What will the next generation mobility programmes look like?
These findings suggest that ‘next generation’ mobility programmes need to do more to address the needs of the individual and their families both professionally and personally. Opportunities to address these challenges include:
Candidate identification and selection: Ensure assessment processes are objective and competency based. High performance in a domestic context does not necessarily mean an individual will perform well in a foreign / cross-cultural environment. Equally, an enthusiastic ‘good’ performer may have skills and attributes which would make them a more appropriate candidate in the long run.
Familiarisation and cross-cultural support: Investment in supporting the assignee and any accompanying family during the decision-making process and early stages of an assignment can be the difference between a successful assignment and a failed one. Preparedness for change and difference is the first step to tackling it effectively, and the sooner all parties feel settled in their new environment, the more positive their experience will be able to be. That said, if the host environment is not a good fit for the employee and/or their family from the outset, then recognising that early and intervening with additional support, or indeed not going ahead with the assignment at all, is in everyone’s best interest in the longer term.
Spouse/family assistance: The ability of an assignee’s spouse/partner to be able to work in their chosen profession in the host location, or indeed to be able to work at all, is often a deciding factor for dual-career and dual-income families when considering an international assignment. Locations that grant working rights to accompanying dependents of sponsored employees are favoured assignment destinations, and providing career counselling or job search support, engaging with dual career network organisations, or supporting family members with host location integration can go a long way to ensuring assignment success.
Career and performance management: Effective career and performance management in an international context involves active and regular engagement from the home and host business, HR and the assignee, which is one of the main reasons it’s not generally done as well as many would like. Uncertainly about post-assignment redeployment, a real or perceived ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude, or a ‘not my responsibility’ one, can all undermine an otherwise positive and developmental professional experience. Defined accountabilities and regular structured and informal communications between all parties can make a significant difference and become part of a strong employee value proposition.
Dual-career issues are likely to remain a challenge for the foreseeable future, and the cost of international assignments will always be a key consideration for business, but finding ways to improve the professional and personal international assignment experience for employees and their families is already in the gift of talent mobility professionals. Collaborating with talent, HR and mobility colleagues worldwide can help break down at least some these barriers to mobility.