The Changing Field Of Global Mobility




Within the global mobility field, we have seen many changes in recent years, from the types of international assignments offered, to the profiles of the expats themselves, to the drivers for offering and accepting assignments. For many years, sending an employee abroad was about filling a business need. Expatriations were very targeted and usually required a business skill that did not exist in the overseas office. The head office would be the driver of the moves, and the objectives were transferring technology and getting the job done on time and on budget. 

Today we see different types of international assignments, often driven by the need to manage the high costs of expatriation. While long-term assignments are still the most popular, newer models include short-term assignments, in which the whole family does not have to relocate; commuter assignments, in which the employee travels home on a regular basis; and frequent-travel assignments, in which the employee takes regular business trips to a given location.

As more and more organizations globalize, developing a pool of candidates with global business skills who can operate in multiple countries with effectiveness and ease is becoming essential to success. Due to this need, we have seen a rise in developmental assignments.

It is important for both the assignee and their spouse or partner to prepare for an international assignment in order to better support each other – and their children – through the adaptation process. They can learn about how to prepare for the effects of culture shock, share their concerns and develop strategies to ease the transition.

A great way for companies to ready their employees for international assignments is the Cultural Navigator’s four International Assignment Learning Paths: Introduction to the International Assignment Topic Area, Understanding Culture, Preparing for Your International Assignment, and Working In a New Country These interactive Learning Paths provide the assignee and their spouse or partner with resources to plan their move and manage it throughout every stage.

Diane McGreal