Global mobility trends

A new report surmises the ten key trends in mobility to look out for in the coming year.

A new report reveals the top 10 mobility trends that employers can anticipate in the coming year.

They include the use of analytics and the fact that employees are increasingly initiating their own moves.

“This year, we expect millennials to have an even greater influence on mobility trends,” said Lisa Johnson, Global Practice Leader, Consulting Services, Crown World Mobility. “Talent has arguably never been more globally mobile than it is today, and millennials are hungry for international experiences. Low-cost adventure moves and DIY moves are becoming more popular. In fact, more than half (52%) of companies now have employee-initiated move policies.”

“At the same time, employers need to think about how to approach both the risks and opportunities of new technologies and DIY moves, such as unregulated online travel options like Airbnb or Uber on the one hand, and the potential benefits of data analytics on the other.”

Hong Kong, which is still one of the most expensive cities for expats, remains a key hub for global organisations who therefore need to have talent here.

"In Hong Kong we are seeing an increased focus on Mobility ROI and making sure the significant investment of a move is justified," said Patrick Groth, Regional Director, Sales and Account Management, Asia.

"Cross-border moves from mainland China to Hong Kong are another trend and are happening at all levels of organisations, from entry level to very senior roles," he added.

The 10 key trends for the coming year are:

1.    New focus on the accompanying partner

While commonly seen in Hong Kong, dual-career has become an emerging global trend this year. Other than that, there is an upsurge in male accompanying partners with the rise of female senior roles. This would mean businesses need to review support programs historically meant for female partners and creatively design new solutions such as offering local job opportunities and diverse peer networking communities tailored for male.


2.    Mobility ROI

This year will see more debate and more movement around mobility ROI. A move away from one-size-fits-all policies is expected, with a refresh of ROI measures including a tailored selection of company priorities, business function goals and employee priorities.


3.    Lump sum and cash allowances are on the rise

Why? Millennials who are early in their careers may be looking for low-cost moves with more flexibility and choice, and employers are eager to focus on the overall employee experience.


4.    Diversity Mobility 2.0

Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is becoming more important to global companies. Organisations with strong D&I cultures are putting more emphasis on diversity in mobility, and the report predicts expanded eligibility and flexibility in policies to meet diversity goals, such as making split-family policies more robust to support same-sex and dual-career families.


5.    Duty of care, risk management, assignee well-being

One key trend to watch is the proliferation of online marketplace travel options such as Airbnb, Uber, or Kayak. While companies typically encourage employees to use corporate systems for travel and relocation, DIY travel is on the rise and millennials may be more likely to view these online options as attractive or lower-cost options. Employers need to update their mobility policy and employee communications to mitigate risks associated with unregulated choices.

As well as putting risk management steps in place – such as travel-tracking technology, new security measures – companies are increasingly investing in employee health and wellness programs, which can reduce stress and improve productivity.


6.    Smart mobility

How long does it take employees to be up and running on the job after a move? If we increase the number of female assignees, will our future leadership pipeline also have more women? These kinds of business-critical questions can now be addressed with the use of data analytics.


7.    US tax code changes impact policy – not just a domestic issue

Just like Brexit, changes to US tax code are not just domestic issues. The repeal of deduction for certain moving expenses is expected to lead to changes in policy – for example, more organisations may push lump sums for relocation expenses, or favour short-term vs. long-term assignments.


8.    Employee-initiated moves

Talent has arguably never been more globally mobile than it is today, and millennials are hungry for international experiences. Low-cost adventure moves are becoming more popular. Indeed, more than half (52%) of companies now have employee-initiated move policies.  


9.    Cost savings

Where are cost savings coming from in 2018? More and more employers are using ‘core-flex’ policies, and creatively approaching the development of business-aligned policies and alternatives to household goods shipments for long-term assignments. Organisations need to strike a balance between cost savings and assignment acceptance and satisfaction by employees.


10.  Repatriation

While 87% of companies address repatriation in their policies (up from 82% in 2015), only 9% address things like Repatriation Integration Briefings and other assignment ROI support. This year the conversation will expand, and the most creative, talent-mobility focused companies will help shake up this historically least developed stage of the international assignment program.



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