What the Gig Economy Holds for Global Mobility Managers

Global mobility managers hire their assignees for the long haul, but it’s only a matter of time before they bump into an emerging trend in the global workforce today: the gig economy. Chalk it up to the mobile workforce and smart, thinking machines which are already changing the recruitment and retention landscape.

In the gig economy, talents prefer to do freelance, consulting, and telecommuting work rather than sit and work in a brick-and-mortar office all day long; they prefer the freedom that this kind of occupation gives them, as opposed to the stability that a paycheck gives. They would rather be always open to options that they can dive into, and not necessarily be bound to the usual corporate ladder in career advancement.

The gig economy may not be one that global mobility managers interact with, but it will inevitably affect them. It is growing and its waves of influence from the very talent that drives it will impact sectors and industries, including human resources and global mobility.

One important thing to remember is that the gig economy is mainly composed of the millennials and the Gen-Zers who global mobility managers are keen on recruiting. To date, according to Tech Republic, 36 percent of the U.S. workforce have become permanent residents of the gig economy, while 46 percent of Gen-Z talents and workforce have made it their lifestyle and main source of earning.

Here are the ways by which the increasingly younger mindset prevalent in the gig economy can shape the opinions and preferences of the Gen-Z and millennial assignees:

A more participatory kind of career planning: Gone are the days when the company lays out the career ladder for the assignee which they are expected to follow. Younger talents want to have a say in the kind of jobs that they choose, and the kind of progress that they want to develop.

They will choose experience, adventure, and learning over stability often. An assignee might very well opt to select a lateral transfer if it means relocation to a more challenging environment instead of the traditional program that will make him stay in one place for years. They want to be able to air these preferences and concerns to the global mobility manager. They see carving a career plan as a partnership with their employers, instead of a platform for compliance.

Flexibility when it comes to arrangements: The tech companies in Silicon Valley and Northern California helped pioneer what is now known as the flexitime arrangement. Talents are measured based on their output and results, instead of the number of hours they punch in. Assignees have redefined that model further.

Instead of aiming for the more conventional assignment which will base them in one city for a decade with attendant perks, some of them might actually go for short-term two-year stints or a 5-day work schedule in a nearby foreign city that will allow them to commute home during the weekend.

Younger assignees also want to have a say as far as their housing accommodations are concerned. Some would go for the more stylish furnished apartments like what California Corporate Housing offers. Others might prefer actually renting a room or two from the locals in order to do full cultural immersion.

Finally, millennials and Gen-Zers will see upscaling their skills as part of their professional lives. Perhaps more than any other generation, they understand firsthand the speed by which technology is changing, and how it is rendering obsolete companies, structures, and jobs that cannot adapt.

The younger assignees will want to ride the crest of the change that AI and the Internet of Things are bringing. They will be keen on taking courses, mentorship programs, networking in business events, and undergoing training to remain competitive — and global mobility managers must more than meet them halfway in this area if they want to keep them.