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min read

6 global mobility trends to watch in 2024 — and what they mean for HR

Charting the course for HR and global mobility amidst shifting tides

In an era defined by dynamic shifts and unprecedented uncertainty, the realm of global mobility stands as a pivotal arena for change. As we step into 2024, the business of moving employees continues to evolve, influenced by external forces. Organizations find themselves at a crossroads where adaptation isn't just an option, but a necessity.

Human Resources and global mobility departments help their organizations and employees navigate change and disruption. In fact, the integral role of HR as a strategic partner has significantly escalated, marking a shift from a 36% involvement in 2021 to a commanding 50% in 2024. This evolution propels organizations toward greater agility and effectiveness; when HR takes a strategic stance, firms are 1.8X more likely to adapt to capture new opportunities.

With global mobility solving corporate hiring challenges and enhanced data analytics proving the department’s return on investment (ROI), global mobility has earned a top spot on CEO agendas.

As you strategize how to hit key objectives in 2024 and help your organization maintain a competitive edge, take a moment to understand today’s most significant trends. The following six trends are poised to drive organizational decisions and shape the trajectory of your global mobility strategy:

1. Digital transformation for enhanced mobile employee experience

Impacting relocation experiences and processes, the digital revolution stands as a defining force in global mobility. As businesses strive for greater agility and responsiveness, advanced technology and data analytics emerge as linchpins redefining global mobility operations.

1. Advanced technology: The synergy between people and artificial intelligence (AI) is slated to become the cornerstone of successful technology-first mobility programs. While AI and predictive analytics expedite neighborhood searches and personalize the delivery of relevant content, automation creates a smoother onboarding experience, enhances the completion of tasks for relocating talent and internal teams, and consolidates traditionally disjointed processes into a unified access point. Increased productivity and efficiency is the driving force behind the implementation of generative AI this year.

2. Mobility data analytics and insights: Data analytics unleash transformative insights for strategic decision-making, bolstering cost reduction, fostering inclusive programs, and fortifying organizational culture. With data insights, employers can finetune relocation assistance, right-size headcount and hiring plans for every office location, and create accurate budgets.

Without precise data, understanding what’s important to your relocating populations and where they’re succeeding and where they’re struggling can be nearly impossible. That’s why technology that provides such insights greatly impacts a mobility team’s ability to build a positive mobile employee experience. 

In fact, a recent report states, “...accessible and reliable technology is central in ensuring a smooth day-to-day employee experience.” The same report notes that when firms are highly effective at:

• Using technology to facilitate the performance of tasks, they’re 2.1X more likely to be high-performing at adjusting to capitalize on new opportunities.
• Reducing friction in tasks, they’re 2.1X more likely to be high-performing at workplace productivity.

What this trend means for global mobility and HR leaders

Corporate relocation is a prime arena for leveraging technology to showcase culture, optimize operations, and elevate the employee experience. Global mobility teams seeking to modernize the relocation process can utilize advanced technologies, reducing friction for mobile employees, suppliers, and internal teams. 

In 2024, prioritize solutions that foster strategic agility, drive cost savings through efficient processes, enhance mobile employee well-being, promote sustainability, and align with business growth objectives. Also, leverage AI-powered solutions that cater to individual employee needs, offering self-service experiences, connecting talent easily to their relocation providers, and fostering engagement. Features that connect talent to others in the cohort and the corporate culture foster employee engagement and boost morale, aligning with evolving employee expectations.

And don’t forget to leverage technology that provides the data and analytics you need to tell the global mobility story and prove the value of your program. Ultimately, modern technology enables HR and global mobility leaders to streamline the relocation process, realize cost savings, demonstrate program value, and improve the mobile employee experience, enhancing engagement and meeting employee expectations.

2. Strategic policy updates

Strategic planning has historically been difficult for global mobility leaders, but considering the needs of your relocating talent makes policy updates easier. To craft policies that meet the diverse needs of today’s globally mobile workforce, be sure to:

1. Take a holistic approach: Account for relocation’s profound impact on talent’s lifestyles and offer benefits that help employees thrive in new places. Offer more than money; additional benefits like destination services put relocating talent at ease by walking them through the process and introducing the new city and culture. Providing this level of holistic relocation assistance keeps mobile employees focused on work and shows your commitment to their satisfaction, which amplifies talent retention.

2. Personalize relocation: Mobile employees expect tailored, location-specific assistance that eases their unique transitions. Personalization in the form of localized home-finding trips, city-specific cultural training, and customized lump sums acknowledges the diversity in employee needs.

3. Offer flexibility: Flexibility is a lasting trend. Mobile employees expect flexibility in their relocation packages. Whether you give them the option to select some services and opt out of others or configure a variety of packages that address a range of needs, providing flexibility ensures that all of your employees receive the support they truly need.

What this trend means for global mobility and HR leaders

We see a rise in core-flex policies and a resurgence in lump sums as organizations aim to provide employee choice and meet expectations around flexibility. Core-flex policies allow each employee to choose the relocation services they want, while lump sums just include cash, giving talent complete control over spending decisions. However, we see a difference in the way employers deliver lump sums now versus how they did in the past: Some employers — realizing the stress employees face during relocation — are offering relocation guidance and destination services along with cash to help talent through the relocation process and provide Duty of Care. 

Whether you give employees a list of services to choose from in a standardized framework or lump sums to offset relocation costs, providing for as many relocation needs as possible and offering flexibility and personalization will ensure you meet the diverse needs of your talent.

3. Global mobility as a solution to talent & skill shortages

Global mobility is a key tactic for addressing the mounting talent and skill shortages projected for 2024. Baby Boomers are retiring in droves, yet there aren’t enough young workers to replace them. When it comes to skills, college enrollment rates are down, which means fewer Generation Z workers possess the academic credentials and skills to fill open job postings. In fact, college enrollment has dropped by 10% in the last decade as a result of falling birth rates, escalating tuition costs, and pandemic-induced financial difficulties.

These facts, combined with an estimated 44% of core skills changing in the next five years and an impending global talent deficit of over 85.2 million workers by 2030, mean that leaders must find creative ways to get the right talent in the right place at the right time — for the right cost.

What this trend means for global mobility and HR leaders

For global mobility leaders, partnering with the talent acquisition (TA) team is critical to fostering talent mobility and overcoming talent and skill shortages. Programs for rotational leadership, on-assignment projects, and virtual assignments with longer-term business travel are excellent opportunities for global mobility teams to help TA and HR departments take a synchronized approach to identifying, acquiring, and developing talent and their skill sets.

For talent acquisition leaders, hiring foreign talent presents a potential solution to talent and skill shortages. However, restrictive immigration policies, such as limited visa caps like the H-1B, can pose significant limitations. For companies requiring in-office or hybrid work structures, talent acquisition and global mobility teams can partner closely to leverage mobility services as part of the hiring process for key hires to assist with pre-initiations, candidate decision making, group moves or the like. With higher hire rates achieved through these overlay relocation services, smaller candidate pools and fewer recruiters are required to close key job openings with faster time-to-fill and time-to-hire rates. 

Ultimately, employers must get creative with their recruiting and retention strategies. Competitive relocation benefit packages can be an incentive for new and existing talent to fill key roles and develop important skills. Regularly benchmarking relocation benefits ensures competitiveness in the talent marketplace.

Keeping these things in mind will help global mobility and talent acquisition leaders navigate the impending workforce crisis.

4. Changing workforce and workplace dynamics

This year presents a significant challenge for global mobility and HR leaders to align strategies with new workforce and workplace dynamics, including employee- and employer-led relocations.

The rise in employee-led relocations and digital nomadism — whether for lower living costs or enhanced work-life balance — necessitates stringent compliance practices. To monitor and validate the unique journey of each employee, companies must navigate shifting regulatory environments and employment laws, particularly those relevant to short-term nomad visas, which allow talent to travel and work from anywhere (WFA) internationally. Taxation complexities further compound these compliance concerns.

Simultaneously, employer-led return-to-office (RTO) initiatives, propelled by the desire for in-office presence, may require some employees and new hires to relocate due to post-pandemic office consolidations. As employers reconcile traditional expectations for in-office work and modern employee preferences around flexibility, the hybrid work model is becoming increasingly common. In fact, one survey estimates that hybrid work will increase by 81% in 2024, while remote work will decrease by 19%. 

What this trend means for global mobility and HR leaders

For global mobility and HR leaders, these trends imply several critical considerations, such as the need for flexible working arrangements across employee demographics and mobility policies that accommodate voluntary moves. Such policies typically include lump sum payments or reimbursement for the relocation of household goods.

Additionally, global mobility emerges as a potential long-term solution for reducing costs related to employee turnover while navigating changing work dynamics. Amid economic slowdown, high rents and home prices, low housing inventory, and inflated moving costs, allowing global working can be a cost-effective strategy for retaining critical talent. The flexibility to work internationally may also remove the need for employees to sign up for shared or co-living arrangements.

Today’s changing workforce and workplace dynamics demand adaptability and innovation from talent mobility and HR leaders to attract and retain top talent. By adjusting policies, adopting more digital solutions, and addressing compliance challenges, you can navigate the shifting paradigm, while effectively supporting the evolving needs of your employees.

5. Compliance & risk management

In 2024, global mobility is poised for substantial regulatory updates and shifts in employment law. As organizations prepare for these changes, a heightened focus on compliance and risk management is crucial.

Running and further expanding operations globally necessitates a deep understanding of local regulations, tax implications, social security considerations, and immigration matters. Global compliance becomes paramount as companies operate across diverse regions.

To ensure business continuity and support a global workforce, mobility teams must prioritize Duty of Care, promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and enhance the productivity and engagement of mobile talent. This approach directly aligns with organizational goals, especially in mitigating risks and retaining valuable talent.

What this trend means for global mobility and HR leaders

Global mobility leaders play a pivotal role in guiding informed decision-making on global risk management and compliance. Balancing business objectives with talent mobility practices requires a strategic consideration of Duty of Care in corporate relocations.

Navigating complex compliance landscapes requires collaboration with internal departments and external partners. Additionally, staying informed about geopolitical shifts and events such as presidential elections and developments in warzones and other impacted areas are crucial for effective risk management.

Aligning policies with organizational goals, upholding Duty of Care, leveraging internal and external expertise, and staying informed about global developments empower leaders to ensure compliant and resilient corporate relocations.

6. Environmental, social, & governance (ESG)

ESG considerations continue to shape global mobility decisions and talent acquisition strategies. Human resources teams are seeking suppliers who have a well-defined ESG strategy and measurement and reporting processes. The intersection of environmental sustainability and DEI with mobility programs presents the opportunity to showcase corporate values and enhance the employee value proposition (EVP).

Equitable global mobility policies can help talent from all backgrounds develop the skills they need to earn leadership positions — while broadening internal talent pools. Catering to women and minorities is a focus for global mobility teams looking to improve DEI performance.

Taking such steps help firms align with the expectations of their employees, customers, partners, and governments. Talent takes corporate sustainability into account when deciding whether or not to take a new job. Buyers place increased emphasis on sustainability. Partners expect reporting on sustainability performance. Governments have increasingly stringent reporting requirements in place. One thing is clear: Organizations can no longer afford to put off sustainability initiatives. 

In fact, $1.26 trillion in revenue losses are anticipated for suppliers by 2026 from environmental risks, according to the CDP Global Supply Chain Report. Plus, PwC found that 76% of consumers say they will stop buying from companies that treat the environment, employees, or their community poorly.

What this trend means for global mobility and HR leaders

Leaders must demonstrate a commitment to ESG within mobility programs by:

• Aligning mobility practices with corporate values to bolster the attraction and retention of top talent.
• Leveraging digital transformation and other innovations to reduce their program’s environmental footprint. 
• Addressing diversity gaps and offering equitable relocation assistance to foster inclusivity.

The mobility industry acknowledges the critical role of ESG in meeting stakeholder expectations. These considerations will increasingly dictate decisions and values within mobility practices in 2024.

Navigating new horizons: Set sail with Relocity

The trends shaping 2024 propel global mobility toward a future where technology, strategy, talent, skill, WFA, compliance, and sustainability converge in unprecedented ways. At Relocity, we stand committed to empowering leaders to navigate this new landscape effectively, while meeting key organizational objectives.

Through cutting-edge technology, we help you digitally transform your program and guide your team as you review policies, fill skill shortages, manage compliance, and mitigate risk. We also walk your talent through new ways of working and relocating — with a focus on sustainability.

We look forward to serving you this year and beyond to drive your strategic talent initiatives forward and connect your people to new communities across the globe. Stay tuned for our next Moving Forward with Relocity roundtable, slated to resume in March 2024.

Book a demo with Relocity today to get the technology and insights you need to advance your mobility program.

About the author:

William Taylor is the SVP of Partnerships at Relocity, a technology company that is revolutionizing destination services and enhancing the employee experience. He has over 20 years of experience in Global Mobility, having held leadership roles on both the corporate and supplier side of the Industry. 

Prior to joining Relocity, William was Head of Global Mobility at Adobe. He is a licensed immigration attorney and practiced law at a distinguished, global immigration firm.

William served as President, Bay Area Mobility Management (BAMM) from 2016-2017, and served on the BAMM Board for eight years. He is a well-recognized leader in the Global Mobility industry and a frequent speaker at industry events, including Worldwide ERC, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Atlas Forum, Forum for Expatriate Management, Bay Area Mobility Management, HR West (NCHRA), and many regional Global Mobility organizations. William has been recognized for his contributions to the industry with a Meritorious Service Award from the Worldwide ERC. You can connect with William Taylor on LinkedIn or via email.

William Taylor

SVP of Partnerships

William Taylor is the SVP of Partnerships at Relocity.