EY Research: Multinationals Not Effectively Deploying Mobility Programs

October 28, 2013 1:03 pm

Multinationals Not Effectively Deploying Their Mobility Programs
In Line With Their Wider Business Agenda to Drive Competitive Edge

EY Global Mobility Survey

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LONDON, 28 OCTOBER 2013. More than half (56%) of mobility executives working in multinational companies today reveal that their mobility teams are involved only in deploying services, playing no role in talent management and wider business objectives, according to a new survey by EY. This is despite an overwhelming majority (83%) stating that mobility has a positive impact on career progression, helping to create future leaders and drive competitive advantage for their organizations. Nearly half (42%) of the respondents say they do not even have a global talent management agenda.

The majority of mobility professionals are either on the outside, struggling to understand their future role, or are too busy with operational day-to-day tasks to elevate their role. Half of the respondents say their mobility team is understaffed. This operational burden is illustrated by the fact that 7 in 10 (68%) are preparing internal paperwork and sign-offs, while 69% say they are not involved in the assignee selection process.

Seventy-eight per cent of the 264 senior mobility executives interviewed for Your Talent in Motion: Global Mobility Effectiveness Survey 2013 reported that their mobility function did not measure return on investment (ROI). Most organizations also come up short in tracking what happens after an assignment ends – such as employee retention, performance rating and career progression – with 16% of assignees leaving the company within the first two years after repatriation. A further 41% simply are returning to their pre-assignment position.

Dina Pyron, EY’s Global Director, Human Capital, says: “With the globalization of markets comes the need to have talent that understands, relates to and can compete in these diverse markets. Mobility professionals can play a more effective role in strategic business planning, rather than focusing on immediate needs, to drive competitive advantage for their organizations.

“Mobility needs to be seen as a tool to enhance the talent pool, not simply an easy way to fill a vacancy without any strategic insight. The function must be connected or integrated with the talent management team, combining their specialist skill sets to improve the retention and development of top talent and potential future leadership.”

Organizations do not have adequate tax, payroll and immigration procedures in place, despite emerging market growth

The survey also reveals that many organizations do not have the adequate procedures in place to track tax, payroll and immigration issues for those on formal or informal assignment. This is despite almost half (49%) reporting deploying more employees into high-growth emerging markets, where laws are constantly in flux:

  • 40% report that they do not have a formal risk control framework to monitor payroll tax and social security compliance.
  • 31% report that they have had to engage outside consultants or firms to address violations.
  • Few mobility teams monitor ‘business travelers’, or those not on formal assignment, with 73% saying that they are not part of the global mobility team’s responsibility.
  • 73% are not using technology to track their people’s activity.
  • Only 30% have a system in place for tracking “business travelers.”

Kevin Cornelius, EY’s Mobility Services Leader, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, says: “There is widespread frustration with the fact that many businesses do not want to address the task of minimizing and pre-empting risk. Too often, there is a tendency to wait or be aware of a tangible negative consequence before deciding to act. Educating the business units outside of mobility to recognize the risk is a key first step, but it remains an enormous challenge that is likely to become even greater as we see more flexible working arrangements and increased travel outside of traditional expatriate assignments into the high-growth, emerging markets.

“For companies deploying more of their people into these emerging markets, such undeveloped mobility policies and processes are restricting their ability to manage talent and run an effective program.”

About EY
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