Hello, and welcome to – Mobility via Podcast – KPMG’s podcast series focused on global mobility. I’m Glen Collins, a Senior Manager in our GMS Mobility Consulting Services group based in Washington, DC. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Achim Mossmann, the principal-in-charge of our U.S. GMS Mobility Consulting Services group at KPMG to discuss the future of global mobility policies and practices, including some of the leading global mobility policy trends that we are seeing in the market, as well as predictions for the future of talent mobility for global organizations over the next 12 months.
Achim … thanks for joining us today.
Thank you, Glen, it’s good to be here.
Outside of the impacts of COVID-19 in 2020, which we’ll discuss shortly, from the results that we’ve seen from our annual Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey over the last few years, what would you say are the most noticeable changes and current leading trends with global mobility policies?
First, the most noticeable that we have seen is overall “flexibility in approach.” Many organizations are now offering greater flexibility in their assignment policy approaches. For example, setting frameworks with core and optional provisions and expanding the range of choices for either the business or the assignee. Another trend we’re seeing is to offer menu-driven, points-based and lump sum payments vs. in-kind services for certain provisions, which provides choice for assignees in developing packages best suited to their personal needs with a key focus on enhancing the employee experience.
In addition, from the results of our 2019 GAPP Survey, 60% of participants cite the use of international assignments as being a top program goal for supporting overall global business and talent development objectives. There has been an improving alignment between business objectives, mobility policy types and assignee assessment and selection continue to be vital in supporting the global talent agenda.
One trend you mentioned was enhancing the employee experience. In what ways do you see global mobility programs addressing satisfaction for mobile employees?
Technology leads the way. Global mobility is too complex and important to employees and the organization’s talent agenda to leave up to chance. More and more organizations are looking to have a fully integrated, single-source-of-truth technology solution that spans the whole spectrum of mobility. This includes providing self-service to employees via on-line portals and mobile technology solutions integrated with mobility processes.
However, 60% of GAPP Survey participating organizations do not currently rely on mobility management technology to manage various aspects of their program.
KPMG predicts that mobile technology will be key to engage, support, and enhance a mobile employee’s experience. In addition, with changing workforce demographics, next generation workers are expecting a consumer-related digital experience with technology like that which supports their day-to-day living.
So, what does all of this mean for the future … what do we think the future of global talent mobility will look like? In particular, as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 on organizations this year as they look forward over the next year.
Twenty years ago, the Global Mobility function principally focused on managing the relocation aspects of their international assignee population; the focus often being exclusively on traditional long-term assignment moves, which frequently started and ended in the country location of their corporate headquarters.
In particular, over the last 10 years, KPMG has seen a growing diversification of mobility policy types with a steady increase in extended business trips, short-term, developmental and commuter assignment arrangements, as well as a significant uptick in permanent or indefinite international transfers. In fact, over half of GAPP Survey participants anticipate a reduction in the use of traditional, full balance sheet, tax equalized long-term assignments. Fundamentally, these changes have reflected the needs of global businesses and their overarching talent development and retention needs.
Over the last year or so, KPMG had been looking into our “crystal ball” and contemplating what the Future of Work and Future of Mobility will look like. One of the themes that was starting to emerge was the concept of a distributed workforce or as we call it “Work Anywhere”. That just was a little over a year ago and at that time everyone agreed it is definitely something we could see happen over the course of next 3-5 years. What we didn’t anticipate was the rapid pace at which this would become a reality overnight in 2020. What seemed to be a slow- moving trend (particularly in emerging tech companies) is now unfolding right before us.
As we have seen this year, a number of organizations have expressed that they are not going back to the way they used to work, which may also have an effect on traditional forms of global talent mobility, including the possibility for “virtual assignments,” meaning an employee performing work remotely the same as they would had they relocated temporarily to the host country location. How do we anticipate that this will affect global mobility?
Most organizations now expect some level of flexibility and remote work in the future. And, they are in the process of determining where they will land on the “spectrum of flexibility” …which ranges from allowing no remote work at all to allowing their employees to work anywhere in the world.
Global mobility functions also need to carefully consider the potential impact of work flexibility on their global mobility policies and practices. Talent mobility priorities will need to be reconsidered, including how employment, tax and immigration risks are mitigated, and how best to continue to be focused and strategic, more inclusive, digitized and automated, and more predictive in their approach. These are the key components of an optimized global mobility function of the future that will be critical to respond to and support even more flexibility for talent mobility going forward into 2021.
Thank you Achim, you’ve given us a lot to think about and we really appreciate you taking the time to go through it with us.
Thank you very much for having me.
KPMG’s web-based, Global Assignment Policies and practices survey continues to provide valuable trends and insight on how global organizations administer their global mobility programs. To date over 300 global, cross-industry organizations have participated in the GAPP Survey. The 2020 survey is now open for participation through Friday, August 21, 2020. We would welcome your participation!
Participation in the GAPP survey is free and will allow you to benchmark your organization to other survey participants on numerous aspects of an international assignment program, including: assignee selection and assessment, assignment preparation and planning, talent and performance management, assignment compensation and allowances, administration and outsourcing, use of data analytics and robotics, as well as tax reimbursement approaches.
In future episodes we’ll spend more time on top-of-mind issues, geopolitics, digitization and changing business models. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you. If you have thoughts on today’s episode or ideas for future episodes, send us an e-mail at USfirstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, you can participate in the 2020 survey and find the 2019 results of our Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey at home.kpmg/gappsurvey. Thanks for listening!