Partner at KPMG Deutschland

(Published on LinkedIn)

While we were preparing for our upcoming Mobility conference last October, I was asked what I would do if I had the opportunity to lead a major HR Global Mobility program.

I came up with three focus areas:

  1. Beyond Mobility
  • I would take accountability that physical moves are reduced to a bare minimum. Initiatives should focus on creating an environment which supports talent that virtual collaboration is most effective, compliant, and engaging. Where talent does not have the infrastructure at home it may be still more effective to work from a close by co-collaboration space than to commute several hours just to get to work.
  • Where physical meetings or on-premise work is still needed it also needs to be redefined. Looking jointly at presentations without engaging with each other, having 8 conference calls in a row, and then driving home only because the company’s policy wants you to be 2-3 days in the office is ridiculous.
  • We also need to look at the “jobs” and make them “virtual ready”. Of course, there are jobs which require to get to a certain location, but the pandemic showed us that it is by far less than we thought. And with some additional creativity we may also achieve even “virtuality” in some traditional on-premise jobs.
  •  Finally, we need to bring the jobs to our talent which requires that we understand where our talent sits and what specific skills and competencies are available. Sound easy but most managers just know the skills and competencies in their own silo and don’t have the mindset/ competencies to seamlessly interact with “temporary” talent. My department. my objectives, my Team is still the norm. Time to change this!
  1. Individualize
  • I am convinced that the total amount of international assignments must go down. We will still have them, need them and in some instance, they are the right tool but in much more situations finding the right local talent or having a hybrid remote work solution will be the better solution.
  • The remaining amount of international assignments though will require much more individualization. You just can’t compare a move from Frankfurt to Singapore, with a move from Frankfurt to San Pedro Sula. You can’t bring the requirements from Generation X,Y,Z into one Policy and you can’t anticipate the diverse living scenarios in which people live in. And matching it with the ever-changing business requirements which can range from “she is a star and we will pay everything she asks for” to “do we really need to pay for his immigration” is the art of the impossible.
  •  Instead of launching Policy projects that aim to address flexibility by adding X more policies and introducing some flexibility through cash allowances or elements of cafeteria approaches maybe its time to promote the Head of Mobility as the architect and consultant to propose the right package for the right situation in alignment with the business + talent.
  • If I would become the Head of Mobility my ask to leadership would be to be this architect and consultant and to transform the policies into guidelines with design principles and tools to allow Mobility to define individual assignment agreements. “The Policy does not support this” is not an appropriate answer in my opinion.
  1. Grow up
  • I don’t know who had the idea that talent on international assignments requires full time babysitting from a HR babysitter. Availability of providers and technology has evolved, and, in many situations, employees can organize this very good or even better on their own. There are fabulous online tools to find apartments, organize shipment, get support with taxes and much, much more. Yes, it comes with some time effort and costs but who says that HR needs to be involved when a shipment provider damages the household good.
  • How about HR puts their philosophy upside down and just concentrates to make a call what costs should be reimbursed and provides some extra vacation days for the time effort but with the clear message that the move itself is the accountability of the employee?

I personally believe that these measures provide significant benefits. (3) gives back Mobility time and energy to focus on “beyond mobility” and becoming an architect and consultant instead of babysitting. And (1) + (2) ultimately supports top line growth by having the right talent for the right job and higher bottom line results by reducing substantial costs for business travel, international assignments, and office commute. In addition, flexible work models increase your employer attractiveness, have a positive impact on work life balance and our climate since carbon emissions through elimination pf commuting and office spaces are reduced as well.

All good reasons to do Mobility differently after the pandemic.