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Employees with international experience achieve greater seniority, yet mobility professionals struggle to demonstrate value to their organisations
LONDON 28 June 2016: Santa Fe Relocation Services, a global leader in full service relocation, has today announced the results of the 2016 Global Mobility Survey. The research reveals that 83% of business leaders had seen real-life examples of employees with international experience achieving greater seniority. Despite this, Global Mobility professionals themselves are struggling to demonstrate their value and feel underrated. At the same time, there is a desire among business leaders and Mobility professionals alike for the Global Mobility function to become more strategic.
The insights are key findings from the Global Mobility Survey, the largest independent study of mobility professionals worldwide. Now in its sixth year, the survey is an independent study conducted by Circle Research, commissioned by Santa Fe Relocation Services. Circle Research interviewed 1,122 professionals across 64 countries who are responsible for Global Mobility programmes. For the first time, the research also surveyed 58 global business leaders to assess the perceived importance of mobility to international businesses, and contrast this with a view from those tasked with making it happen. This revealed a significant disconnect, as Graeme Cade, Client Director, Circle Research explains:
“Senior executive leadership recognise the strategic value of the Global Mobility function for enabling business growth and developing talent to become tomorrow’s leaders. Strikingly, Mobility professionals themselves are struggling with a lack of confidence and morale – often feeling under resourced and undervalued.”
Mobility Professionals are feeling isolated, despite the confidence of senior management
This contrast is made more dramatic by the fact that the vast majority of business leaders expressed positive sentiment towards their Global Mobility function, highly rating their ability to optimise the value of assignments, retain and nurture talent, and communicate with other departments. While 87% of business leaders felt Mobility was doing well in nurturing and retaining talent, less than two thirds (63%) of mobility professionals themselves agree. Similarly, while 40% of business leaders saw the Global Mobility function as well aligned to the wider organisation, only 21% of mobility professionals felt well aligned to the business.
The data deficit and the challenge of demonstrating value
This difference in perception has arisen largely due to the challenge of demonstrating value. While 83% of business leaders believe that their Global Mobility team delivers ROI, only half (53%) of Mobility Professionals are measuring the ROI of individual assignments, and even then, most of these are only doing so on occasion – only 9% are always able to provide ROI measures of individual assignments. Consequently, 57% find it difficult or very difficult to effectively demonstrate the value of their team to the wider business. Interestingly, 43% described demonstrating value as being easy – even despite the widespread lack of ROI metrics.
“We have observed a profound data deficit in Global Mobility,” said Graeme Cade, Circle Research. “While it is believed to deliver value, there is a lack of objective proof to substantiate the perception. Although business leaders have confidence in their mobility teams, only one in five say that Global Mobility demonstrates its value extremely well. This is driving Mobility Professionals’ self-assessment of underperforming and of being isolated in the business.”
Global Mobility professionals need to transform how they are seen by the wider organisation from ‘probably valuable’ to ‘demonstrably valuable’ – moving beyond a reliance on good faith towards being able to create a credible business case to support investment and avoid de-prioritisation. The 2016 research therefore concludes that Global Mobility functions need to improve their ability to provide the types of actionable insights demanded by business leaders, while also becoming more able to anticipate costs and risks.
The results indicated four key opportunities where more needs to be done to demonstrate value:
- Establishing credible budgets for all assignment types
- Tracking total assignment costs
- Reporting on what matters most to your leadership team
- Readiness and ability to demonstrate the cost-benefit equation of the Global Mobility function
Stepping up to a strategic role in the business
Commenting on this transformation to a data driven business function, Martin Thaysen, Global CEO, Santa Fe Relocation Services said: “We exist in a digital age where data is the life-blood of organisations, but it is also the passport to engage business leaders in new insightful ways.”
This desire for Global Mobility to step up was clearly expressed by comments made by several of the business leaders interviewed:
“The [Global Mobility] Team should bring added value to the business by strategic thinking, bringing the necessary information and figures to the business. If we are not able to deliver this the business will question the presence of [a Global Mobility] Team.”
“[I want Global Mobility to] be a strategic business partner with an aim to move from a transactional function to a strategic, business critical function.“
A third (34%) business leaders want Global Mobility to take on a more strategic role, desiring the function to include a long term view of workforce planning, with 40% wanting this function to increase business succession activities. Yet, despite the aspiration to step into a more strategic role, as we have seen in previous years, the 2016 survey found that Global Mobility functions are spending the majority of their time on tactical, rather than strategic, activities (for example, time spent on a high value-add activity such as strategic workforce planning has only risen year-on-year by 1% (from 13% to 14%). The survey recommended that professionals effect this transition by making a more proactive effort to anticipate long term business trends, taking a greater role in protecting the business (for example, managing risks from immigration and tax complications), and considering whether establishing independence from HR could improve performance.
The role of Global Mobility continues to evolve
“Global mobility teams, as well as the broader industry, are rapidly moving towards a point where they have to participate in the strategic growth of their business,” said, Martin Thaysen, Global CEO, Santa Fe Relocation Services. “This presents both opportunities and threats – the opportunity to become embedded in the heart of business strategy versus the threat to become commoditised through digital advancement. Moving forward it will be interesting to see if business leaders will come to reassess their ‘make, borrow, and buy’ investment in Global Mobility, and reconsider the re-distribution of the Mobility supply-chain into other business functions, or outsource”
About Circle Research
Circle Research is an independent global business to business research company dedicated to helping clients understand how business decision-makers behave and think. All research is conducted to ISO20252:2012 standard (Certificate No. 0504). Visit www.circle-research.com
Santa Fe Relocation Services is a global mobility company specialising in managing and delivering high-quality relocation services worldwide. Our core competence is relocation services that support corporations and their employees relocate and settle in a new country, assisting them with visas, immigration, home and school, language and cultural training, managing property rentals, delivering domestic and international moving of household goods. We have the ability to provide these services to a consistent high standard, locally and globally. A key aspect is being able to manage our service delivery through our own operations across six continents. Santa Fe Relocation Services is wholly owned by the Santa Fe Group, which is listed on NASDAQ in Copenhagen, Denmark. For more information, visit us at www.santaferelo.com or contact us.