17 December 2018

The Impact of Digital Technology on Employee Mobility  

Global Mobility
employee mobility


Daniel McInnes

Since the term fourth industrial revolution was coined in 2016, digital technology has rapidly evolved the way we live and work. As reported by HR Technologist magazine, $14 billion was invested in HR digitization over the last year and the expectation to transform HR and employee mobility is high, but how can it deliver?

Benefits to employee mobility of digitization

When it comes to the world of Global Mobility, there are a multitude of benefits of leveraging a digitized Global Mobility program across business functions such as HR, L&D, Talent, and Finance. These can be broadly categorized as follows:

1.       Streamline processes and leverage efficiencies

2.       Control and compliance

3.       Data analytics and decision making

4.       Employee experience

5.       Giving back to the business

Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
The Role Global Mobility Can Play in Delivering a Diverse Workforce
Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
The Role Global Mobility Can Play in Delivering a Diverse Workforce

Streamline processes and leverage efficiencies

Global Mobility (GM) crosses multiple service lines with the need for numerous internal and external specialists with knowledge of the relevant subject, region, and jurisdiction. The result is a near overwhelming number of specialists involved in supporting an assignment, which can not only feel unwieldy for GM professionals to coordinate, but also prove time-consuming and confusing for an assignee.

Coordinating these internal stakeholders, and the information they hold via integrated online systems with digital workflows not only organizes this information but can ensure there is no duplication of efforts, activities occur at the right time and that necessary information is shared rapidly.

Control and compliance

  • Workflow automation

Oversight of all elements of employee mobility can ensure that time-sensitive items such as tax, social security, and immigration are flawlessly coordinated to near eliminate risk. Automated workflows can ensure that dependent elements of an assignment such as immigration compliance and payroll activation are linked to mitigate any gaps in the process.

  • Manual error elimination

Integrated international payrolls, can mitigate risks of manual error in areas such as benefits management.

  • Data security

Advances such as blockchain, big data, and legislation such GDPR are enhancing data security, necessary now all relevant information needs to be available online.

Data analytics and decision making

Data analytics enables data to drive more meaningful decisions, the volume of service lines and inputs gives scope for this to be of significant impact to global mobility, and allow global mobility to impact the rest of the business more meaningfully.

A multitude of different data points can be analyzed to identify statistically significant influences, whether that be for predicted spend or understanding the return on investment of different elements of employee mobility support.

Further reading

eProcurement is of increasing use, bidding platforms can be leveraged with service and price metrics incorporated to ensure the right service, at the right time at the right price across many services such as shipping, and temporary living.

Giving back to the business

Not only can data analytics derive business intelligence relevant to employee mobility, but once the data is integrated it can provide input to functions such as Talent and L&D to make decisions. Whether that be soft skills training to enhance retention or speaking the local language to an advanced level supporting progression.

Being able to share information on the global talent pool enables global sourcing of the right talent, with the potential to identify candidates most likely to thrive on a particular assignment.

The control from integrated digital Human Capital Management (HCM) tools enables agile decision making where you can be confident of complying with any internal or external regulations.

Employee experience

Employees now expect to be treated as customers and EX (employee experience) is of increasing importance. EX is being transformed in a plethora of ways: employee portals, information availability, omnichannel communication, and sentiment analysis are a few of these:

  • Employee portals

Employee portals are enabled by the integration of data from the internal and external providers can enable an employee portal, hosted via app, or web accessible 24-7 via smartphone so available anytime anyplace.

  • Omnichannel communication

Omnichannel communication via telephone, email, instant message, chatbot, video conferencing, can flex based on the type of topic and assignee’s preferred communication style to offer an increasingly personalized experience.

This can make immediately transparent who all the necessary parties are in a relocation, why they are involved and how they can support an expatriate.

Information can be made available automatically and “right on time” on the different processes with a choice of communication medium; video, audio, graphics, written to suit the assignee’s preference and lifestyle.

Timelines for moves can be displayed so that employees can have context around the next steps and understand when the relocation process will demand most time investment from them.

  • Sentiment analysis

Sentiment analysis and leveraging Net Promoter Scores (NPS) goes beyond traditional survey feedback and user sensing to create a quantifiable understanding of how to enhance EX and focus on enhancing the employee mobility experience in ways which will truly make a difference.

Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
The Role Global Mobility Can Play in Delivering a Diverse Workforce
Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
The Role Global Mobility Can Play in Delivering a Diverse Workforce

Soft skills training, from leadership to language and intercultural can be leveraged in an increasing number of ways whether that is a cost-conscious self-serve approach or ensuring the most appropriate trainer and syllabus is delivered, i.e., a Japanese national with experience living in Angola to deliver intercultural training via video link.

Increased information and control are enhancing the experience for many areas of assignment support:

  • Virtual reality home finding
  • Real-time container tracking
  • Streaming video from pet shipments
  • Core/flex policy selection
  • Employee triggered lump sum
  • Globally consistent expense reporting

Is digital technology the solution?

Digital technology is a phenomenal tool to support employee mobility, however relocating internationally can be one of life’s more stressful experiences. While technology can make right time information available, and enhance communication it lacks the empathy and context that a person can provide so complements rather than replaces the human element.

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