global mobility

3 Trends Affecting Global Mobility and the Nature of Work

In today’s dynamic and global marketplace, it’s more important than ever that organizations are agile — and they can get there by building adaptive and diverse workforces. That means companies need to be able to move people around the world efficiently to match skills to business needs and to build diverse leadership pipelines. The good news is that workers are jumping at the chance to relocate.

Global mobility enables an agile workforce. I co-founded Topia seven years ago to help companies move people more seamlessly, empower relocating employees and unlock the power of data and insight within mobility.

Agile organizations create more shareholder value because they quickly adapt to changing market conditions. Mobility plays a critical role in this through the access to a global talent pool and more efficiently moving workers into roles that engage them and maximize their skills. Workforce mobility is not some ancillary HR function aimed only at high-level executives, but is essential to every organization’s core business and future-of-work strategy.

We see three trends driving global workforce mobility and the future of work. Smart organizations already understand these dynamics and investing heavily to stay ahead of the curve.

Global Mobility Options Are Now a Must

Today’s complex, global economy makes workforce mobility more important than ever to achieve business objectives. First and foremost, mobility lets organizations access talent they otherwise would miss out on and retain top talent that is at risk of leaving for new opportunities.

We see time and time again in cities across the U.S. and the world that the type of talent you need to support specific functions within an organization may not always be readily available. You have to be flexible.

Mobility is also playing an growing role in attracting and retaining top talent necessary for an adaptive and diverse workforce. A recent survey from Topia and Wakefield Research found that mobility played a large role in persuading professionals to remain at an organization. More than 70 percent of professionals in the U.S. and U.K. said that relocating to another branch in their company would advance their careers — even if the move didn’t include a raise or promotion, the survey found.

Organizations are largely on board. Virtually all HR decision-makers (more than 99 percent) offer mobility options to their employees, the survey found. The problem, however, is that the message isn’t getting through to workers. The survey found that over 40 percent of professionals are not aware of mobility offerings within their own company.

Part of what is driving this disconnect is an approach by organizations to treat mobility as something that’s reactive and reserved for senior leadership. Mobility now has to be a constant when we’re thinking about recruiting, retaining and growing our talent.

Roles Are Evolving Almost as Fast as Technology

Increasingly rapid technology advances are changing roles across nearly every industry, and mobility will play an essential role in helping move the right people into those roles.

HR offers a good example in that it’s evolving into a more self-service function that’s more user-friendly, automated and technology-based — changes that are already the responsibilities that HR professionals deal with in their daily work.

The role of HR has now moved to be a lot more strategic versus tactical — which is a good thing — but it means that the skill set and the type of training that you’re going to employ for new HR talent or people who might have been performing more service roles would need to change.

Changing Demographics Are Reshaping the Workplace

The evolving demographics of the global workforce are creating skills shortages in certain markets and skills surpluses in others. Meanwhile, millennials want to switch jobs and roles more frequently. Both of these dynamics mean mobility will play a key role in how organizations adapt.

The Topia/Wakefield Research mobility survey explored the differences in opinions and perceptions between individuals within large organizations and leadership teams. It found that millennials and subsequent generations are much more likely to seek out global experience quickly compared with previous generations.

Younger workers are more likely to see a transfer as a career-development opportunity, which means they’re more willing to move to a new location without a promotion or pay raise.

Of those selected for transfers, millennials are more likely than other generations to have been relocated by their employer for work. This is true both in the U.S., where 54 percent have relocated at least once (compared with 43 percent for Generation X and 38 percent of baby boomers), and in the U.K., where 61 percent say the same (compared with 52 percent of Gen Xers and 43 percent of boomers.)

If they’re not offered these opportunities, they’re going to leave. The power really is in the hands of the organization, and, most acutely, in the hands of HR leaders in partnership with business leaders and managers, to be having these conversations and looking at career growth and expansion.

This post is sponsored by Topia. To learn more from Topia on the talent mobility disconnect, please visit