Not enough employees willing to be internationally mobile

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RES Forum research finds that global mobility must be smart, agile, flawless and efficient

Around a third of organisations currently have less than 60% of the number of employees they need for international assignments willing to be internationally mobile, according to Michael Dickmann, professor of international human resource management at Cranfield University.

Speaking at the RES Forum's 2018 annual report launch event, author of the report Dickmann said this is putting global mobility (GM) teams in a position where they have to actively look for employees to send overseas. Employers must therefore appeal to employees’ reasons for wanting to take up an international assignment, he said.

When expats were asked what their main reasons were for taking on international assignments, career and development was the most important reason, followed by family, and then money, the research found.

However, employees’ reasons for leaving or staying at the organisation when returning home showed a different set of priorities. The research found that being more marketable to competitor organisations was the key reason returners leave, followed by money, then their career no longer meeting their expectations.

“It seems that money is more important on returning than when going overseas,” Dickmann commented.

He went on to recommend GM professionals in organisations with too few employees willing to take on international assignments focus on a number of steps, including shaping the organisation’s global employer brand.

“You need to think about how to use GM to be attractive to external candidates before they even work at the organisation, so that you are attracting and recruiting employees who are joining because they are interested in the opportunity to have a global career,” he told the audience.

“Lots of people actively look for this opportunity when looking for jobs so this should be promoted on the company website.”

GM should also increase the attractiveness of global work by focusing “not on money but on being creative and offering other opportunities”, designing a career system that rewards GM success, and planning repatriation early as “people want to plan where their children are going to go to school the following year”, Dickmann continued.

The report also found that successful GM strategies, structures, policies and practices exist when the four conditions of smart, agile, flawless and efficient are satisfied, together creating what Dickmann defined as 'SAFE' GM. Giving the example of 'smart,' he explained that this is where GM understands and devises high-quality global talent management and organisational development.

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