We are heading into the second half of 2021 considering the impacts of the past year and a half and wondering how COVID-19 will play out, not just for the remainder of this year, but well into the next. While vaccines have helped some locations reduce the impact of restrictions, there are still so many places where the virus continues to surge and negatively impact talent mobility. At the same time, relocation activity here in the U.S. from both new and previously on-hold moves is creating a "peak season on steroids." Add the disruption to the supply-chain, very hot housing markets in many places that have reached all time highs, concerns related to variants, DE&I initiatives, sustainability concerns, the desire for increased flexibility and elevating employee experience while effectively managing costs and you are starting to feel all that is going on in global mobility!

Business optimism is at the highest level in over a decade according to a survey just out from JPMorgan Chase. Nine out of 10 execs are optimistic about their prospects over the next six months…that's double what it was last July. But there are many who are concerned about what the impact of "The Great Resignation" might bring as we look at a record-setting number of job openings that have now surpassed pre-COVID levels. Organizations (and particularly HR and recruitment teams) are finding themselves busier than (maybe) ever in the search for and the securing of needed key talent. Add to this the pent-up demand for people to be mobile and for business to get moving, and we are entering a truly challenging and exciting moment for mobility programs to make an impact and contribute.

Global mobility has become an increasingly important, strategic and valuable tool for attracting, acquiring, developing and retaining top talent. As mobility continues to grow and adapt to add value and be a strategic resource to help guide companies, here are a few trends to chew on that we are seeing:

  1. Candidate and pre-hire experience: When it comes to the pre-hire experience of candidates as they interview and consider their decision to accept a job and relocate, today, talent mobility is playing an increasingly larger role. Recruitment and mobility are partnering to create exceptional candidate experiences to help convert and win talent.
  2. Alternative move types and distributed workforce support: We are seeing mobility toolkits expand to include more options and policies that are designed to help companies match talent to business needs or revenue opportunities. Besides all of the traditional mobility policies of permanent transfers or long-term/short-term assignments, programs are developing and utilizing alternative policies like commuter or rotational assignments or deploying expat-lite or local-plus policies that are less expensive and that better match up with the situation at hand. Currently, virtual assignments are gaining interest as companies assess how to best deploy them while complying with applicable laws and regulations. Compliance for a mobile workforce has always been a challenge and it is now even more complex and important.
  3. SaaS and HRIS system integrations: Companies are increasingly looking to leverage integrations in order to streamline processes for HRIS teams, who often work in 6-7 different technology systems. Integrations with Workday or Taleo, for example, are helping create efficiencies and an improved experience for the team.
  4. The "B2Me" movement: Without a doubt, “employee experience” is still a thing, and mobility teams are working to design transformational program approaches that allow for flexible and personalized experience creation. In light of COVID-19 and what is going on in the world, programs are going back to look at policies to address any reluctance to move. Employees want the control and flexibility to create their own experience that supports them with where they are at in the journey, and companies are looking for innovative and creative ways to do this. Maybe you have heard of the term "B2Me," which is the next evolution of support services and non-traditional benefits that seeks to move beyond core-flex and is about letting employees create their own experience. 
  5. DE&I initiatives: As we see the world around us unfolding, without a doubt diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) will remain a top priority, and talent mobility is developing initiatives and resources to better support all employees. Almost every RFP now includes questions related to supplier diversity and advancing diversity on service teams. There will be much more focus on DE&I themes and solutions. Check out what our CEO has to say about how mobility teams can improve their focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in this Relo Tip Tuesday video.
  6. Sustainability initiatives: With increasing concern about our impact on the environment, and it's impact back on us, expect to see more initiatives and options for moving and traveling in a more environmentally friendly way. Given that Millennials and Gen Z stood out in a new Pew Research Center survey for their high levels of engagement with the issue of climate change, mobility programs are looking to gain an advantage by creating unique green benefit options and services.

If that is not enough food for thought, try this really interesting KPMG report, "Global Mobility Forecast: Trends in risk, talent, and digital." The reality is that things have been complex and are not likely to get any less complex moving forward. The other reality is that talent mobility is not going away and remote work might actually lead to relocation for many!