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The International Assignment Lifecycle

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World of Opportunity

Think of the international assignment as a lifecycle with four distinct phases.

The International Assignment Lifecycle

Pre-assignment. The hiring manager and Human Resources manager share with you the personal and career opportunities offered by the international assignment.

Preparing for Departure. You receive a Letter of Understanding (LOU) outlining the terms and conditions of the assignment for your review and signature.

On Assignment. You work with the host manager to establish objectives and set performance expectations. A member of the Global Talent Mobility Services team will be assigned as your dedicated liaison.

Repatriation. You return to your home country or head to another international assignment, based on career and development planning.


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Global Assignment Policies & Practices Survey Report Global Assignment Policies & Practices Survey Report Global Assignment Policies & Practices Survey Report

Insights on how global organizations administer their global mobility programs.

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  • Global Assignment Policies & Practices Survey Report

For global mobility leaders of multinational organizations, benchmarking your global mobility policies and practices against those of other global organizations and industry peers can be a powerful tool for reflecting on your current approach and planning how to prepare your talent mobility program for the future. To help, KPMG International conducts this annual survey of global mobility policies and practices of multinational organizations. While the number of participants continues to grow, the resulting database is already believed to be one of the most robust of its kind on a global scale.

The data offers insights into global mobility programs and how they are evolving in terms of mobility, tax and immigration policies, structure, governance, priorities, performance measures, technology, robotics, automation, international remote working and more

Download the 2023 KPMG Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey summary report and scroll down for more on this year's key findings.  

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2023 KPMG Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey

A look into how global mobility programs are evolving based on the survey results from over 100 multinational organizations in jurisdictions worldwide.

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What do the latest results tell us?

The results of this year’s Global Assignment Policies and Practices (GAPP) Survey sheds light on how global mobility programs are continually evolving. In addition to compliance and global risk management, supporting the organization’s business objectives, controlling program costs and being adaptable to changing business requirements are clearly the top priorities for today’s global mobility leaders. The global talent mobility function’s contribution to strategic value for the organization has taken priority; being recognized as a trusted advisor and collaborator to the business.

Many organizations are recalibrating their approach to flexible work arrangements, leaning towards requiring employees to be more present in the office. This shift represents a response to several factors, including the desire for more direct collaboration, and the cultivation of company culture. Businesses, however, must recognize that top professionals now prioritize flexibility and work-life balance. To remain competitive, organizations will need to blend the advantages of in-person collaboration with a continued commitment to accommodating the diverse needs and preferences of their workforce, all while striving to attract and retain the best talent in this ever-evolving employment environment.

Recognizing the importance of attracting, retaining, and developing top talent as a competitive advantage, the global mobility function plays a pivotal role in making this vision a reality. This alignment helps ensure the right people are in the right place at the right time, with the skills and expertise to drive the organization forward. By harmonizing global mobility with talent initiatives, companies can leverage international experience, facilitate career growth, and support the evolving needs of their workforce, ultimately contributing to sustained success and an agile response to the ever-changing demands of the global marketplace.

Global mobility functions continue to place a strong emphasis on technology due to its transformative impact on the way organizations manage their global workforce. In terms of global mobility, technology serves as an enabler, allowing companies to optimize the deployment of their talent on a global scale. By leveraging technology, global mobility functions can not only improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness but also enhance the overall employee experience, making it an indispensable tool for organizations seeking to navigate the complexities of global talent management while remaining agile, competitive, and compliant in the dynamic global landscape.

There has been a notable increase in the incorporation of inclusive language and a heightened awareness of accessibility concerns within mobility policy development. As organizations strive for greater diversity and inclusivity, it has become essential to ensure mobility policies address the unique needs of all employees. This shift underscores a commitment to providing equitable opportunities for all, irrespective of individual circumstances or identities. Organizations are recognizing that mobility policies must be accessible, accommodating, and free from bias, thereby fostering a more inclusive work environment.

There continues to be an ongoing trend of short-term cross-border mobility by companies. Short-term assignments, often lasting weeks or a few months, provide companies with a flexible solution to address specific projects, knowledge transfers, or market exploration without the long-term commitment of traditional expatriate assignments. This trend aligns with the evolving preferences of a mobile and diverse workforce, and as companies continue to prioritize agility and adaptability, short-term cross-border mobility is likely to remain a prominent feature of talent management strategy.

Benchmark your organization today!

KPMG’s Global Mobility Services practice members can provide a personalized benchmarking report allowing you to compare your organization across key areas of interest. Participants find this useful in evaluating their organizational policies against a specific set of parameters. In addition to key organizational demographics and global mobility policy overview, the survey questions follow an overarching framework of the key phases of an international assignment and transfer life cycle with additional relevant topical categories covering immigration compliance, assignment management technology leverage, automation and robotics and program data and analytics insights.

If you would like to participate in the KPMG GAPP Survey and receive a personalized benchmarking report, please click here . To learn more about how KPMG’s Mobility Consulting Services can help you build an operating model that serves and delivers for your organization, please send an email to [email protected] .

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Sustainable Expatriate Management: Rethinking International Assignments

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This article explores the concept of sustainable expatriate management, which incorporates environmental, social, and economic factors, and how it can be implemented in a corporate context. We argue that with increasing societal and environmental issues, it is crucial to revisit the overall global philosophy and policies, including the expatriate life cycle. We apply the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework to examine how businesses can remodel their practices to become more resilient. Furthermore, based on a systematic literature review, we identified gaps in research on the integration of environmental factors into sustainable expatriate management. Lastly, this article presents a model for understanding the three layers of sustainability in expatriate management, which can assist practitioners in identifying blind spots and material topics.


According to Ghauri, Strange and Cooke (2021) , the global business environment has improved awareness of sustainability as a ‘new reality’. Furthermore, addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a corporate context is becoming increasingly popular (Liou & Rao-Nicholson, 2021; Montiel, Cuervo-Cazurra, Park, Antolín-López, & Husted, 2021; van Tulder, Rodrigues, Mirza, & Sexsmith, 2021) . Although “sustainable” and “green” global mobility are widely discussed concepts, they have not yet been widely integrated into sustainable expatriate management.

However, due to its nature, expatriate management is exposed to various societal and environmental issues that are forcing the field to move towards more sustainability-oriented practices. This implies that decision- and policy-makers should revisit the overall global philosophy, including policies and practices. Therefore, stakeholders should reevaluate topics like business trip policies, health, and equality, as well as other facets of the international assignment cycle (Fan, Zhu, Huang, & Kumar, 2021) . Consequently, in this paper, we will outline how practitioners can rethink expatriate management using a sustainable development lens and how this shift in perspective provides fertile ground to redesign the expatriate life cycle.

Inspired by the “strong sustainability” or embedded systems view (Giddings, Hopwood, & O’Brien, 2002) , we define sustainable expatriate management as any employee-related cross-border (work) activity, which, by its design, considers planetary and societal boundaries and acknowledges the embeddedness of economic impacts within this larger framework (see Figure 1 for clarification).

Figure 1

Source: Own illustration based on Giddings et al. (2002) , p. 192.

Theoretical Framework: Sustainable Development Goals

According to Finaccord’s (2019) latest research, in 2017, there were 66.2 million expatriates working abroad globally, and forecasts for 2021 expect 87.5 million in total. Therefore, this topic affects a relatively large amount of people moving across borders. Nowadays, increasing environmental, social, and economic crises are challenging global business practices. According to the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report, the risks that are most likely and will have the most impact are predominantly environmental risks (e.g., climate action failure, human environmental damage, biodiversity loss, natural degradation, extreme weather, natural resources crises) (World Economic Forum, 2022) . These are expected to affect multinational enterprises’ (MNEs) activities on a global scale.

As the complex, or so-called wicked, problems of our time are interconnected, it is crucial to avoid a siloed perspective of these risk categories. Therefore, we provide a holistic, SDG-focused perspective that addresses the question of how MNEs’ business practices need to be remodeled to become more resilient. We view business sustainability in terms of environmental, social, and economic systems and consequently apply the UN Sustainable Development Goals “wedding cake” framework (Stockholm Resilience Centre, 2018) . This model implies that the environmental, social, and economic layers are interdependent, as well as their respective sublevel SDGs, as indicated in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

Source: Own illustration based on Stockholm Resilience Centre, 2018

Based on Figure 2 , the biosphere/environment represents the foundation of economies and societies and, therefore, the general context in which all other SDGs must be placed. Society cannot survive without the environment, which is why society must pay attention to resources and the preservation of habitats. Such a conceptualization adopts an integrated and interconnected view of social, economic, and ecological development to ensure the future viability of the planet and its living species.

Three Layers of Sustainability in Expatriate Management: Identifying Blind Spots

Based on a systematic literature review of 238 articles clustered according to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their respective layers, environment/biosphere, society, and economy, it is evident that research in this field has been increasing in recent years. Furthermore, it shows that the expatriate management literature is dominated by social issues (80%), followed by economic literature (19%), and work that focuses on the environment/biosphere (1%) (Ommen, Schmitz, & Karlshaus, 2022) . Considering that expatriate management is a part of international HRM literature, it is unsurprising that the social category dominates; however given the growing importance of the climate crisis discourse, it is surprising that this has not yet been addressed in research and practice.

This social literature is dominated by articles addressing SDG 5 “Gender Equality” and SDG 3 “Good Health and Well-being” as well as limited literature focused on SDG 16 “Peace, Justice, Strong Institutions”. In the economic category, the literature most often addresses SDG 10 “Reduced Inequalities” and SDG 8 “Decent Work and Economic Growth”, followed by SDG 17 “Partnership for the Goals” as an overarching category. Finally, the ecological category is only represented in one article addressing SDG 13 “Climate Action”, which has only recently been published (Ommen et al., 2022) (see Table 1 for an overview).

Source: Own illustration; for a full list of references, see Ommen et al., 2022 , and the Appendix to the article. *“–” indicates SDG cases for which blind spots were not identified in this study

What Is Material for Sustainability in Expatriate Management?

In the sustainability reporting discourse, understanding materiality (i.e., identifying elements of utmost importance to a company’s sustainability challenges) has become increasingly important as part of the international ESG factors: environment, society, and governance. Furthermore, organizations attribute different levels of importance to specific environmental or social factors based on the sectors they operate in.

Considering the essential or material topics, MNEs need to first reduce or avoid their negative impacts (e.g., CO 2 emissions etc.) and also increase their positive impacts (e.g., fostering intercultural ties). By doing so, MNEs can significantly reduce the respective risks to which they are exposed.

The emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) is among expatriate management’s negative material environmental impacts, due to flights, shipments, hotel stays, and local transportation (SDG 13). These also include water and land use due to construction activities (SDG 6, 15), and waste management that should be reconsidered from an environmental perspective.

From a social perspective, negative impacts on equal opportunities can be caused by disparities in pay and promotion opportunities (SDG 5), working conditions, and health issues related to increasing travel activities and continuous readjustment (SDG 3). Furthermore, expatriates working in hostile environments or dangerous locations need adequate protection mechanisms and respective codes of conduct (SDG 16). Finally, integration into local communities during long-term stays might become relevant for some expatriates and their families (SDG 11).

From an economic perspective, a positive impact could be generated by supporting the local economy (SDG 8). However, negative impacts can arise through unequal opportunities because of the different treatment of expatriates and locals (SDG 10). To reduce this, companies should ensure responsible local consumption and circular use of respective household appliances or furniture in apartments (SDG 12).

In sum, MNEs should consider the following Sustainable Development Goals to reduce their negative impact and increase their positive impact:

Environmental : SDG 13 Climate Action

Social : SDG 3 Good Health and Well-being, SDG 5 Gender Equality, SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

Economic : SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities, SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production

Sustainable Expatriate Management: Actionable Recommendations

The above discussion suggests that companies can derive a specific prioritized agenda. Inspired by the SDG Compass (Global Reporting Initiative, United Nations Global Compact, & WBCSD, 2015) , we advance these considerations by sharing how MNEs can best address the SDGs in sustainable expatriate management. For an overview of selected ideas for each of the SDGs, please also see Table 2 .

Source: Own illustration; based on selected measures of the SDG Compass Business Indicators; Note: Not all themes will apply to all types of MNEs or all sectors equally. As expatriates are usually relatively privileged, we suggest that they should use their privileged status to support disadvantaged groups and individuals to meet SDGs.

Defining Priorities

First, each of the material topics needs to be evaluated for each company. Certain topics may be more or less relevant in a corporate context, depending on the respective sector. Taking the example of GHG emissions (SDG 13), most emissions come from consultants on regular short-term assignments or business commuting trips if the company is in the service delivery sector. Therefore, these emissions play a more significant role for the company.

In terms of gender equality (SDG 5), a company should first investigate the share of women in their overall assignee population, including management positions. Based on a materiality matrix approach, respective stakeholders should evaluate their priorities alongside considering the judgment of material topics to attain a holistic perspective. By taking this approach for all topics associated with each SDG, MNEs can prioritize different materiality topics.

Setting Strategic Goals

To transform international assignments at the company level, MNEs need strategic concepts, including tools, to impact the defined materiality topics discussed above. There are different levers available to create change, including international assignment policy, processes, and culture. A policy can be designed so that assignees are nudged to not take air shipments, which cause significant GHG emissions (SDG 13). Further, by working with stakeholders across the supply chain, MNEs should implement key performance indicators (KPIs) to reduce negative impacts. To be effective, these should align with scientific facts and goals, such as the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Integrating the Goals

After defining their strategy and goals, MNEs should next address their implementation needs. This should particularly consider the sustainable consumption of mobility-related benefits (SDG 12), where there may need to be a mindset shift. Therefore, in the preparation phase, assignees need to be made aware of their choices. To do this effectively, departments taking care of international assignments may need to be trained on related topics while they consult assignees. Besides policy changes, MNEs should also implement profound changes, for example in terms of gender equality (SDG 5). Managers should be aware of equal selection principles and provide women with support mechanisms to ensure equity if they become the main caregiver for their children.

Measuring and Evaluating

Finally, MNEs need to track whether the implemented measures have been effective. This means measuring an international assignment program’s GHG emissions (SDG 13), environmental impact, gender share (SDG 5), and other measures. If the result does not meet the initial targets, the previous phases (strategy development, implementation) should be analyzed to see if adjustments are necessary. To better integrate the respective measurement indicators with those already existing in the corporate context, the SDG Compass website provides respective input categorized by SDG: .

Although there is awareness of pressing contemporary challenges in the field of expatriate management, action is still needed to decrease the negative impact on society, the economy, and the environment. Many concepts aim to address sustainability across borders. However, research has not yet produced a hands-on and integrated SDG framework for expatriate management. In this work, we aim to inspire and motivate practitioners to take action and further their sustainability ambitions. Although our paper is labeled rethinking expatriate management, the challenges outlined equally apply to inpatriates, repatriates, and other forms of cross-border assignments.

Companies need to be more aware of the environmental and social impacts of their programs and need to monitor processes to increase transparency across their vast service portfolios and associated supply chains. This is not only necessary because of sustainability but also to comply with legislative requirements (e.g., EU Taxonomy). However, corporate departments dealing with international assignments are not facing these challenges alone. They need to form partnerships (SDG 17) and collaborate with their vendors and internal stakeholders (enabling functions, corporate sustainability, procurements, etc.) to drive the much-needed change toward sustainable development.

About the Authors

Marina A. Schmitz serves as a Researcher and Lecturer at the Coca-Cola Chair of Sustainable Development at IEDC-Bled School of Management in Bled, Slovenia as well as CSR Expert/Senior Consultant at Polymundo AG in Heilbronn, Germany. She has worked as a Lecturer, Research Associate, and Project Manager at the Center for Advanced Sustainable Management (CASM) at the CBS International Business School in Cologne and the Chair of HRM and Asian Business at University of Goettingen. Enno Ommen is working in Bayer AG’s Sustainability Excellence Office at CropScience Division. He had previously worked in the area of Global Mobility for about 10 years, which equipped him with profound knowledge in the field of expatriate management. He studied International Business (BA) at CBS International Business School and International Human Resource Management (MSc) at Manchester Business School. Further, as one of Bayer AG’s Sustainability Champions, Enno is supporting the sustainable transformation of the company. Anja Karlshaus studied at the University of Cologne, Santa Clara University (USA), and the European Business School. In 2009, she took over the HRM professorship at CBS International Business School, later assumed the role of dean of the Business Administration faculty, before being appointed president. Moreover, she was previously employed at Dresdner Bank, Allianz and Commerzbank – being now member of various committees (Chamber of Industry and Commerce, City of Cologne, State of NRW). She researches sustainability, diversity, and agile HR.

Submitted : September 30, 2022 EDT

Accepted : April 06, 2023 EDT

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A Successful International Assignment Depends on These Factors

  • Boris Groysberg
  • Robin Abrahams

Your marriage, your family, and your career will all benefit from advance planning.

The prospect of an international assignment can be equal parts thrilling and alarming: Will it make or break your career? What will it do to your life at home and the people you love? When you’re thinking about relocating, you start viewing questions of work and family — difficult enough under ordinary circumstances — through a kind of high-contrast, maximum-drama filter.

international assignment cycle

  • BG Boris Groysberg is a professor of business administration in the Organizational Behavior unit at Harvard Business School and a faculty affiliate at the school’s Race, Gender & Equity Initiative. He is the coauthor, with Colleen Ammerman, of Glass Half-Broken: Shattering the Barriers That Still Hold Women Back at Work (Harvard Business Review Press, 2021). bgroysberg
  • Robin Abrahams is a research associate at Harvard Business School.

Partner Center

  • State-of-the-Art
  • Published: 19 January 2018

The family in the center of international assignments: a systematic review and future research agenda

  • Julia Goede   ORCID: 1 &
  • Nicola Berg 1  

Management Review Quarterly volume  68 ,  pages 77–102 ( 2018 ) Cite this article

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Over the past 30 years, the number of studies investigating the family interface of international assignments has risen substantially. While alternative forms of international assignments have been gaining importance, this article focuses specifically on the family interface of traditional organization assigned expatriation as the most prominent and most researched form of global work. Thus far, research has investigated a broad array of topics ranging from the family’s willingness to relocate over family adjustment to work-family balance and utilized a large variety of theoretical foundations. Given this variety in the literature, the field is fragmented and lacks a consistent theoretical argumentation. As a first step to provide some organization, we synthesize the family expatriation literature by developing a comprehensive multi-level framework of the determinants and dimensions of family outcomes. To achieve this objective, we critically assess publications between 1985 and 2017 in peer-viewed international journals, examine theoretical foundations and review the extant literature based on our framework. With this we uncover similarities and inconsistencies in the field, which allows us to deduce an agenda for future research and offer recommendations for practice.

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Goede, J., Berg, N. The family in the center of international assignments: a systematic review and future research agenda. Manag Rev Q 68 , 77–102 (2018).

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international assignment cycle

Transforming global mobility: case studies

By Kati Rasetti , Mercer

This is a continuation of our recent article on GM transformation: the journey towards optimization, automation, and business partnering. Click here to access the article.

As part of Mercer’s June 2020 GM Transformation webinar series, three organizations from different industries presented their transformation journeys, highlighting the business context, key structural changes, outcomes, and learnings from their respective transformation processes.

Company Case Study 1 — Consumer goods sector

Offshoring of activities to shared services center, digitalization and change of the department’s purpose in the direction of business advisory

Changing stakeholder expectations and the need to align to new GM trends are driving the GM transformation project at this large organization overseeing a complex mobility program.

Status quo and departure point

There are three mobility policies:

  • Long-term assignments — characterized by significant growth (from 200 in 2004 to 750 today); home-based approach
  • Short-term assignments — 120 employees
  • Project expatriations — a type of short-term assignment

The GM business operates as a delivery function via a centralized team in Switzerland, looking after the whole spectrum of mobility activities, including administrative tasks.

Business case and reason for change

A change in top management altered mobility concepts and stakeholder expectations in 2017. Questions arose: What is the value of sending people on an international assignment? Is it the right decision for everyone? How does the company ensure it selects the right employee for the task?

To find answers to these questions, the company conducted a survey addressing People & Culture Team representatives (in the area of HR) and assignees. The survey asked what elements of the assignment program worked well and what challenges the program faced.

The survey identified the following challenges:

  • Lack of clear roles and responsibilities defined between HR and GM teams and other stakeholders
  • Cost allocation and budgeting issues
  • Slow and cumbersome relocation and immigration process; lack of onboarding processes in host country making integration difficult for assignees

After analyzing the challenges, the company concluded that there were opportunities for improvement in several areas and decided on the following priorities:

  • Increase mobility team market knowledge.
  • Standardize onboarding processes.
  • Establish an efficient mobility platform for internal end users.
  • Simplify processes for assignees, reduce their contact points throughout the IA lifecycle and increase flexibility.

Action points and project destination

The company has started its journey toward transformation and plans to take a number of actions, which are still underway.

Strategically align with the business and talent management:

  • Develop GM role from a back office service into a strategic function with an advisory role to the business.
  • Centralize process ownership.
  • Integrate mobility with the talent agenda, and support talent management with the mobility program.

Establish competitive and robust programs and solutions:

  • Provide better career-planning opportunity for assignees. Enable expatriates to maintain regular relationships with home-country line management during assignments so they’re able to understand and plan the next career steps together.
  • Redesign the programs and scope.
  • Review balance sheet approach and compensation methodology.
  • Increase assignment segmentation.

Create systems and processes that deliver a positive assignee experience:

  • Implement cutting-edge technology to track exceptions, enable cost and return-on-investment measurement of assignments, and attain cost savings.
  • Optimize process: Create workflows to enhance stakeholder experience (assignees, HR, vendors).
  • Embrace and exceed market trends.
  • Recognize diversity and compliance across the board, and consider internal audit to measure the outcome.
  • Reduce the number of stakeholders participating in the assignment life cycle, and create lean, simplified procedures.
  • Offshore some of the administrative tasks to the new shared services center as of January 1, 2021.

Company Case Study 2 — Life sciences sector

Change in delivery model to outsource and offshore some mobility tasks

The GM transformation journey originated with the company-wide strategy to utilize a shared service center (SSC), but it was initially limited to pure administration. The transformation journey was accelerated about two years ago and is planned to reach its destination within the next two years.

The company’s mobility function is based in three countries, with a central team managing assignments from Switzerland (HQ) and a smaller team in the US. A shared services center was also established in an Eastern European location in 2012.

The company operates three assignment programs, including a long-term program, a short-term program and a rotational assignment plan, covering approximately 650 assignees.

Swiss- and US-based teams handled both advisory and administrative mobility tasks in the past. This changed when the shared service center was established and took a back office role. The model developed further again in 2018 when the SSC integrated package creation and payroll report activities into its portfolio. This operation model and distribution of tasks between HQ and SSC was a pilot case in transforming the company’s entire HR function.

The company has operated via a decentralized system in the past, with central mobility teams having both global governance and delivery responsibility and local HR teams looking after local vendors (such as immigration, housing and destination services providers). This model faced challenges in 2016 and 2017 when the company was going through a change, and the number of assignment country combinations increased significantly. Lack of transparency, consistency and reliable data across different locations was observed. This set the scene for having to implement an action plan to re-optimize function operations.

  • To enhance transparency, provide better control for the GM team and establish consistent treatment of assignees, the company implemented a global relocation vendor in 2018.
  • The company will centralize payroll management in the near future and plans to implement global payroll for assignments.
  • Future changes to the program portfolio may place extended business trips and permanent transfers under the GM umbrella.
  • The company plans to select and implement an advanced technology platform to increase efficiency, speed, costs and IA tracking.
  • Offshoring of advisory roles is being considered.

Company Case Study 3 — Manufacturing sector

Partial centralization and technology enhancement

The initiative to revise the GM function to achieve “best-in-class” mobility is a journey integrating assignment management technology, involvement of centralized vendors, policy and process review, and cost efficiency.

The company has seen a recent decrease in the number of international assignments, with approximately 100 expatriates currently assigned across 32 countries. The majority of expatriates are on the organization’s long-term mobility program. The company undertakes 35-40 moves annually.

The partially centralized GM team is based in Switzerland and sits under the corporate C&B team. This team has responsibility for creating assignment packages and issuing contracts, coordinating the assignment lifecycle, closing out stakeholder questions, and managing tax and health insurance vendors. Local HR departments manage local relocation and destination service providers in each country.

Transforming the mobility setup had an internal driver. A changing C&B leadership team in 2016 resulted in a vision to achieve a best-in-class, modernized function, which also included reshaping delivery and administrative GM functions. As a first step to put the vision in practice, the company hired an external mobility head with considerable market experience across industries on an international scale.

The change began with mapping the organization, company culture and HR to establish an approach for improving the mobility function. Working closely with GM team members, the leadership team reviewed four topics:

  • Vendor setup

A roadmap had been prepared by the whole GM Team which was followed by stakeholder buy-in efforts. Activities have begun to be implemented, all centered around contributing to achieving the “best in class” mobility target:

  • Upskilling the GM team by having them participate in projects, widening their knowledge and providing them with professional opportunities.
  • Hiring a global tax provider to achieve full compliance.
  • Reviewing current policies and designing a framework for international transfer and localization scenarios.
  • Developing a strong and rational exception process to reach a decrease in number of exceptions with the purpose of cost saving and consistency / internal equity.
  • Launching an internal mobility webpage for the global HR community including all processes to share knowledge in the company on the GM program.
  • Assignment management digitalization and further technology enhancement with partial headcount to be replaced with automation of the end-to-end assignment process.

The winds of change have been sweeping the GM landscape for some time, but this change has accelerated greatly in the last three to five years. And more may be yet to come — potentially in the context of a looming economic downturn driven by the current health crisis.

According to Mercer’s 2019 Global Mobility Transformation Survey , GM managers across different companies have already identified some of the toughest challenges they will face in the future. Among them is the need to reorganize the function to make it more efficient and strategic to the business. The lack of integration with talent management is a primary concern, but integration is also needed with other parts of the business, such as finance and compliance.

The realities presented above and in our case studies are accelerating the need for GM to keep up with changing business strategies and embrace a continuous transformation attitude today and in the future.

Related Articles

Free webinars Our 2023 Global Mobility Masterclass series is designed to help you keep pace with the evolution of international talent mobility and global workforce management in the new world of work.

Policy benchmarking Gain insights into your peers' international assignment programs and global mobility policies and practices. Participate in Mercer surveys to access unique benchmarking solutions.

Need help? Whether your organization is looking to create a global mobility program, enhance the one you currently have, or get answers to any issues or concern you're facing, we can help.

Get the latest global mobility news, event invitations, and articles from Mercer. sign up now

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