term assignees at both Asian (85%) and U.S. (58%) companies.
Cost Is a Concern
Challenges to global mobility abound: Almost seven in 10 (69%) respondents cite prohibitive costs as a major hurdle, while more than half point at high housing costs (55%) and high cost-of-living allowances (51%). Immigration issues appear to be an issue for U.S. companies as well, particularly as they try to develop talent from emerging markets.
Top worries in assignees’ traditional assignments include education issues, cultural adaptability and tax issues. Nevertheless, cultural adaptability is often overlooked by employers — only 19% cite it as a challenge in selecting candidates for international assignments.