status quo

Why Global Mobility Is Becoming the Status Quo — And What That Means for Specialists Like You

Watch out!  Global mobility work, which was once seen as a cutting-edge professional discipline, might soon become the status quo. That means you, as a global mobility specialist who had helped pioneer this particular area in your workplace, will have the advantage over most of your colleagues — and can have a key role in the improvement of your company. You are well aware of its various aspects, the challenges looming and the skills necessary to meet them, and the dynamics of cultural and regional differences that are not as pronounced in a U.S.-based company.

Be prepared to be called on more often by your bosses and co-leaders as they themselves try to navigate in this brave new world. Your knowledge, experience, and not to mention considerable network of professional connections can give you influence as well as a certain leverage in shaping your organization’s new directions in global mobility, as more companies are beginning to realize the value of a globally mobile workforce.

It doesn’t matter if their assignments are fielding American professionals into other countries (which was once called expatriate assignments) or hiring foreign talent to relocate into and work in cities like San Jose, California and New York City (among others). The time frame can also vary from long-term, e.g. at least a couple of years, to short-term, as in just a few months. What is clearly emerging as a trend is that companies are moving talent from various places around the world into their U.S. offices, and vice versa.

According to Santa Fe’s 7th annual Global Mobility Survey Report, entitled “Embedding Business Strategy in Global Mobility,”  90 percent of the business executives acknowledge that an internationally mobile workforce is critical to their success. Two more different surveys cited by The HR Technologst echo this opinion, with 51 percent of their respondents saying that the international assignments helped boost the performance of their respective organizations as a whole. Another 44 percent of the participants said that the skill levels of their staff who had been given these assignments likewise developed to a significant degree.

How can global mobility specialists like yourself help your companies move more smoothly and efficiently into this sphere while reaping its benefits?

First, you can help create strategies that can maximize the learning experiences of your assignees and expatriates, while making sure that these new knowledge and skills provide a positive impact. More than any of your colleagues, your understanding and insights of all things global can help make your executives make the right decisions when it comes to global business expansion, recruitment of talent, and deploying the right people into the right assignments. You can advise them first-hand of the challenges that the staff can encounter in certain regions, while opening their eyes to the opportunities that can possibly await them in others.

Second, you can influence your organization to make your corporate culture more inclusive and respectful of diversity. You can take the lead in creating programs that will  foster leadership and strengthen espirit de corps, while reducing the cases of prejudice and bias. Issues of gender, age, marriage or partnership, family, race, and ethnicity are hot-button topics that would be difficult to handle in any given organization. However, the exposure of more staff to more foreign talents and their environments can open the door for management to be more active in this area.

Third, you can actually cultivate a culture of learning where your best minds from all over the world can collaborate and exchange ideas to possibly come up with innovations that can further sharpen the company’s competitive edge. Learning is a prerequisite and it never truly stops. Foreign and domestic talent alike can share their knowledge and skills in a way that will build trust while enriching the organization as a whole.

Once globally mobile workforce becomes an integral part of corporate America, you will find your role evolving as well — from specialist to global leader. Seize the day and embrace the opportunity. As you expand your company’s role internationally, you just might find your career rapidly advancing as well.