War For Global Talent

Winning the war for global talent By 2020 it is estimated there will be a 10% shortfall in supply of highly skilled workers in developed economies worldwide[1].  Successful international businesses are deepening their understanding of the global employee experience, and taking action to become employers of choice.  Talent attraction and retention – particularly to relatively high cost/lower-wage economies at the bottom of the world like Australia and New Zealand – is not going to get any easier. Bridget Romanes, Principal of Mobile Relocation, recently spent two weeks travelling, seeking out the latest international research and thinking about global mobility.  Bridget wanted to understand what our talent competitor nations in the rest of the world were doing.   Beginning at the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) conference she took a deep dive into the out-of-work experience that is a key influence on the success of any assignment.  Then she went on to Europe to meet with thought leaders and investigate the latest trends and approaches in corporate global mobility. Here’s what she learnt:


Research by PWC shows that 73% of millennials expect and want to work overseas, so businesses are adjusting their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) for this cohort.  And it’s flowing through to re-designed mobility programmes.  This highly digital generation is used to information and support that is instant, flexible and specific.  Novel solutions are being generated, often small-scale and inhouse.  Examples include, Arup’s self-organised talent job swap platform (likened to Tinder for global mobility) or Accenture’s co-created graduate digital onboarding, learning and coaching platform.


The complexity of spousal needs continues to gain attention.  And rightly so as dual career family and spouse wellbeing concerns play an ever-increasing role in both decisions to take offshore roles and the failure rate.  Dr Anne Lessle’s research released at FIGT about spouse adjustment over time provides valuable practical information for designing and targeting spousal support to reduce assignment failure.  And it went on to win Best Research Contribution at the Relocate Global Awards last month.  FIGT did a deep dive into the NetExpat/EY work on spouses, with a key finding that assignees didn’t think their spouses were getting enough support from employers!


As talent becomes scarcer, and therefore more valuable, understanding and solving the causes of stress and anxiety for mobile talent is a priority.   Taking learnings from Customer Experience (Cx) and Employee Experience (Ex), clever mobility teams are seeking out ‘moments that matter’.  Compliance complications, family adjustment, cross-cultural issues and social connection rate are stressors which can fall outside traditional EX monitoring. Identifying these and acting to assist in times of intense stress for employees and their families gives outsize returns on employee engagement.


Successfully attracting global talent is only the first step.  How do we get the best out of the rich experience and different perspectives of an internationally diverse workforce?  And ensure that they feel fulfilled in their roles and stay?  Australia and New Zealand ranked in the top ten overall in INSEAD’s 2019 Global Talent Competitiveness, but not for talent retention specifically.  Talent churn costs business so it makes strategic sense to identify the globally mobile population as a target for inclusion policy.


The rush to adopt technology in the Global Mobility space continues.  Most value is being seen in assignment management and compliance where automation has been seen to improve processing practices while benefiting both HR budgets and employee experience.  The Big 4 accounting firms and relocation providers all actively offer technology as part of their multi-service platforms.  Smaller players and start-ups predominate for more specialized services like online cultural training and onboarding programmes.   There are no definitive answers as to the best approach – this is playing out through experimentation and experience.  There is a tension between the scale required for efficiency and implementation costs, and the need for businesses to be flexible and agile to meet differentiated and evolving employee experience needs. Also unclear is the tipping point between technology which improves employee experience and where the human factor provides added value in terms of connection, empathy and complex knowledge. Australia and New Zealand’s competitive advantages of lifestyle, safety and reputation continue to play a significant role in attracting talent.  But will these continue to be enough in the talent-scarce future?  Our businesses need to think strategically about how to compete with international businesses that are increasingly providing tailored and employee experience-driven offerings to global talent.

Published by: The Employee Mobility Institute (TEMI), June 2019



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