It’s Time to Apply More Strategy to Mobility Planning

Feature , Strategy — By on June 28, 2011

For years, mobility assignments have been treated as an afterthought. Companies had a position to fill and they hurried to get that particular opening staffed as quickly as possible – often under the assumption that the employee would view the move as career development and accept the offer. Overall, there has been little alignment with talent development and the creative options that can be established to retain talent and make mobility programs a success. Times and businesses are changing, however, and smart organizations are starting to refocus their efforts.

Why now? There are several reasons why applying strategy is critical at this very moment. Motivating factors include:

1. Economic Trends
The economy continues to be the largest mobility reluctance factor. According to Atlas World Group’s 2011 “Measuring a Moving World Survey”, housing and mortgage concerns remain the primary reason for relocation declines for the third straight year. For large firms, 85% reported that employees declined relocation for this very reason. Thus, temporary housing benefits, relocation bonuses, and loss-on-sale protection have become much more common policy inclusions.

Family finances also weigh heavily on mobility decisions – most specifically, dual-career incomes. Atlas’ survey reports that 46% listed the trailing partner’s career as a main concern, followed closely by 38% reporting anxiety over cost of living in the new location. These trends dictate a great need for inclusions like spouse/partner career assistance within policy to make mobility offers more appealing to first-choice candidates.

2. Demographic Trends
Demographics and priorities are changing significantly, having an enormous effect on mobility decision making. In fact, a noteworthy study performed in March 2011 highlights this shift. Kelly Global Workforce Index™ surveyed 97,000 participants in 30 countries to find that 77% of job seekers were willing to move to another country/region for the right job. However, 58% of those surveyed cited family/friends as the top reason to prevent them from relocating. No longer can organizations assume that their first-choice candidate will automatically accept the mobility offer to advance their career. Items like work/life balance and other social factors have become increasingly important to the workforce.

3. The War for Talent
Despite the fact that unemployment continues to hover around nine percent, the war for talent continues to be a contributing factor. Companies simply don’t have talent excess these days. A study released by Deloitte titled “Global Talent Mobility: The 21st Century Business Imperative,” cites that colleges will graduate only 198,000 students to fill the shoes of two million baby boomers scheduled to retire between 1998-2018. In addition, 20 percent of Fortune 500 senior executives are currently eligible for retirement.

Retention of your talent – your greatest organizational asset – depends on more robust mobility offerings with proper support for the entire family, consistent monitoring of talent pools, and creative options for career development.

Although still in its infancy, organizations are beginning to adapt their business models with a more strategic, proactive approach to mobility programs as they relate to overall talent management initiatives. Doing so offers significant benefits that help achieve business goals and, ultimately, improves their bottom line. These are the organizations that will survive and thrive in a difficult, competitive market.

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