Technology Can Make Global Relocation Smoother and Easier

It’s time to rethink the way we move talent.

Companies are well aware that global mobility drives organizational performance; of the 10,400 business people in 140 countries who participated in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 68% agreed that “a mobile workforce is an enabler of business and talent strategies.” Giving workers overseas assignments can develop an organization’s talent base, aid in opening new markets, and help retain high performing employees.

Yet there are also very real challenges. Employees considering a foreign assignment are facing a major life change, one involving issues that go far beyond the job itself. Asking a spouse to potentially change jobs; uprooting children from schools, activities, and friends; dealing with aging parents; even accommodating pets can make the decision complex and stressful. Then there are the logistical hurdles — selling or renting a home, finding a new place to live in the foreign country, cultural/language training, immigration, work visas, banking and finance, and much more.

Global mobility is complicated for employers as well. First, identifying the best individual for an overseas assignment is a formidable task. Staffing decisions are sometimes made with inadequate information about the full range of talent options available. As a result, organizations can overspend without meeting the business need, or miss an opportunity to optimize their talent investment. Second, the relocation process itself is highly complex and administrative. Global mobility teams are typically tasked with scores of internal and external procedures — immigration, relocation, taxes and communications with external service providers.

For global mobility leaders, the myriad details of global mobility draw attention from where it should be: on the assignee and the sending and receiving managers. In today’s highly competitive recruiting environment, talented workers expect their employers to provide opportunities for personal and professional growth. Job satisfaction and loyalty depend on positive experiences; a desire for new — often overseas — assignments, supported by a smooth relocation process, rank high on the list.

Technology can help

Digital tools can play an important role in this regard. The best aids are personalized, 24/7 platforms — available from any device — that offer advice, provide checklists, assist with travel logistics, and make information available about the new locale. People have high expectations for digital experiences these days, which is why such tools must rival consumer apps in simplicity and ease of navigation. Apps and online destinations should update relocation details on a regular basis and even support purchases natively where appropriate.

In nearly every case, family issues are paramount for the assignee. Finding schools, caring for parents, even navigating fragmented family relationships are all part of the equation. A digital mobility infrastructure can help assignees address these challenges, while demonstrating the organization’s concern for their well-being.

To relieve the stress employees associate with global opportunities, employers must look to impact the key “moments that matter.” Once presented with the opportunity, a global mobility portal or app can allow employees to research their potential new role, save topics for self-paced learning, and explore immigration, cultural training, and relocation issues. It’s even possible to incorporate virtual reality or augmented reality simulations that let the candidate “experience” the new locale.

The organization’s digital platform should also be a place where assignees and new hires can interact with the various internal and external partners involved with the new role. Having a single, go-to destination makes the process much more enjoyable—and demonstrates empathy on the part of the organization.

Centralized platforms can also give mobility specialists the ability to provide personalized, “high-touch” care without high manpower investment. They can automate many processes that are typically handled manually, thereby improving service and assignee satisfaction.

AI can help in choosing candidates

Technology can simplify logistical details and ease decision-making for everyone involved in a global job transition — including managers. New cognitive systems based on AI and machine learning help executives and hiring managers analyze candidates and shortlist those best suited for international opportunities. Experience, capabilities, performance, and potential are paired with data from a worker’s digital footprint, along with cost/risk analysis, to determine how potential candidates will fit into a specific opportunity. This information also helps during the presentation process by enabling managers to explain not only the role itself, but also how it fits into the candidate’s career path.

Communication is critical throughout the transition process — and technology can assist by providing immediate support through online chats, chatbots, and voice connections between assignees and their global mobility contacts. Virtual assistants help the employee prepare for the assignment and navigate specific logistical or regulatory procedures. Ideally, current or past assignees are available via voice, text, or chat to provide advice and support.

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Human centered mobility

The new way of thinking about global mobility is dramatically different from the past. It’s human centered, personalized, and predictable. It’s simple. It meets expectations that employees have for service, honed by their experiences as consumers. For employers, it moves the process from one of merely managing organizational and talent development risk, to one of creating human value. It can optimize the investment the organization is making in the individual, transforming the need from merely a staffing issue to one that creates a strategic return on investment.

With intelligent technology, organizations can turn what has historically been a stressful and disruptive career step for employees into what it’s meant to be: an exciting and rewarding experience. Instead of frustrating and dehumanizing the transition, digital tools can facilitate and add value. The world is becoming a smaller place—and for those accepting international assignments, the right technology can make the world a friendlier place as well.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of our legal structure. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Jonathan Pearce

Jonathan Pearce is a principal and leads Deloitte Tax LLP’s Digital Workforce | Mobility offering. His experience covers a range of global HR consulting, including functional transformation; international HR start-ups; and global mobility strategy, program design, and implementation, including harmonizing mobility programs following mergers and spin-offs. He regularly speaks and writes about the role of talent mobility in supporting business objectives.

Marc Solow

Marc Solow is a managing director in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice. Marc has a deep background and extensive experience consulting with clients to transform their Human Resources functions. Recently he has focused on helping clients design and build consumer-grade employee experiences utilizing digital technologies.