By Tim Wells, VP of Technology at Equus.
An increasing number of organizations are investing in more formal training opportunities for their global mobility team as the range of issues and topics they have to manage grows evermore complex. Throughout 2017, Equus has been proud to support the training and networking initiatives of the Expat Academy, a leading UK-based organization delivering training and networking opportunities specifically to global mobility professionals.
We caught up with Myrianthe Ewington, Head of Client Services at Expat Academy to get the latest on what hot topics are being discussed within the Expat Academy membership, looking at technology, and broader program trends. For more information about Expat Academy, visit www.expat-academy.com.
Tell us a bit about Expat Academy and what you do in the mobility industry.
Expat Academy: Expat Academy is made up of a team of Global Mobility professionals who have in house and service provider experience within the industry and therefore fully understand the challenges Global Mobility professionals face. We offer fantastic technical training and networking opportunities to our members through our network huddles, bite size briefings, training sessions, benchmarking service and annual conference.
Are you seeing a lot of discussion within your membership around technology? If so, what are the hot topics being raised?
Expat Academy: We have seen a few areas around technology that our members have been talking about:
- Short Term Business Visitors (STBVs) – This is definitely a very hot topic for our members as tax and immigration authorities are tightening their processes and procedures. For organizations that get this wrong there are not only the unbudgeted costs to consider but also the reputational risk. Due to budget or resource constraints Global Mobility has traditionally tried to stay clear of administering STBVs. However, given that Global Mobility are the team with the most expertise in dealing with the challenges STBVs present, they are beginning to look at how best to get a handle on this tricky population. Many are turning to technology for solutions to assist them with this.
- Managing Costs – For a while many organizations have been trying to provide the business with an estimate of how much an assignment is going to cost. Now budget holders are asking for more real time data on how much the assignees are actually costing so they can manage their budgets accordingly. By being able to manage costs more closely the business can make more informed workforce planning decisions.
- Reporting – Whether it be using a technology solution or an excel spreadsheet, Global Mobility professionals have been tracking their assignee populations for years. However, we have seen a move towards a greater request for data and metrics. Organizations want to be able to not only see where their assignee population are and the costs involved, but also report on performance and skill set to ensure the business are able to implement effective work force planning and thereby continue to grow. In addition, with recent terrorist attacks in destinations traditionally seen as safe locations, it has highlighted the need for organizations to be able to respond quickly and assist their assignees anywhere in the world.
Are you seeing any major shifts in terms of which policies are being used in corporate Global Mobility programs in 2017 and beyond?
Expat Academy: This can vary across industries but generally the traditional Long Term Assignment (LTA) policy seems to be in decline and more organizations are looking to cut costs or provide more flexible support given that many employees are looking at an assignment as an essential part of their career progression. The use of short term and commuter policies seem to be on the increase to allow people great flexibility around their home country family commitments.
What has Expat Academy got in store for us in 2018?
Expat Academy: 2018 is looking really exciting for Expat Academy members. Alongside the existing benefits that our members have we are bringing in the opportunity to complete our training courses online. In addition we are adding surgeries to the events calendar next year – which will allow our members to have roundtable discussions and put their queries and issues directly to a technical expert. Finally, as a result of member feedback we are looking to take our network huddles into Europe and are currently working with our training partners and our members to ascertain the right locations – so watch this space!!
What’s the outlook for mobility in 2018 and what trends do you see arising over the next year or two?
Expat Academy: Mobility in 2018 will still be on the increase. The trend around more flexible packages, mentioned above, will increase. We also see organizations having to take a closer look at cross border working arrangements of their employees and we see that duty of care is high on the agenda of many of our members.