2018’s Top Priority is Addressing Security Risks for Locals, Expats

What can we expect to see in global mobility in 2018? Addressing security risks for local business travelers and expats amid global terrorism is top priority.

California Corporate Housing culled two sources’ projections that could not be any different — one from an edtech company called Learnlight and another from a more familiar fixture in global mobility, an international relocator called FIDI Global Alliance.

Learnlight pared it down to four things — privacy and security, diversity, talent development, and assignee experience.  FIDI shared it own exhaustive insights that covered its hopes and fears. Some of their concerns are similar, just worded differently.

Privacy and security need to be tackled in these troubled times

Not many want to talk about it, but global terrorism is a serious threat. While the business aspect of it is the least of most people’s concerns, the livelihood of many — managers, key executives, HR management, lawyers, accountants — has been impacted by it, especially if an expat is concerned mostly about safety than a job offer. Security policies are clearly needed.

Expats traveling on business need to be accounted for all the time. It may scare them off, but it’s better safe than sorry.

This is a top priority in 2018 that it almost supersedes other concerns. The safety of moving professionals is paramount and essential to keep the business of moving people around chugging along smoothly. Companies need to institute new policies, security briefings, and preparation for assignees. Crisis communication training is essential.

Global mobility managers need to more especially attentive to expats, making sure everything is okay with them, including their families. Reporting the whereabouts of assignees’ in public may just happen more often. However, they will definitely want to make sure that they are not invading someone’s right to privacy.

Companies may need to ask permission to monitor their assignees within reason and for the latter to permit them to do this as well. For global mobility managers, the challenge now is how to assure assignees that tracking them is not invasive but a way to keep them from harm’s way.

Of course, the assignees may balk at the idea of being constantly monitored. So it is up to global mobility managers to assure them that there is a line that cannot be crossed or they could experience some backlash for giving them too much protection and attention.

Since privacy is important to keep expats free to roam around wherever they go, another idea that would be less intrusive and effective is by asking them to report their whereabouts themselves. The ideal scenario for expats and global mobility managers is to make use of mobile technology to improve expat communication and collaboration, with the intent of using data analytics to improve measurements and decision-making.

Terrorism is not the only threat, of course. Global mobility managers needs to understand cybersecurity threats. Online, internet security breaches are happening more as we have witnessed for the past few years. Hackers are everywhere and can target important expats and executives’ bank accounts for personal gain which can affect the global mobility industry. Addressing all these now is crucial.

Younger professionals are more conscious of diversity

Talents are getting younger these days and they are more conscious of diversity, with the lack of women, ethnic groups and LGBT assignees in this industry.

There are still few of them in global assignments, so it’s also important to track this to avoid any misunderstandings later. Avoiding this can be detrimental for the company when everyone can read or post at Glassdoor, the site where employees can talk about the companies they work for or worked for.

Global mobility managers will need to address concerns about how the industry needs more diversity, while also facing the grim fact that other countries may be less tolerant of diversity. Homosexual activity is illegal in other countries. They would need to be sure of their disability policies for expats.

In 2018, public and internal pressure will force organisations to confront these difficult situations by formulating robust policies and procedures. With global terror threats and diversity as hot button issues, one may become overprotective of their talents, which will also not be good for everyone. On the other hand, talents may become too sensitive about it. There should be some way that recruiters and talents can find a middle ground.

Beyond diversity, though, the global mobility industry will have to recognize and respond to the increased importance of cultural and linguistic cooperation and consideration.

More developmental assignments?

Is a shorter assignment really going to be more developmental job assignments, resulting in many back-and-forth travels for talents? A developmental job assignment is a formal opportunity for an employee to develop professional knowledge, skills, and abilities that would not otherwise be available through their normal work activities.

However, organizations still need to retain a pool of international talents to run their global businesses. All local businesses are somehow global, too, if anyone has not noticed. California Corporate Housing is based in northern California but it offers corporate housing to relocated talents from different parts of the country and the world.

More than ever, employees need to know that their work has a global impact and for this, they need training on developmental assignments.

Developmental assignments would be embraced by younger professionals building international experience and thinking of a more senior role when they come back home. Working abroad gives many expats the opportunity to accept a more senior position down the road–with more probability of that happening in their hometown, although it can happen in their assigned location. It has been known to happen.

Meanwhile, global mobility managers will continue to evolve and take on more international roles. Even if they are in one place, they will be more exposed to their talents’ different cultures to better understand their needs.

There may be a trend for developmental assignments, but there is still a talent deficit. Companies are raising the bar in terms of the skills they need to compete in the marketplace. Those who can add or diversify their skills may have more opportunities to stay longer in their assigned city or country.

One thing we can sure of in 2018 is that global mobility is going to be focused more on the emotional and psychological side of the expat experience.