As our world becomes more connected, savvy companies are starting to venture into markets outside their home countries. They’re creating new branches of business to capitalize on international markets, to promote innovation and development, and to improve outreach to customers worldwide. To help their endeavors succeed, these businesses sending their own talent abroad.
Given how many businesses are now expanding internationally, it’s astonishing that only 3% of organizations rate themselves “world-class” in global deployments. This statistic reveals a critical problem: most companies are simply doing business as usual when they expand abroad, managing international endeavors the same as they would any ventures in their home countries.
But the world’s markets are constantly evolving, and regulatory requirements—particularly regarding employees—are growing increasingly complex as more countries catch up to top economies. What works for businesses and employees in one country simply doesn’t work in another.
If businesses really want to succeed in this new era of global expansion, they’re going to have to rethink how they manage their international talent pools.
Read on to learn about global mobility, what a global mobility strategy is, and how you can create a global mobility strategy that will help your international endeavors succeed.
What Is Global Mobility?
Some businesses may not even consider their workforces mobile. But most businesses today do actually have mobile workforces. Mobile employees can be workers who have permanent transfers to another country, long-term or short-term assignments in another country, travel often to other countries, or commute to another country regularly.
Global mobility refers to the ability of a workforce to seamlessly move from one country to another and succeed, both in business and personal lives. If a company has achieved true global mobility, it can navigate the following aspects of international workforce deployment with high levels of proficiency and accuracy:
- Culture acclimation: the business teaches global workers about local business practices and interpersonal relationships
- Employment law: the business knows about and provides all contracts, assignment letters, and local legislation requirements
- Global talent management: the business has a successful retention plan and career development program, encouraging top employees to join the global team
- Immigration: the business knows about and can secure all necessary work permits, residence permits, and visas
- Income tax and social security obligations: the business knows about all global worker obligations in both home and host locations
- Payroll: the business manages global payroll with ease, including payment currency, split or shadow payroll requirements, tax withholding, and reporting requirements
- Pensions and benefits: the business provides all necessary home and host pensions and benefits
- Relocation logistics: the business has a structured relocation and return program, and can help global employees situate themselves with ease
Global mobility is critical for businesses that want their new international enterprises—as well as their international employees—to thrive.
What Is a Global Mobility Strategy?
A global mobility strategy is your business’s unique plan for seamlessly transitioning your employees who travel or live in foreign companies.
This strategy offers comprehensive guidance and a structure for cross-border employee mobilization. A top-notch global mobility strategy will be closely linked to your business plan, corporate vision, and workplace values. To create a successful global mobility strategy, you will need to ensure that:
- All relevant team leaders and global mobility consultants are involved in the planning process
- Key considerations are carefully reviewed
- Workflows are meticulously detailed
One of the difficult things about global mobility strategies is that no two strategies will look the same. Because the strategy ultimately depends on your business’s vision and workplace culture, you can’t simply pick up a global mobility strategy template and use it. You have to create your own.
Of course, because it is so complex, your global mobility strategy will take time to develop—but it will be well worth the benefits in the end. A well-planned global mobility strategy is your key to success abroad.
The Importance of a Global Mobility Strategy
As you’ll see in the following sections, a strong global mobility strategy will take a lot of teamwork and time to create. Businesses—especially small businesses—might wonder why they should spend so much time and effort on a strategy that affects only one aspect of their operations. Only so many employees go abroad to work each year, and making one-off plans when these opportunities arise does work, even if it’s a little inefficient.
But there’s a big problem with bypassing a global mobility strategy. Global expansion is on the rise, and businesses that want to continue to grow are going to have to send their teams abroad. It is to their benefit to create a comprehensive plan for deploying and managing their international talent as they continue to scale and relocate across the world. In fact, 88% of business leaders agree that building a future-oriented organization is an important issue.
Ultimately, a thorough global mobility strategy will empower your business to deploy a global workforce:
- Efficiently, under a short timeline with minimum friction
- Consistently, with each individual worker deployment following a similar process
- Compliantly, in regards to both home and host regulations
Regardless of whether you run a small business or head a multinational corporation, mobilizing your workforce as quickly and as seamlessly as possible is going to empower your business to earn more revenue faster than ever before.
Your Global Mobility Strategy Development Team
When your business begins to craft a global mobility strategy, you’ll want to include all potential stakeholders. To properly develop a strategy, your team will need to involve:
A Global Mobility Consultant
First and foremost, you’ll want to have a global mobility consultant like New Horizons Global Partners on your strategy team. New Horizons’ global mobility consulting team has years of experience helping businesses both create and execute their global mobility strategies in top business centers across the world. A global mobility consultant like New Horizons can serve as a single source of knowledge for all things global mobility. Even though no two global mobility policies look the same, New Horizons can share best practices and help you create a strategy that will work best with your specific company. Among other things, New Horizons can:
- Advise your business about local regulations
- Provide details about certification and work visas
- Help your business connect with consulates or embassies
- Offer advise about relocation logistics
- Formulate global deployment processes
- Craft policy benchmarks
- Give ongoing global mobility support
Executives or Thought Leaders
A global mobility strategy is closely linked to your business vision. When creating a global mobility strategy, you’ll be considering forward-looking ideas, like the purposes for your business’s expansion abroad and how much you plan to scale in the upcoming years. For these big-picture insights, you’ll want to include a high-level executive or two.
Your HR team will probably manage some of the ground-level global mobility strategy implementations or coordinate with your global mobility implementation team. In that case, it’s important that they offer their opinions about employee-related processes. In addition, they can bring insights into target employees for your mobility projects as well as talent retention and development strategies. Fifty-three percent of companies report that aligning mobility with talent strategy is a top challenge, so having HR leadership in the room from the very beginning can mitigate this problem.
Your legal team will be important throughout the process of determining your global mobility strategy. They can provide general advice regarding home taxes while an employee is abroad, and they can coordinate with experts in foreign tax and immigration legislation, like New Horizons’ legal experts.
Finally, administrative teams will probably be involved in the global deployment process at some point. It can be useful to have administrators in the room to discuss management of day-to-day global mobility needs, like paperwork workflow.
Key Global Mobility Strategy Considerations
With your New Horizons global mobility consulting team, executives, HR leaders, administrative leaders, and legal team on hand, you can start to draft your unique global mobility strategy. As you work to create a strong framework for global deployment, be sure to touch on the following topics:
Before your company decides to incorporate abroad, consider alternatives. Depending on the type of work your overseas employees engage in, your business’s industry, and local regulations, you may not need to incorporate it. In some cases, you can just register for employment and payroll tax purposes in the host country.
As an easier alternative, you can use a Global PEO like New Horizons to manage both your relocating employees and new hires. New Horizons empowers your business to hire new employees or pay current employees in the foreign country you choose to operate in—without your business having to set up a legal entity in the first place.
Each country you plan to do business in will have different immigration legislation. With the help of your New Horizons global mobility consulting team, your team should compile a list of the necessary work and residence permits for the countries you plan to deploy employees to. You’ll want to determine how much of this process your business will handle for your employees and how much they should handle themselves, as which parties will pay for which immigration fees.
Once you’ve decided these factors, be sure to include them in a comprehensive employee-relocation pamphlet so that relocating employees can understand the process they’ll be going through. Take note that depending on the countries you’re planning to send employees to, a host-country employer-sponsor might be required to manage work permit applications. Of course, if you want to prevent the administrative process from becoming lengthier, you will want to go ahead and hire a PEO like New Horizons. New Horizons can act as your global employees’ employer of record, managing all aspects of the immigration process.
Tax requirements are something your business might want to consider before determining which countries you will want to expand to or send your employees to. You’ll need to work with your New Horizons global mobility consulting team to determine which countries offer the best benefits when it comes to income tax and social security. Be to add key tax plans into your global mobility strategy, including tax equalization, tax protection, and “local plus” taxes.
To ensure that your business is following the rules and regulations when it comes to taxes, you’ll need to hire a PEO like New Horizons, which can manage all payroll-related aspects for your global workforce, including:
- Withholding employee taxes required by the home and host countries
- Withholding for social security and other benefits required by the home and host countries
- Employment of tax specialists to ensure your business gets the best tax arrangement
Compensation is critical to your global mobility strategy. With a clear compensation structure, your employees will know what they can expect when they move to a new country—and feel excited about the prospect. Work with your New Horizons global mobility consulting team to determine the business standards in the countries you’ll be expanding to.
When determining the compensation structure for your global employees, there are a lot of factors to keep in mind. These include:
- Home country salaries
- Host country cost-of-living, housing, and schooling costs
- Host country relocation packages (including travel compensation, house sale assistance, and host country housing fees)
- Potential promotions and pay raises associated with new foreign roles
Talent Acclimation & Retention
Moving abroad can be a stressful experience. If the relocation process is especially hectic or disorganized, or if your global employees simply aren’t prepared for what they find in their new location, you might lose your workers. You’ll also want to have a return process in place for those employees who are not making a permanent move or those employees who do not end up working well abroad. To prevent returns, you’ll need to work with your New Horizons global mobility consulting team to identify key talent acclimation and retention tools.
A lot of acclimation comes down to thorough cultural education. Among other things, you’ll want your global employees to:
- Review the basics of the culture they’re moving to (language, cuisine, climate, dress)
- Learn about the business culture they’ll be immersed in
- Understand their new duties in their overseas position
- Participate in ongoing career advancement education and experiences
Assignments and Assignment Policies
When you deploy your employees to a new location, you won’t be giving them all the same assignments. It’s critical that you adjust your global mobility policies to match the various assignments and assignment types.
For example, you may have 20 different types of assignees, and 2 types of policies that cover their different assignments. You could have 2,000 assignees, and 5 types of policies that cover their different assignments. Whatever the split you choose, be sure that the policy fits the assignment in all cases.
Crafting a comprehensive global mobility strategy takes time, teamwork, and careful thought. In fact, this article is only an introduction to the many business aspects you’ll need to review before creating a successful plan. You’ll want to consider various aspects of global mobility, like immigration requirements, alongside procedural challenges, like deployment workflows, to ensure that the process of global deployment is seamless for each of your employees.
Plus, you can’t forget that the global market is constantly changing. You’ll need to work with your team and global mobility consultants to update your global mobility strategy regularly, ensuring that it reflects the current international environment.
But once you create and implement your global mobility strategy, you’ll find that your global deployment is efficient, consistent, and compliant—the perfect start to grow revenue in a new country.
Ready to create your global mobility strategy? We’re here to help your business hone your strategy and implement your final plan.