2022 Global Mobility Outlook: More Compliant-Ready, Employee-Flexible

Global mobility is emerging from the shocks of the pandemic that left nobody unscathed — workplace setups were disrupted; talent demands skyrocketed; mental health observed. The pandemic has definitely pushed the global mobility industry to find ways to keep up with these drastic changes.

Currently, the mobility industry is still dealing with some level of uncertainty as the pandemic continues to affect business operations. But according to AIRINC, mobility has by now honed its skills in compliance and is shifting its focus in attracting and retaining top talent in its Mobility Outlook Survey 2022

The 2022 outlook report demonstrates a more optimistic year ahead compared to previous years amid the health crisis. It explores opportunities from analyzing the industry’s ideal future state versus its current state. 

To better understand where global mobility is heading, leaders in the industry ought to take a look at the report and derive insights from its findings.

Here are some of the figures from the report:

  • 82% of companies highlight the need to achieve some business flexibility while 56% mentioned that employees need to have moderate flexibility
  • Over half (58%) of the respondents are currently offering some business flexibility while 29% offer moderate employee flexibility
  • Cost predictability and the time to deploy talent remain to be top requests from business leaders, where 69% and 57% of participants responded accordingly
  • To promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, 38% of companies stated they were increasing employee flexibility while a similar percentage (39%) are currently revisiting their policy language to improve on inclusivity
  • Partnering with vendors in order to promote sustainability in mobility was found to be the most common method with 26% of companies currently using the strategy
  • Unfortunately, 51% of companies’ global mobility departments aren’t taking any steps to meet objectives for sustainability
  • 57% of companies are expecting increased moving activity in 2022
  • Half of the participants are expecting more international one-way transfers while 46% are expecting increasing short-term assignments in the Year 2022.

Global Mobility in 50 years

The pandemic has taught mobility leaders that the mobility landscape will never cease to change. Though certain trends do persist for a duration of time, the best leaders must learn how to prepare their teams for the uncertain future. ECA International talks with experts of various fields, sharing their thoughts on how global mobility will change in the next 50 years across different themes.

Global economy

At the height of the pandemic, it was thought that the health crisis would cause long-lasting repercussions on the global economy. But as mass vaccinations have been administered and travel restrictions have simmered down, the global business sector proved that the negative economic impacts were short-lived. 

Another important thing to note is the accelerated digitization. Though adopting technologies will result in more optimized business processes, training capacities failed to cope with the pace of this adoption. HR and global mobility should fill this gap and figure out how to hasten the technological education process of the workforce. 

Patterns in mobility

Lee Quane, ECA Regional Director Asia, foresees that a similar pattern in mobility evolution in the past 50 years will take place in the next 50. He explains that when ECA was established in 1971, companies started to move staff from major economies in Europe and North America to industrializing countries. In the 1980s to 2000s, growing Asian economies were increasingly becoming richer which led them to follow the West in moving talent worldwide.

Similar to AIRINC’s report, Quane predicts considerable amounts of employee mobility in the next few years, Africa being a major destination for assignments. He also points out that the regionalization of mobility will intensify since many go-to countries for assignees will face demographic challenges. That’s why businesses now need to rely on intra-regional candidates to fill in their talent gaps and not necessarily tap the global talent pool.

Technology’s role

People often thought that virtual assignments emerged from the impacts of COVID-19, but that isn’t the case. Talks of eliminating complex relocation processes through virtual assignments were already in the talks. Current technology just made it seamless to do important business tasks remotely without the need to relocate internationally. 

Businesses today are lucky to have this ability. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be able to cater to the demands of the new workforce as a result of the pandemic. Globally, 69 percent of respondents of a global pulse survey want at least a hybrid workplace setup. In addition, data protection legislation has started to be catered to more advanced tech. This should signal mobility teams to consider investing in technology since the traditional methods of sharing sensitive information will be not as effective.

Talent retention and attraction

Emanuela Boccagni, Commercial Director EMEA is expecting people-oriented issues to continue to be top of mind in the mobility landscape in the next decades. HR and global mobility are required to take a more holistic and empathetic approach to managing mobile talents. But even with the provision of better support for the mobile workforce, employers are observing considerable levels of employee turnover. This poses a challenge to meet the evolved expectations of talent in the next 50 years.   

The global mobility sector has proved itself to be a key advisor in making solid business decisions. It was able to withstand the complexities of compliance issues around the globe in the pre-Covid era. Now, they are a step ahead in identifying opportunities for growth through reviewing policies and programs and partnering with talent managers to maintain proficient levels of employee retention and talent attraction.