For talent, moving for the right opportunity is definitely on the table; surveys indicate a majority of workers are willing to move to advance their careers, but employers may be lagging behind the mobility trend. Whether it's a geographic move, an internal one, or work that can be done remotely or at multiple locations, mobility programs are on the rise for a host of reasons.
What is a mobility program?
A mobility program encourages employees to move within the company to various locations, often including global roles, Monster Career Expert Vicki Salemi told HR Dive in an email. "Programs often have incentives such as repatriation commitments, so the employee doesn't feel like he or she will be out of sight, out of mind. Commitments in writing show the employer's dedication to the employee's growth and career."
Peggy Smith, Worldwide ERC president and CEO said these programs allow employers to amplify and leverage available talent by design. "It encompasses the processes, services, people and companies involved as employers transfer talent domestically from one location to another, or send employees on global assignments," she wrote HR Dive in an email. "Talent mobility enables companies to fulfill strategic business objectives and simultaneously grow the leadership skills and enhance the careers of individuals in their workforce."
Other experts agree. According to Zoe Harte, SVP, head of human resources and talent innovation at Upwork, mobility programs are absolutely vital to organizations that aspire to attract and retain talent and compete in the global economy. "Talent is their most precious asset, and workers today have more options than ever when it comes to how and where they work," she wrote to HR Dive.
Today's worker doesn't want to be stuck in a cubicle or feel they have to put in "face time" at HQ: "[Both] the employee and the business can benefit from time in other roles or locales as they can inspire new perspectives and insights," Harte added. "While there can be social benefits to going into an office, it's no longer essential to getting a job done."
How can employers manage mobility?
Smith advises most large employers to have an internal team or worker manage its mobility and services. They can manage aspects like helping with the logistics of a move, resituating families in a new city or offering tax and legal advice. Smaller employers might enlist the help of outside nonprofits that specialize in relocation if they lack the internal people power to handle mobility services.
Harte said mobility programs should have a clear scope of work and benchmarks for success. These should be co-constructed by the employer and the worker to ensure everyone is working toward success, she added, whether the employee has transitioned to remote work or moved to another time zone. More importantly, Harte noted, an employer should establish team calls, video conferencing or some form of structured communication to keep members of the group aligned on the transition and the work.
Finding the right fit
Salemi noted that the tight labor market may make mobility programs more attractive to employers that want to retain workers, and said that employers can market their mobility programs internally to show top talent that they have freedom and options. It can also be a way for employers to recognize workers who excel, Salemi said.
However, not everyone works well in remote situations, Salemi cautioned: "Not everyone is a self-starter, not everyone wants the flexibility or thrives in it." For those workers who do, she noted, it's important for employers to understand their strengths, weaknesses and their current level of job satisfaction. Another challenge for employers can be cost, particularly if they're considering global mobility programs that will need to factor compensation packages and tax equalization, Salemi continued.
Smith encouraged employers to seriously consider global mobility programs, even with the difficulties they could present: "The mobility of people and the fluidity of work is here to stay," Smith wrote, "and the global economy is predicated on this kind of movement. There are far more opportunities for growth and business expansion than there are concerns."
Mobility today and tomorrow
"Technology continues to change the options available to manage a mobile workforce," Smith said. Employee preferences are another shift, so leading organizations have adapted with work-anywhere tools, on-demand information, evolving benefits and global and entrepreneurial opportunities, she continued.
An increasingly globalized marketplace expands opportunities from brick and mortar offices, pushing organizations to think beyond time zones and geographies, Salemi said. "Since remote work is much more viable," she added, "it's important to focus on the quality of work getting done, instead of where and when it gets done."