The key to global talent acquisition is a holistic approach to workforce planning and global mobility.
Getting the right people to the right place at the right time is a perennial challenge for large, multinational companies. Recently, however, the need to address that challenge has become more pressing.
One reason is rising nationalism and the backlash against globalization that often accompanies it, which is making it more difficult for companies to execute effectively on global talent strategies. On the opening day of the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi called out the globalization backlash as one of “the three most significant challenges to civilization as we know it,” along with climate change and terrorism.
Another reason is the division of the world’s talent markets, which can exacerbate the need for a mobile workforce and a strong employer brand. According to the International Labor Organization, the job markets in developed economies, including Europe, the U.S., and Canada, are likely to continue to tighten, while in developing economies, particularly in Latin America, the pool of available talent is likely to expand.
A third reason is the growing demand among top talent for more productive, engaging, and enjoyable work, which, for many, includes international assignments. Millennials want to work for global companies with aspirations beyond profit-seeking. The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 found that millennials view business positively, but they also believe that multinational businesses are not fully realizing their potential to alleviate society’s biggest challenges.
Together, these conditions are raising the mobility stakes for multinational companies. They also explain why more and more executives are asking my colleagues and I at Bersin, “How can we improve global mobility?”
We tell them that the most effective way to meet the global mobility challenge is a top-down, bottom-up effort.
Global Mobility from the Top Down
Top-down efforts create the framework needed for global mobility. These efforts integrate global mobility into a company’s overall talent management, and support the radical transparency needed to operationalize global mobility.
Bersin research finds that only 12 percent of companies currently have a clearly articulated, integrated talent strategy. To effectively reach higher levels of maturity, multinationals need a talent strategy that aligns to the business, maintains appropriate focus on foundational talent activities, and identifies and prioritizes differentiating talent management practices, like global mobility.
Companies that struggle with global mobility are usually managing it as a discrete program. They have a dedicated global mobility office, but it is not co-located with their other talent management and development programs, often because of the complex financial considerations involved in moving employees around the world.
The problem is this positioning isolates global mobility from talent management. It makes it difficult to align the two (even though they are intimately related), and it heightens the already daunting external barriers, such as geopolitical borders, that stand in the way of mobility.
Bersin research reveals that high-performing companies integrate global mobility with all their other talent management activities—not just leadership development, but also talent acquisition, career management, and employee development.
In connecting the programmatic dots, high-performing companies lower the barriers that constrain internal mobility. They gain an end-to-end visibility into talent management that supports holistic workforce planning. And they support the development of the internal talent pools needed to enhance global mobility.
Moreover, the integration of talent management supports the radical level of transparency that is needed to operationalize global mobility. Radical transparency enables executives to tap employees who best match the needs of their businesses, recruiters to plumb internal talent markets, and employees to access the full gamut of available opportunities. It allows companies to create career pathways that span the organization, and to clearly communicate their intention to help every employee find their best path.
Technology is an indispensable enabler in all the above pursuits. Digital platforms provide employees with a host of HR services, accessible from anywhere, at any time. They act as a host for all of the various processes and vendors that play a role in global mobility, and serves needs of both employers and employees.
Global Mobility from the Bottom Up
Bottom-up efforts flesh out an integrated and strategic approach to workforce mobility. Deloitte’s High-Impact Talent Acquisition research shows that high-performing companies are five times more likely to take such an approach than low-performing companies.
There are two key elements in bottom-up success. One is the ability of companies to know their employees as well as they know their customers. The other is the ability of employees to easily identify mobility opportunities with the company.
Sadly, these two elements are not present in most companies. Recruiters and business owners in large companies rarely have access to comprehensive internal talent pools. And often, it’s easier for employees to go outside the company to its external hiring website, job boards, and professional networking sites to uncover opportunities than it is to find them internally.
Instead, companies should be collecting a host of employee data. Employee data is what fills the internal talent pools that fuel workforce mobility. It tells companies who their employees are, where they are now, and what expertise and skills they possess. It also tells them what employees want to do and where they want to go. Our research reveals that 76 percent of high-performing organizations regularly evaluate their internal talent pools vs. 13 percent of their low-performing counterparts.
The ability of every employee to easily and quickly identify all of the possible internal opportunities across the organization requires providing them with clear career paths. It also means posting jobs internally and ensuring that recruiters have access to the internal talent pool.
The Mobility Payoff
The payoffs associated with a global mobility make these top-down and bottom-up efforts well worth the time and investment. Workforce mobility stimulates employee growth and leadership development. It can result in stronger and more extensive employee networks—a key enabler of the learning organization, according to Bersin research.
Mobility also enhances a company’s employer brand, an especially valuable asset in tight labor markets. And best of all, it helps companies ensure that they always will have the right people in the right places at the right time.
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