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#WorkTrends: The Global Workforce

People around the world are more connected than ever before, and workers are jumping at the chance to relocate. This week on #WorkTrends we’re joined by Steve Black, co-founder of the HR tech company Topia. He shares new research about the state of the global workforce and employees’ perspective on relocating. This episode is sponsored by Topia.

Black explains how he founded the company seven years ago with CEO Brynne Kennedy, and how the business was driven by their personal frustrations as expats as well as the challenges their employers at the time faced moving people around the world.

“Thinking about mobility from a corporate perspective is really about getting the best talent in the best seat regardless of where that is in the world,” Black says.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Generational Split

Black dives into a recent survey the company commissioned on mobility, exploring the differences in opinions and perceptions between individuals within large organizations and leadership teams.

Among the findings was an interesting generational split when it comes to expectations and desires regarding mobility. Specifically, millennials and subsequent generations are much more likely to seek out global experience quickly compared with previous generations.

“They’re looking at it as a career development opportunity rather than an income-generating opportunity,” he says. “They’re willing to move to a new location without a promotion or without a pay raise because they see the opportunity for career progression and growth.”

Gender Divide

Black says the survey data helped put hard numbers around workforce dynamics that had been generally recognized in the business world but not detailed. For example, the survey found that 57 percent of men over the course of their careers had an experience of mobility as part of their career, compared with 40 percent of women.

He says this divide is an important metric to explore as business moves toward more gender equity because a key criteria for representation in the C-suite and on boards of directors is often global experience.

“We’re in an interesting chicken-and-egg situation of until we solve the multi-gender splits within mobility, it’s going to continue to be a blocker and challenge down the road in terms of career progression,” he says.

Tech Solutions

Black says he’s seen organizations and their mobility teams struggle over the past decade-plus with carving out enough time to do the hands-on support, counseling and strategic planning elements of HR. The causes, he says, are often resource-intensive compliance tasks that are a part of mobility, such as manually creating documents and interacting with vendors.

“That balance has ended up with much of mobility being more of an operational function than many of the folks in it would like to be,” he says. “That’s where we’re really starting to see technology come into play and chip away at.”

Black says emerging technologies are automating mobility tasks, from assignment letters and repayments to complex cost forecasts for multi-year assignments around the globe. “You’ve eliminated hours of manual time spent gathering information and doing somewhat menial tasks,” he says. “And you’ve freed up time to counsel, support and talk to the rest of the business around outcome ability — and drive talent strategy rather than reacting to it in an operational way.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Thank you to Topia for sponsoring this episode of #WorkTrends.

Let’s continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific, or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

Is Mobility a Key to Retain Your Talent?

The phrase “world of work” really means the world now. So many businesses are expanding geographically to grow. And that means relocation opportunities for the workforce — as well as a whole range of logistical challenges for HR. But it also means conveying these opportunities to employees. Surprisingly, there’s a disconnect, as Wakefield Research found out in a soon-to-be published study for Topia. The results, shared with me as a preview of the study, reveal that while HR is tackling how to track and facilitate reassignments and relocations, the workforce doesn’t always know these opportunities exist.

Given that we’re in a talent crunch with unemployment still around 4 percent, companies need to strategize effective ways to retain their own talent. What Topia’s study found is that offering employees relocation opportunities may be even more of a win than previously understood. And, actually, not offering relocation opportunities may be even more of a direct loss. Twenty-two percent of U.S. and 33 percent of U.K. professionals have left a job because they weren’t allowed to transfer to another branch or location.

Move to Grow

There are countless reasons one may want to relocate. But most professionals — 70 percent in the U.S. and 75 percent in the U.K. — said they see relocating to another branch in the same company as a career-advancement opportunity, even if there’s no raise or promotion involved.

Mobility is seen by this workforce as an opportunity to grow a whole range of critical career skills, such as cultural competency, flexibility, learning to work with various people and tactical problem-solving. And movement as well as change are growth in themselves — particularly in millennials and younger employees hungry to climb the ladder.

When asked what factor would make an employee hesitate to accept relocating to another branch or location within the company, 37 percent in the U.S. and 30 percent in the U.K. cited capped career growth potential or career progression. If there’s no growth potential, the effort involved in relocating may not be worth it. So companies that need or want to encourage employees to take a relocation assignment may want to make sure they emphasize the career growth opportunities in doing so — and then, of course, make sure that growth can happen.

Help Navigate the Change

While relocation — particularly global mobility — is an enormous undertaking for both employer and employee, companies need to position it as a clear opportunity for their workforce — who likely will be willing to deal with the complexity of relocating if there’s a support system in place.

Indeed, one of the most revealing findings in Topia’s study is the gap between knowledge and execution — which shows that a tremendous resource in terms of engagement and retention is being undermined. For instance the survey found that nearly all hiring executives polled — 96 percent in the U.S. and 97 percent in the U.K. — are well aware that relocation programs have enormous value. But they lack the ways and means to both convey and communicate these opportunities to the workforce, and then to manage mobility successfully.

It’s clear that employees want relocation opportunities — and that’s across the generations. Boomers want them as a way to broaden their horizons and have another experience or two before they retire. Millennials and Generation Z envision success as having a certain kind of forward and outward momentum. For people of color and women, mobility assignments can provide a definitive boost to their career trajectory — it’s been called a great way to “differentiate themselves.”

So why don’t employees know about opportunities? It’s not a question of not having the skills. A core insight of Topia’s research is that the message just isn’t being transmitted. A total of 41 percent of professionals in the U.S. and 40 percent in the U.K. said they either don’t have relocation opportunities or don’t know if such opportunities exist within their company. That’s not stopping them from looking for the chance to expand their horizons; it’s just stopping them from looking within their company. That adds up to a whole lot of missed opportunities, on both sides of the employer-employee equation.

What would close the gap? Far better internal communications, a way for employees to convey their interest in relocation opportunities and a culture that embraces the growth opportunities of relocating as something everyone should be able to experience. But another key factor here is a smart, powerful mobility management program. Companies need better relocation tools — and a holistic way to manage the complexities of relocation, which frees up HR to spend more time communicating and less time knee-deep in administrative tasks. And that can happen. The solution is to partner with an expert — one who combines up-to-date technology with deep knowledge, and who can empower your company to leverage mobility to engage and retain your workforce.

For any company or HR pro facing the prospect of managing mobility in the workforce, the Topia survey is going to be a welcome resource. The preview already paints a compelling picture of the gap between opportunities and awareness for too many employees, and of the need to mitigate the administrative pressure on HR with a more holistic and technologically advanced approach. Stay tuned for the full survey results, to be published by the Topia team in early September.

Zen And The Art Of Talent Management

Bells and whistles and corner offices aside, talent management is dedicated to one basic question, right? Who’s next? From tending the pipeline right through issues of succession, we are tasked with populating a world whose needs never end. May get stormy, may get depressed, but talent needs work and work needs talent.

Downturns lead to upturns, fortunately: the BLS reported that job opportunities increased to 5.4 million this April, with a substantial rise in openings concentrated in professional and business services. The number of hires and separations (quits, layoffs and discharges) stayed nearly the same as the month before: hires were at 5 million; turnover was 4.9 million.

Parse and massage stats like this all you want (e.g. STEM jobs; entry-level; fast-tracks, geography), but anyway you shuffle it, that’s a huge deck of talent to manage. Takes a steady head and, lately, a whole lot of tech.

Given the radical transformation of tools and data available and the new imperatives posed by a global and multigenerational workforce, we also know that HR is taking on a far greater role than just staffing up. With disruption has now come a profound change: Talent is now understood as a huge value issue: most business leaders see people as the key investment for long-term growth. So the next question isn’t a who. It’s a what.

What’s next?

With all those remarkable HR tech innovations we get to feel like kids in a candy store.  All these sweet tools to facilitate onboarding, drive and track employee engagement, conduct assessments, even improve workplace culture and allow for employee movement. And: analytics, metrics; reflective and predictive. A mega-bounty of software and choices; soaring well above the $15 billion mark as an industry.

But. Here’s the what’s next part. We’re still in that candy store, picking from disparate bins, just paying attention to the basics. HR research and advisory firm Bersin by Deloitte reported that a 86% of organizations in 2013 were still focused primarily on basic (reactive) reporting.

Now what we need is protein. As in: a singular centralized, capable platform that can run the whole family of functions, so instead of reacting we’re proacting; instead of managing we’re able to lead.

So how is this going to work and what does it look like? Two essential predictions:

  1. Micro And Macro

To handle the cloud requires smarter aggregating and maintenance of talent data. The first wave of cloud-based data brought a sudden, sheer volume that triggered a kind of panic of functional diversification. Now we have multiple systems for managing data, from individual performance to larger institutional and organizational trends. It’s micro monitoring and macro future casting. But it needs to all be unified into one agile, responsive, enormous (yes) function.

  1. Three Dimensional

The past, present and future play equally in smart analytics. Instead of one data stream for depicting past trajections, another tool for investigating the present and still another for predicting future needs, they all need to work in tandem. Managing talent supply now requires that we leverage a full spectrum of data: all three dimensions, but in real time — not in the aggregate.

Notice I haven’t mentioned social, but that’s because by now, it’s a given; the way we use it is going to have an incredible impact on organizational success in the future. But I will say that it’s the changing culture of talent management that is leading us into a singular, open approach to how we answer that perennial question. Faced with a marvelous toolbox, we now need that the one single tool that can do it all.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Diversity in a New Key: #TChat Preview

EDITOR’S NOTE: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? Read “#TChat Recap: The Creative Power of Diverse Ideas”

INNOVATION. Where does it start? It begins with diversity. Not just diversity of cultures. Diversity of perspectives and personalities. Diversity of ideas. A recent Forbes research report underscores that point:

“Diversity is a key driver of innovation and is a critical component of being successful on a global scale.”

When asked about the relationship between diversity and innovation, a majority of respondents agreed that diversity is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that foster innovation. Senior executives and employees alike are recognizing that a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to innovation and the development of new ideas in and outside the workplace, as we find our career passion.

This week, expanding on ideas inspired by the book “Think Like Zuck,” by Ekaterina Walter, the TalentCulture community wiill explore how innovation grows from diversity. Research, as well as experience from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and other innovators, is teaching us just how desperately we need to include all voices to achieve more effective outcomes. Does crowd-sourcing help innovation? Are all voices and ideas equal? How can Zuckerberg be an example of innovation through diversity? (Doesn’t he represent the ultimate lone inventor?)

Diversity isn’t just about demographics — although that is a first and a key component, without which our companies cannot move forward. Starting with demographic diversity as our foundation, we propose an expanded definition of diversity — not a counterpoint to the demographic meaning, but a flourish upon it. Let’s embrace diversity even more, and explore its power to lead to innovation in the world of work and beyond. This week, relying on diverse views to help us think about this, we’ll seek your voices in exploring these questions:

Q1: What are your unconventional definitions for diversity in the workplace? How is it more than demographics?

Q2: In the world of work, how do leaders nurture and cultivate diversity in its many non-demographic forms?

Q3: How does conventional diversity (i.e., diversity of demographics) play into diversity of ideas?

Q4: What role does #hrtech play in encouraging or discouraging #innovation & diversity of ideas in the workplace?

Q5: How do we exercise unconventional notions of diversity in our approach to #leadership?

Click to see the preview or listen to the show live, Wednesday 1/30, 7:30pm ET

As per the new usual, the #TChat goodness happens twice this week. First, on Tuesday, Jan. 29, there’s #TChat Radio from 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT. Our guest is a long-time member of our community, Rob Garcia (@RobGarciaSJ), director of product strategy & marketing at RiseSmart, a company that is delivering innovative next-generation outplacement solutions.

Then, on Wednesday, Jan. 30 — from 7-8 pm ET (6-7pm CT, 5-6pm MT, 4-5pm PT, or wherever you are) — we’ll tackle this topic on #TChat Twitter, where Rob will return, along with our other guest, Ekaterina Walters (@Ekaterina), herself.

It promises to be a fascinating week. So, please add your voice to the conversation and let’s see what a diversity of ideas can do to move our community forward!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? Read “#TChat Recap: The Creative Power of Diverse Ideas”

Image Credit: PeopleDaily.com

Going Global: Workers Without Borders: #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Matt Charney on MonsterThinking Blog

The History Channel recently rolled out a series called, “How States Got Their Shapes,” a topic so complex that it warranted a serial treatment so intricate it would make Ken Burns blush.

But, Adams-Onis treaty aside, Laurie Ruettimann pretty much summed up the key geopolitical takeaway of history in this recent post on the Cynical Girl blog:

“States — NY, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois, California — are so arbitrary…. We are now loyal to imaginary boundaries and self-contained hamlets. Preferences and cultural divisions emerge, but it’s so stupid to display loyalty to a geography that can’t love you back.”

The arbitrary nature of borders extends to all territories, foreign and domestic, and while we’ve become adept at handling intrastate commerce, but when it comes to global business, the boundaries are more than arbitrary: they’re engrained into the fabric of most organizations.

Historically, many companies have, for reasons ranging from taxes to supply chain efficiencies, separated out the operations of their international business into a complex structure that’s separate, but rarely equal to, the home country, and business culture, which each respective company calls home (or, more commonly, ‘headquarters’).

While many global companies divvy up territories and regions like they’re hashing out the Treaty of Paris, the increased interconnectedness, not to mention economic interdependence, of today’s workplace necessitates a new approach to the challenges of international business.

This is particularly true when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent, whose skills, experience and expertise transcends borders; international teams and work groups are not only becoming an increasing reality, but an important consideration in today’s talent and diversity strategies.

While, as Ruettimann pointed out, “preferences and cultural divisions emerge,” these, like any comprehensive recruiting strategy, are differences easily bridged, both through technology and the shared experience, and desires, shared by workers everywhere.

Concepts like stability, the opportunity for growth, the chance to earn a decent living and so forth might mean different things to different people, but that’s got less to do with location than personal preference, and it’s that preference that creates the only cultural division that really matters anymore: that of corporate culture.

And while, as Ruettimann suggests, “it’s stupid to display loyalty to a geography that can’t love you back,” when it comes to the world of work, it’s that loyalty, and engagement, that create a company’s most significant competitive advantage.

Going Global: Workers Without Borders

#TChat Questions & Recommended Reading (08.10.11)

This week, #TChat moves to its new day and time Wednesday nights at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT, but it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, and we’re excited to kick off our new time slot with a topic that’s truly as big as the world of work.

While our #TChat community comes from around the globe, it’s our shared passion for career and talent management, leadership and workplace culture that keep the conversation going.  We hope  you can bring your international perspective this week; no matter where you are, this week’s topic is truly universal.

To help prepare, and inform, your participation in this week’s #TChat conversation (or if you can’t make it!), here are this week’s questions along with some recommended reading that’s not required, but provides some great background and insight about where global business is at – and where it’s going.

See you Wednesday (that’s August 10 on your calendars) night at 7 PM ET!

Q1: How is globalization changing the world of work?

Read: Gear Up to Compete in A Global Economy by Rusty Weston

Q2: What lessons can US workers & leaders learn from their international colleagues?

Read: 5 Best Practices for Engaging With A Multinational Team by Kevin Sheridan

Q3: What role does workplace or business culture play when working internationally or with global teams?

Read: Global Recruitment: How to Make Your Company A Magnet For Young, Global Talent by Rob Salkowitz

Q4: What can leaders do better to meet the needs of a global or international business?

Read: Is The CEO the new Chief Talent Officer? by Sanjay Modi

Q5: How is technology or social media influencing the rise of global business?

Read: Global Technology Stepping Up Collaboration in the Workplace by Daniel Newman

Q6: What are the biggest opportunities for organizations going global?  Biggest drawbacks?

Read: 7 Tips to Help Your Business Take on the World by Anne Field

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat, as well as other great resources on careers and hiring.

Monster’s social media team supports #TChat’s mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate — the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

We’ll be joining the conversation at our new time this Wednesday night as co-hosts with Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman from 7-8 p.m. (Eastern) via @MonsterCareers and @Monster_Works.