By Olivier Meier, Mercer
As we emerge from the first stage of the COVID-19 crisis, organizations will need to review their business practices to prepare for the turbulent months and years to come.
While it may seems early to draw conclusions from the crisis, some obvious gaps in processes and policies may have emerged and require a rapid resolution. Similarly, best practices born out of the emergency should be leveraged across the organization.
Going forward, potential cost-reduction efforts, changes in business models, and globalization patterns will prompt top management to require new approaches from HR teams. Performing a detailed gap analysis can help uncover current shortcomings, provide a sense of direction, and establish supporting evidence to guide mobile workforce management forward.
The following checklist provide an overview of potential gaps that need to be assessed.
Coordination and delivery gaps
||Having mobile employees falling under the radar is a perennial risk for mobility teams. The crisis is adding a new layer of complexity: who should be tracked? The traditional assignees falling under the purview of the mobility team are not the only mobile employees. Locally hired foreigners, short-term assignee, commuters and business travelers as well as international remote workers also need to be tracked.
|Coordination between countries
||The crisis may have disrupted assignment plans & processes. Some employees have been repatriated or moved to a third location. New assignments have been postponed. Managing these disruptions and returning to normal requires close cooperation between the home, the host and even sometimes a third country. Are there gaps in the collaboration between the different local HR teams?
|Coordination between teams
||Alignment with career management is a traditional challenge for mobility teams. Coordination of issues such as talent pool management, performance management, and career planning are complicated even further by the crisis.
Furthermore, managing the crisis require swift coordination between talent mobility and risk, compliance, and other HR teams that are not usually involved in the day-to-day mobility operations.
How to facilitate and speed up cooperation and anticipate the next challenges?
||Does the mobility team face issues because of a lack of information, inadequate resources or processes, a limited purview, or a lack of relevant skills and training? What are the education/learning priorities for the team members?
||Are there problems or inefficiencies because some vendor services are not available or the company is not taking advantage of existing service options due to lack of awareness and communication.
||A mobility policy cannot to cover every scenario but it should provide a clear management logic and clarify the options available. Are there issues that are not covered in the current policies or ambiguities that complicate the decision processes?
|Lack of flexibility or excess of flexibility
||Flexibility has been a buzzword for many years. The crisis is a stress test for that concept. Policy flexibility can help respond to the crisis while in other cases, giving too much latitude to assignees or line managers could lead to a breach of duty of care. Policy items that are essential should not be made flexible.
||List the exceptions made during the crisis. How was the decision processes managed? How to remove or phase out the exceptions once the crisis is over?
|Objective / performance assessment
||Assignment planning, objectives and performance management may have become obsolete or unrealistic because the crisis. What does this mean for the business stakeholders and for the employees concerned? What is required to reassess these plans and set new objectives?
|Assignment and family wellbeing
||What was missing to foster the wellbeing of the assignees and their family? Employee wellbeing cover physical health but also mental, social and financial wellbeing.
||Does the current setup support business continuity and resilience? What new technology is required to foster remote working and virtual assignment?
||Is a real time tracking functionality available? What improvement should be made in the tracking process and how could new technology support it?
||What tasks are automatized and what is done manually? Where could efficiency be introduced? Could an integrated platform approach facilitate the task of the mobility team.
||Are important communication done on ad-hoc basis via email or is there a centralized system to push information to assignees?
|Package calculation and management
||Are calculation done manually? Is there a need for system to perform updates more quickly and efficiently?
||Does the system helps flagging missing information, important deadlines, incomplete tasks, discrepancies and exceptions?
|Technology awareness and training requirements
||Are HR teams able leverage all the technology capabilities and functionalities currently available? Does lack of skills or knowledge hampers the use of technology or limit its effectiveness? Are assignees actively using support resources made available to them?
Cost assessment gaps
|Planned versus budgeted
||Anticipate the year-end reconciliation and evaluate the extra costs triggered by the crisis so far.
|Indirect and hidden costs
||Are you integrating all indirect costs in your analyses? Indirect and hidden costs can be related to additional support required (working hours/headcount/overhead costs of supporting teams), emergency measures, and unforeseen tax liabilities.
|Cost of exceptions
||What exceptions have been made and what their corresponding costs?
|New on-going costs
||What proportion of the costs triggered by the crisis will be temporary and what will remain in the long-term term? On-going costs can be related to new safety and risk management measures that will need to remain in place for the near future. They could also be the results of new employee benefits or permanent changes in packages.
||Are changes in assignment plans, evacuation or remote working triggering new tax liabilities?
||Do assignment delays or unplanned moves (e.g. repatriation or evacuation to third country) create immigration issues for assignees and the business?
||Are there gaps in coverage or a need to provide additional benefits?
|Duty of care
||Beyond basic compliance, is the company fulfilling all its duty of care obligations and fostering the wellbeing of assignees and their families?
||Could remote working increase the risk of personal or business information leak?
Perception and inclusion gaps
||How did the assignees and their families experience the crisis? How do they view the support provided by the company? Did the crisis change their plans (e.g. willingness to resume their assignments)? Conducting a pulse survey to understand their experience or current expectation could be useful. Design thinking can also be used to retrace the journey of the assignees during the crisis.
|Stakeholder perception and expectations
||What are the new business priorities and are they aligned with current assignment patterns? Is there a perception gap in terms of assignment costs? Do all stakeholders understand the issues and expectations of assignees as well as future risks, compliance and management issues?
|Assignees versus locals
||Has the special treatment of assignees created a sense of inequity among local employees? Or, on the contrary, are assignees feeling they are struggling to access local services or are the victims of discrimination?
|Full time versus contractors
||If the company is employing international contractors, freelancers and gig workers, what support is provided to them during the crisis? Has the crisis modified the attractiveness of the company for external contractors?
||Could future change in assignment patterns and potential cuts in the number of assignees impact the diversity of the workforce?
||Have you identified gaps between assignees working remotely and those working on-site? Does virtual working create anxiety or new expectations from mobile employees? Is there a disconnection between the perception of management about effectiveness, productivity of remote workers and reality? Are virtual assignments a feasible option going forward?
Communication and branding gaps
|Clarity and consistency
||Was a clear and consistent message send to mobile employees globally? Is the overall narrative aligned with the company’s main messages and values?
|Flow of information
||Have you been able to reach and inform all assignees and stakeholders in a timely manner? Are there gaps in communication channels or misunderstandings between stakeholders? Collaboration networks analytics can help understand how the information flow between teams and highlight choke points.
|Employer branding and value proposition
||How is the crisis influencing the overall value proposition for mobile employees? Is there a need to reinforce the message about wellbeing and other non-financial aspects of the value proposition? Is the support provided by the company during the crisis likely reinforce the overall employer branding or are there gaps between what has been promised and delivered?