Businesses continue to expand their global operations. Talents are seeking fulfilling work experience. That’s why employee mobility increasingly becomes more compelling than ever.
Employee mobility, or simply refer as mobility, is a voluntary and limited assignment of an employee to alternative duties in another state agency, public jurisdiction, federal government, or private industry. Generally, there will be an administrative procedure that applies to employees of executive branch state agencies. Mobility agreements with other governmental jurisdictions and private sector are covered by the administrative procedure and employment law clause (or employment contract).
Employee mobility is aimed to provide employees with an opportunity to develop new skills and broaden career perspective while providing them with specific professional, technical, clerical, or managerial expertise.
According to Deloitte insight, the business world is changing and employee mobility programs need to maintain the pace. Traditionally, international assignments have been managed as a high-touch, low-volume activity which in every move, an employee can receive special handling to address their needs of development. Another thing is that it helps fulfil the strategic needs of a business.
In the future, global talent such as baby boomer retirements, ageing workforce, and declining interest might create a chronic shortage of critical talent. To survive and thrive, therefore, companies use international assignments to cultivate leaders with global experience to help run their increasingly broad, geographic operations.
The mobility, nevertheless, is not simply about moving employees to a new state or country and assigning them with new tasks. Deloitte revealed that HR executives spend most of their time on transaction issues such as compensation, benefits, and cost management when dealing with employee mobility. In fact, mobility is an issue that has taken on a whole new level as not only does HR should deal with a different type of benefit and compensation, but HR should also deal with a different system of payroll and employment taxation.
Needless to say, providing effective employee mobility is one of HR priorities. Otherwise, with a lack of plans and landing pad, employees might look for an opportunity somewhere else shortly after the assignment ends.
Addressing this challenge, employee mobility needs to be written under a clear statement in an employment contract. Upcounsel stated that the clause in a contract is a contractual term that enables an employer to change an employee’s place to work, either temporarily or on an ongoing basis. The clause might be used in various scenarios such as follows:
The clause is also needed as employees who are entitled to the mobility reserve the right to receive a written statement of their terms and conditions of employment. One of the terms is the employee’s normal place of work.
Moreover, the clauses generally specify that employer reserves the right to change the place of work and that an employee might be required to work from any office or location of the employer, as the need arises.
Effective employee mobility should come not only with employment clause but also policies that can help measure the success of the program. According to Mercer, mobility policies and practices should include the following values.
From a diversity perspective, Mercer found that women and some minorities might be on the wrong side of mobility divide. Only 14 percent of expatriate are women, with minorities are also underrepresented in the expatriate workforce or turned down for assignments because of nationality, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, or disability.
Therefore, mobility policies should suit and include every participant in a company such as working mothers, employees with disabilities, or other groups with specific requirements to remove barriers to mobility for specific employee groups. Introducing an alternative to traditional long-term assignments such as moving jobs to people, extended business trips, or commuter assignments can also help remove barriers to mobility for minorities.
There are three categories when dealing with benefits and allowance: 1) including measures specifically for a specific group, 2) allowing flexibility in the choice of the implementation of benefits and allowances, 3) providing lump sums and let employees decide how to use them.
In practice, HR can give more visibility to the diversity questions by monitoring explicitly the policy, providing lump sum for selected policy items, and allowing a degree of flexibility for other benefits.
In practice, HR should collect data and adjust to payroll system where international mobility is conducted. It can be daunting for HR team as different state might require different legal employee taxation. PwC reported that it is necessary for an HR team to understand international labour employment. Another option is to work together with international human resource practitioner to help fill the need for employment tax.
Cultural training and coaching can help eliminate preconceptions during mobility. Likewise, companies need to provide communication channels to allow employees to speak up about possible issues but without intruding into their personal lives. Family of assigned employees can also share in the discussion whenever possible because family members could also be part of minority groups and face specific issues in the host locations.
Lastly, different types of analyses should be performed to ensure the success of mobility program. The measuring should include workforce progression analysis, employee satisfaction survey, and pay progression analysis.