Weichert recently held a webinar to identify the top talent mobility trends for 2021 and discuss the issues and opportunities that companies will face in the coming year. I was proud to be part of the panel which also included Jane Everett, RVP of our EMEA Operations; Rocko Bouris, VP of Weichert Transportation Solutions; and Laura Levenson, Global Practice Leader with Advisory Services.
In this post, we present the collected thoughts of our panelists and the 200 corporate mobility managers and HR professionals in attendance, along with insights gathered from our Service and Advisory teams.
The overall feeling of the group is that the question isn’t when will mobility volumes return to pre-COVID levels, it’s what will mobility look like when it returns.
A Strategic Perspective
In 2020, we saw a reduction of workforce in practically every industry. Fewer candidates will likely bring more scrutiny of the value of mobility and the need for a more strategic outlook. This was echoed by attendees, who in our poll selected “more strategic approaches to mobility” as the trend expected to have the greatest impact on their programs this year.
The panel agreed that this is the time for mobility owners to ensure that their programs are truly global to accommodate a broader range of locations, move types and work models, including a hybrid remote/in-person approach. During the pandemic, employers got a first-hand look at remote work and the issues it created. Mobility managers will need to leverage their knowledge of the logistical and compliance issues that come with remote work to keep leadership advised of their potential impact on workforce strategies.
Jane offered additional insight on new work models from the employer’s perspective: “Moving forward, companies will need to be very thoughtful about how to attract and support talent. Employees may be reluctant to move to another country, even on a temporary basis, requiring additional support. Meanwhile, remote work has its own set of obstacles, from compliance to wellness concerns. In both scenarios, family-related assistance will take a more prominent role.”
In order to ensure duty of care and manage compliance, employers will also need to know their employees’ whereabouts. Mobility tracking tools have evolved significantly over the past year to deliver on a new set of expectations.
Cost and Value
The shift in talent is sure to fuel cost control initiatives. To that end, we spent a lot of time focused on one of the most visible line items in a mobility budget: Household Goods. Rocko clarified the external factors driving cost increases: “Prior to 2020, it was increased cost of materials and labor. During the pandemic, costs skyrocketed due to limited capacity for freight on airplanes and ships resulting from reduced travel schedules.”
For certain moves, companies may explore creative ways to reduce shipments, such as discard-and-donate programs and renting furniture in lieu of shipment. However, as Rocko pointed out, this isn’t always attractive to an executive asked to go on a long term assignment. While curbing this benefit may save in one area, there could be a negative impact on the employee.
Mobility owners are advised to not only look at costs, but to measure the overall value of mobility to the organization. Many are considering flexible programs as a way to address both. “Implementing more flexible approaches” topped the list of changes that companies expect to make to their program in the next year, selected by 76% of attendees in our poll.
Diversity and Inclusion
We rounded out the session by exploring the increasing importance of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiatives. A lot of companies have made significant progress over the past year; nearly half of attendees indicated in our poll that their organizations have established D&I practices and actively seek diverse candidates, including for moves and assignments.
If attendees thought technology has little to do with D&I, Laura explained how both are converging at an optimal time: “We have found that technology has leveled the playing field when it comes to D&I. Program owners using data analytics to understand their demographics can work better with talent and leadership to eliminate bias. When coupled with flexible programs, companies are better able to provide assistance to employees and promote a more inclusive program.”
If you’d like a video copy of our webinar or need further information, contact your Weichert representative or email us.