Where Does Workforce Mobility Belong in an Organization? 02.18.2022 | Jennifer Connell

workforce mobility

Remember that kid in college who you’d always see at parties, but never quite knew? The one who drifted seamlessly from group to group, always armed with a good joke or party trick, but never stealing the spotlight? The one you were happy to be around but never went out of your way to embrace into your social circle?

For a long time, this is how the function of global mobility has existed within organizations — simply co-existing and complementing other, more dominant business operations.

But the way we work is changing, and as the importance and reliance upon global mobility programs intensify, perhaps it’s time that companies give it the spotlight.

After all, mobility programs are certainly playing a more visible role in talent management and development strategies as the needs of the modern workforce evolve. Tomorrow’s workforce is hungry for skills and experiences, and purpose-built mobility programs are helping to keep this talent engaged. But these programs can only be effective with a strong team at the helm of the ship, leading organizations to look closely at whether or not their mobility team is strategically positioned in a space that allows for them to perform at their potential and best meet the goals of the organization.

In our recent webinar on projected trends for 2022, we polled a group of 180 corporate attendees, asking them where the mobility function resides within their organization. The majority of respondents revealed that mobility resides within Total Rewards (43%), or as a separate function in HR (31%). This tells us that there is still no clearly defined space where mobility can or should live. Much of this will depend on your organization’s operating structure, leadership style, corporate goals and even its culture.

relocation survey

So how do you know that your mobility function is currently living in a space that will foster its growth and strategically align with the overall goals of your organization? Start with these questions:

What is the intent of your global mobility program? Consider the current priorities of this function, specific to your organization. Is it to attract new talent, develop your existing base, or fill critical roles?

Do you have the necessary expertise to allow relocation to function effectively and meet these objectives? Compensation & benefits specialists, tax specialists, and counselors are only a few of the critical roles required to help orchestrate a seamless mobility program, maintain compliance and avoid costly errors. Do the people administering your mobility program have easy access to this expertise?

To what degree are your businesses operations dependent upon your mobility function? If your reliance upon this function has deepened, are you accordingly increasing your relocation budget, internal resources, and the number of mobility specialists? This has been a pain point we’ve heard repeatedly over the past year; with more companies leveraging their mobility programs as a critical tool to attract and retain talent, internal mobility teams are struggling to keep up with the increasing demands.

Are you measuring the success of your program? To prove mobility’s value as a contributing stakeholder to the success of your organization, you need to establish clear metrics of success from the onset and consistently measure your progression in pursuit of this goal. If something is standing in the way of your success, can you identify it and re-align the positioning of the mobility function to overcome this hurdle? For example, if your tracking reveals a high rate of turnover among repatriated assignees, perhaps Talent Management should be more closely engaged to monitor the continual development of assignees upon their return home.

Mobility can be a powerful catalyst for change and a pathway to develop the future leaders of your organization, but only if we’re giving it the room and resources to flourish!

Forward-thinking companies who take the time to re-visit the relevance and placement of their mobility function early on will be far better equipped to meet the dynamic changes to the workforce and industry that are projected for the year ahead.

Is your mobility team experiencing growing pains? Or do you suspect that the team may be more successful if they were living somewhere else in your organization? Talk to us!

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Written by Jennifer Connell


Jennifer Connell, SCRP, SGMS-T, is Vice President of Weichert’s Advisory Services group. She has over 25 years of experience in the workforce mobility and employee benefits industries and is a recipient of Worldwide ERC’s Distinguished Service Award. She has spoken on workforce mobility topics at industry conferences throughout North America and written for mobility- and HR-themed blogs and magazines worldwide.

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