Why Companies Need Dual Careerists, Returnees and Other Mobile Talents

Part 2 of 2

New buzzwords and concepts in global mobility continue to emerge on account of globalization and demand for talents everywhere. It helps that most young talents are more mobile and flexible than ever, which allows recruiters and companies to dangle a good compensation package in their chosen destinations.

Olivier Meier of Mercer noted how these buzzwords have become more relevant in the current environment and why companies need to catch up so they can stay ahead in terms of finding the best talents out there.

Lump sums

Lump sums are now more commonly used as part of flexible compensation models and to deal with the complexity of current assignment patterns. This approach could be used to create results from family, personal, generational, and country-specific situations.

Duty of care

Duty of care is an organization’s obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees ­– to avoid and actively protect employees from foreseeable injury.  The question of duty of care is coming back in force due to the increased use of flexible approaches and the rapid development of short-term assignments, business travels, commuter assignments, and other forms of assignments taking place under the radar.


The impact of technology is already being felt in daily operations. Employees expect online self-service tool and 24/7 services. Examples of digitalization includes compliance tracking device, and chatbots answering most common mobility questions. These technological developments go hand in hand with real time mobility data reporting and the increasing use of detailed mobility metrics.


Metrics help provide a common language and bridge the gap between departments (e.g. HR and finance.) Metrics can also help with assignee diversity: a few cruel figures showing how certain employee groups are underrepresented in the expat workforce can jolt organizations more effectively than a thousand words.

Data management

The European General Data Protection Regulation aims to make personal data and privacy and information more secure for everyone. For this reason, there is a need to acquire, validate, store, protect, and process data to ensure the accessibility, reliability, and timeliness of the data for its users.


It’s not just about increasing the number of females in the workforce, but ensuring that the increasing number translates into a real participation at the managerial level and contributes to breaking the career glass ceiling. Similarly, the inclusion of minorities implies their active contribution in the business decision process and corporate culture.

Moving talent between jobs and between geographies plays a key role in fostering inclusion. Mobility management teams should be at the forefront in the fight for diversity and inclusion. For mobility teams, this is an opportunity to be involved in a strategic issue. Inclusion could also mean ensuring trailing spouses are more involved in the assignment the decision process that will indirectly impact their career.

Dual career management

Global mobility managers thinks of hiring individuals, not entire families. But they may need to think that an assignee has both a husband or wife and even kids. Both may have careers as they often do if they’re coming from other countries.

There is a steady increase in the number of dual career couples and greater participation of women in the workforce, which means men are discovering the downside of a “trailing spouse,” a problem that female professionals have faced for many years.

Wouldn’t you want your assignees to be happy? Even assignees’ spouses are happier if they get to work. A mix of existing solutions and a change in mindset goes a long way.

Returnees or re-joiners

Companies are offering the welcome mat to returning talents. These are people who have made a pause in their career or from a global mobility perspective, those who are moving back to participate in the growth to their countries of origin – the “returnees.”

There is a trend toward changing employers frequently, switching between career paths, and allowing individuals to market themselves globally. Under this model the ability to attract and retain gig workers or re-employ high performers multiple times is a differentiator.

Borrowing talent

Whether hiring local or locally hired foreigners, companies and global mobility managers need to add borrowing talent to their tasks. This is a euphemism for gig workers, freelancers, and contractors. Borrowing talent has become more common as more employees are willing to market themselves globally.

Self-managed mobility

The aspirations of the new generations who value more flexibility and lifestyle over rigid careers have resulted in what is now called self-managed mobility. This increased mobility of individuals opens new opportunity for organizations to tap into new talent pool (locally hired foreigners) as well as to decrease the costs associated with mobility.

Still, self-managed mobility also comes with risks — the disconnection between the business requirements of companies and the lifestyle expectations of highly mobile talents. Companies with lack of compliance and financing planning could affect them and their talents. Global mobility managers should also be aware that too much flexibility could kill flexibility without proper planning and education.

Portable benefits

Benefits – even flexible ones – are of limited value for internationally mobile employees if they are not easily transferable from employers to employers and from country to country. The traditional benefits model is very much designed for in-house employees with a clear career path. Expats traditionally suffer from fragmented pension history and the risk of incomplete coverage.

The risk is even now greater for international gig workers and new generations willing to market themselves globally and changing employers frequently. Governments and companies are exploring ways to increase the portability of benefits that workers can take from job to job.

It is a complex issue to solve at a local level and becomes even more challenging in an international context where the impact of tax, legal, and currency issues (among others) can limit the usefulness of these portable solutions.

Platform for talent

A degree of reinvention in terms of hierarchy, career management, as well as decision and operation processes is happening in forward-looking companies. This means mobility managers will see their role shifting from pure relocation to more integrated talent mobility management with a greater involvement in resourcing/recruiting and talent pool management issues.

Expatriate Employee Value Proposition

The war for talent is forcing organizations to differentiate themselves to attract top performers globally. One element of this differentiation is the development of more personalized Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) for both local and expatriate employees, reflecting their expectations not just in terms of compensation and benefits but also career, lifestyle, and a higher purpose that gives personal fulfillment.

A good EVP, both tangible and intangible benefits, can reinforce all elements of talent management, including attraction, retention, and compensation. An attractive lifestyle and a higher sense of purpose are no substitute for competitive pay, but they can alleviate some of the pressure linked to pay expectations.

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