Global Mobility Skills that AI Cannot Replace

Relax. Not all jobs will go the way of artificial intelligence or AI.

That assurance should calm the nerves of employees from all industries who are downright scared of being made redundant by intelligent automation. Stoking these fears are reports like the thorough research made by McKinsey which posts that 600-800 million people will lose employment in the next 12 years, as robots can or will take over their jobs.

What is particularly worrisome is that the threat of redundancy does not just apply to repetitive menial work done in hubs like factories, but it also extends to work that requires independent, intellectual analysis. As a result, professionals who occupy opposite ends of the carer spectrum, from doctor to marketer, are asking whether they will still have a place in this brave new world.

One of our blogs has taken a more sober approach, arguing that AI can complement human effort, and not replace it. This is true especially as far as human resources and global mobility is concerned.

For example, data nowadays can plot out whether or not a particular team can continue their high-powered performance in the next few months. But not all the online data can motivate those team members to take a more positive, confident approach when the going gets tough. And even if they did exist now, neither can human-looking biped robots act as cheerleaders-cum-drill-sergeants-cum-mentors the way that human resource managers and team coaches do.

Global Recruiting Trends 2018 highlights these two valuable skills that global mobility managers have mastered, will always employ for the good of their companies, and can never be matched by AI:

Relationship-building with assignees and candidates

A more advanced state of AI can spot promising assignees and recommend their hiring for management. It can also present said assignees a list of the perks and advantages that they can enjoy if they stay with the company.

It can even act as a source of information which assignees can consult when they have to make personal or professional decisions.

And while assignees can develop a confidence in the accuracy of the data that AI gives, they can never form a long-standing relationship with it, which is critical to their continual motivation and engagement.

At the end of the day, assignees — especially those who had been uprooted from their homes — need to know that they can trust their global mobility managers. This trust does not just mean a reliance on the precision of the information but on the knowledge that their global mobility managers have their best interests at heart.

That knowledge is built on years of empathy, trust, and a mutual give-and-take out there on the HR or global mobility battlefield. AI may have tons of data at their disposal, but assignees prefer to base their life-changing decisions on human beings who still have a heart.

Persuading candidates to sign the dotted line

Again, given the present state of AI today, it is far from being able to convince assignees to leave home and hearth to work in a foreign country. A cold factual presentation of the compensation package and security and health policies will not be enough.

Candidates will always have a hundred questions before they sign up. And even if AI can answer all of them such as schools where their kids can attend or how to acquire a driver’s license, humans who make decisions with far-reaching implications need to know they can emotionally bond with fellow humans who understand all the aspects of their concern:  emotional, relational, social, familial, and not just intellectual. Global mobility managers can forge that bond, but AI cannot.

Integrating the assignees into the company’s culture and the other native employees. Again, if it were just a matter of writing policies that will encourage diversity or inclusion of a foreign national into an American-dominated team, AI can certainly “type” it up.

But implementation is an entirely different game. Regardless of the company culture or the profession of the homegrown team that they will support the assignee, biases and prejudices still fester on both sides.

Acceptance of each other and their differences will take a lot of diplomacy, hand-holding, dialogue, and sensitivity that AI is incapable of right now.


Ultimately, the foundation of global mobility lies on very essential and irreplaceable skills that forge human connections. That can be achieved only by human global mobility managers, and not robots who may have the smarts but not exactly the heart.