Dinesh Jangra, Head of Global Mobility at Crowe UK, shares his insights into the challenges employers face when managing a global workforce, and the critical aspects of support that foreign assignees require in order to carry out successful global assignments.
1. As an expert in global mobility with a wealth of experience supporting companies with the deployment of talent, what are the key issues employers face when managing a global workforce?
There are many challenges and opportunities involved in managing a global workforce, however some of the key aspects I see time and time again include:
2. What is your advice to address these challenges?
As well as facilitating strategic mobility, planning for the impacts of the changing global workforce, and addressing compliance issues in a timely manner, companies also need to understand what creates value for the business and connect their current global mobility and talent deployment strategies to their future goals. A relatively simple workforce plan shouldn’t need input from lots of different consultants and require months or years to develop. Employers need to understand the skills and experience of their current workforce, look at their future goals to identify what is missing, and focus their talent mobility strategy on addressing and filling these gaps.
3. When sending employees on assignment, what are the welfare and security risks that the company needs to consider, and how can these be mitigated?
We live in a somewhat uncertain world, and it is critical that in the face of events such as terrorism, employers can quickly establish contact with their employees — regardless of where they are in the world.
Local knowledge surrounding assignment locations is essential to understanding safety and security risks. However, while some countries may be considered more dangerous than others, safety is often quite a fluid concept. Government guidance is a good starting point, but it is critical that foreign assignees also receive local insights and on-the-ground knowledge.
Employers must also recognize the unique challenges that a foreign assignment presents, with the employee being taken from their familiar surroundings, robust personal support network, and regular routine. This can take a toll on even the most experienced foreign assignees, and employers need to ensure that they provide the necessary support. Wellness aspects — such as socializing opportunities, exercise activities, and leisure time — need to be provided for. If these things aren’t addressed, they will have a detrimental impact on both the employee and the company in the long run.
4. What are the main reasons that organizations struggle with failed global assignments?
I believe one of the biggest issues when discussing the success of foreign assignments is how we define assignment failure. A failed assignment is more than just an assignment that didn’t deliver the business case, or one that was terminated early. Companies need to define the expected outcomes of an assignment — both quantitative and qualitative — and determine how these can be measured. It is only then that they can understand whether an assignment can be considered a success or a failure.
Where assignments do fail, the following are common contributing factors:
As you can see from these contributing factors, assignee selection, preparation, and ongoing support are critical to assignment success.
5. How do failed assignments impact the company?
The financial implications of a failed assignment are reasonably clear, such as failed customer contracts, a market not being properly exploited, or a development opportunity not being seized.
Less obvious repercussions would be the wasted time and energy spent on a failed assignment. Those that work outside of the global mobility field may be unaware of the complex technical and process-critical success factors behind deploying an individual from one country to another. The enormous amount of time and energy invested into a failed assignment represent valuable resources that could have been deployed elsewhere.
6. In your experience, what are the critical aspects of support necessary to provide an attractive relocation package, and to set the company and employee up for assignment success?
There are many different support components that employers need to consider when putting together a comprehensive relocation package.
Compliance support — covering aspects such as immigration, payroll, tax, social security, and labor law analysis — is critical to avoid illegal or uncompliant practices. Medical support is equally important, and can be a deal breaker if not appropriately addressed.
Compensation needs to be approached with the bigger picture in mind — is this a long-term local market role or a shorter tactical requirement? How are they compensated in their home country, and what benefits do they receive? Will they be compensated using a home-based or host-based approach? Where will the employee work next? Compensation needs to be determined on an individual level, taking all these factors into consideration.
Foreign assignees normally receive some support to settle into the host country, however most of this is likely to be business-driven. The more practical and personal elements of support — such as assistance to socially integrate, find local information and tips, and build up a support network — are not going to be found in the company handbook. Such aspects are key to making everyday life in the host location work, and can be even more vital for relocating spouses who are often not working and therefore miss out on valuable workplace support.
7. How do you see the management of global assignments evolving in the future?
My personal predictions for the future of global assignments relate somewhat to technology, and I see service intimacy as a big opportunity. The march towards offshoring and automation in the last decade or so has resulted in many efficiencies. But the question remains, how can technology be used to enhance the personal aspects of support? This has huge impact potential, and moving forward I see global mobility teams finding new and innovative ways to use technology to support their employees, ultimately enhancing assignee performance and increasing assignment success.
About the Expert: Dinesh Jangra is Head of Global Mobility at Crowe UK , and has over 18 years’ experience assisting with the deployment of talent by small, medium-sized, and global organizations. Supporting clients to plan and proactively manage their overall people-related costs and risks, his expertise lies in identifying and advising organizations on issues they face when employees’ roles become cross-border in nature and when they move their people or operations across international jurisdictions.