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Global Talent Mobility Considerations in a VUCA Economy: Thoughts from VFS Global

April 13, 2017

With changes in labour and immigration laws across countries making business travel difficult, businesses are hence, required to carefully evaluate the need for global talent mobility and study markets to ensure safety, affordability in cost of living and security of expats.

In light of this current situation, we at HR in Asia chanced upon an opportunity to derive candid insights from Bernard Martyris, Chief Human Resources Officer, VFS Global on the top 10 expat friendly countries for talent to relocate in Asia. Read on…

  • Which are the immigration friendly countries for workers willing to relocate as per the latest findings?

Generally, the best countries to work in are those that are considered affordable, safe and as offering opportunities to workers from foreign countries. The countries that are most popular for the reasons above and considered as best suited for workers are Australia, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Bulgaria, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and UAE.

Bernard Martyris, Chief Human Resources Officer, VFS Global

Bernard Martyris, Chief Human Resources Officer, VFS Global

  • How does change in labour and immigration laws, for example in countries across Asia Pacific to cite Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, impact global talent mobility considerations?

With new and revised labour and immigration laws, come challenges for global deployment. Sometimes, if countries have not developed their laws to facilitate commerce, either due to public dissatisfaction or due to political considerations, it could create an unwelcome atmosphere for foreign workers. This coupled with high cost of living leads to reduced migration, which is in part responsible for the skilled labour shortage.

  • What are the latest business immigration challenges that impact HR and global talent relocation decisions?

The biggest challenges faced by any organization all over the world is creating and sustaining a strong talent pipeline. In today’s rapidly moving and extremely volatile competitive environment businesses are encountering global talent challenges. The most important of them are:

  • Cost: This is currently the No. 1 concern. Not only does the relocation of talent come at a premium cost to the company, but the development and retention of this talent is an added cost too.
  • Wage Differentials: The increase in world trade, expansion of labour market and discrepancy in wages between developed and developing nations is a major cause of brain drain. Also, this can create vacuum for various positions based on region and other socioeconomic factors.
  • Ageing population: Current population trends show that population in the developed nations is ageing and shrinking, and the population in developing countries is expanding and getting younger. Simultaneous management of mature workers and younger workers is a serious challenge.
  • Competition: The competition is very incensed and multi-directional in a global arena. Constant upskilling and coming up with innovative retention policies pose a threat to global management too.
  • Demand and supply of workers with competencies and motivations: Recent studies show that organizations worldwide are having issues finding the right talent. The main reason for this shortage is the gap between demand and supply of the talent, new technologies and inadequate learning.
  • What are the skills in demand by the new-age business traveller?

In a highly competitive business environment, each industry has its specific needs. However, some behavioural tendencies or skills, particularly adaptability, diversity sensitivity, engagement, business travel knowledge, and a tech savvy approach, are looked upon favourably by every business.

See: How to Make Talent Mobility Program Work for Your Business?

  • Do you think, economic slowdown experienced in Asia and globally, has employers reconsidering expansion of their mobility programs?

Globalisation of the world economies has caused huge inter-dependencies between economies. Thus a recession in one country will potentially have large scale impact on other countries. With the economic turbulences experienced not only in Asia but all over the world, businesses would want to cut down on all sorts of expenses. As a result, businesses are now realising and recognising the importance of having a robust business strategy to guide them through a recessionary period.

  • How important is it for HR managers to have a global mobility policy framework in place to support organisation growth?

Global mobility framework should be structured comprehensively, effectively and directly to serve the organisation’s growth.  Companies must be nimble in managing talent to have the right people in the right place at the right time to gain an edge over their competition. Market shifts and business realignment force companies to shift talent.

Mobility framework plays a vital role in enhancing workforce and organization by ensuring the integration of all organizational objectives and strategies. Additionally, having a global mobility framework in place leads to effective cost-management, streamlined decision-making and provides flexibility to the organization.

  • How can mobility help bridge the talent-skills mismatch gap?

Mobility helps provide flexibility to an organization while staying in-sync with the company’s goals. It includes subject matter experts from immigration, tax, sourcing, legal and compliance departments.

Mobility framework can help move the right talent at the right places, which ensures business and also workforce development. All too often individual corporate departments deal with global mobility issues on an ad-hoc basis and without coordination, where inter-department issues are common.

Employment laws, immigration and personal track issues often track independently from each other. From both efficiency and effectiveness perspectives, employers should consider a global mobility policy that integrates HR, tax, travel, payroll, finance, immigration and accounting considerations.

  • Highlight some of the key elements of the global talent mobility strategy to be designed by senior management in line with HR leaders?

Among the key factors that should be considered while designing the global talent mobility strategy by senior management with HR Leaders, are cost, political environment, local laws and legislation, and capability shortage in the local market.

  • Cite the top 10 expat friendly countries in Asia, and provide reasons why?
  1. China: Higher salaries for expats with a comparatively cheaper cost of living.
  2. Thailand: Low cost of living and the friendly tax system, which means more disposable income.
  3. South Korea: Ease of finding a job, and a close-knit expat community.
  4. Singapore: Expats in Singapore can benefit from generous financial packages, great career opportunities and low tax rates. It has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, making it a popular choice.
  5. Hong Kong: Advanced healthcare systems, high standard of schooling and excellent employment opportunities, albeit with a high cost of living.
  6. Malaysia: Rich culture and affordable living makes it a popular choice among expats.
  7. India: A booming economy, low cost of living, along with advanced healthcare and education system.
  8. Vietnam: Vietnam has the second highest disposable income in the world. Everything from food, transport, and accommodation is quite cheap.
  9. Qatar: High per capita income makes this an attractive destination for relocation.
  10. Taiwan: Good healthcare systems, affordable lifestyle and lively local culture.
  11. Bahrain: Strong banking and tourism sectors make it a good choice for expats who want to integrate into these industries.

Also read: International Talent Mobility: Understand the Challenges, Considerations and Strategies from Lee Quane

Content rights: This exclusive interview content is produced by HR in ASIA. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in this interview is prohibited. You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. 

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