As businesses continue to expand rapidly into the world, global mobility has become an essential aspect of today’s workforce. Although adopting a global mobility strategy can seem daunting at first, the benefits of introducing a global mobility program into your business are plentiful.
Understanding global mobility and its significance are necessary to create an effective global mobility program. Read on to learn the benefits, strategies, and challenges of adopting global mobility for your business.
What Is Global Mobility?
Global mobility is the ability of a company and its workforce to move and operate around the world with efficiency. Global mobility can be a need for both employees and businesses, and there are unique benefits for each. It offers employees the opportunity to relocate and experience living in other countries, enabling them to grow both professionally and personally. Meanwhile, companies that embrace global mobility can expand into international markets, grow quicker, become more profitable, and even see an increase in employee acquisition and retention.
However, working with an international team also has certain challenges, so a thorough global mobility strategy is essential for employers. Dealing with immigration, taxes, benefits, and other compliance issues is much more complicated on a global scale. We’ll cover both the benefits and challenges of global mobility in greater detail throughout this article.
Benefits of Global Mobility in Business
As previously mentioned, global mobility has several benefits for the modern workforce. Here are just a few of the benefits.
Global Mobility Allows You to Tap into New Markets
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of global mobility is that it allows your business to tap into new markets abroad. Having a physical presence with local talent is a crucial step in creating an effective global expansion strategy. This can also give your business a competitive advantage by establishing your company as a leader before other competitors enter the market. Furthermore, having revenue streams coming from multiple countries provides greater stability and makes your business more resilient to uncertainty and change.
Global Mobility Promotes New Ideas and Perspectives
Having employees around the world gives your business a unique advantage in being able to understand and learn from new perspectives. Employees who relocate to new countries can also gain a better understanding of international markets, which can be a valuable asset for your business. Additionally, having remote teams can help you become a more diverse and inclusive company.
Global Mobility Gives You Access to the Best Talent
By embracing global mobility and enabling your team to work from anywhere, you can widen your talent pool significantly. As a result, you’re much more likely to secure the best people for the job, no matter where they’re based.
Global Mobility Encourages Professional Development
The freedom to travel the world opens the door to an abundance of new learning opportunities for employees. Global mobility empowers employees to seek new opportunities that can positively impact their professional and personal development. Furthermore, the flexibility to grow and learn new skills in their roles from anywhere in the world can also increase employee retention and job satisfaction.
Strategies to Build a Global Mobility Program
The plans you design when building a global mobility program determine whether your international venture will be successful. Here are a few strategies to consider when designing your global mobility program.
1. Build a Strategy Development Team
You’ll need to bring together an expert team to effectively design your global mobility policy. This development team should include all potential stakeholders, such as company executives, HR professionals, administrative leaders, and legal and compliance experts.
2. Identify the Program’s Goals
Once you have a strategy development team in place, hold a meeting to identify what specific goals you want the program to achieve. Start by identifying what you consider to be the program's primary goal. For example, is accessing global talent the most important goal? Are you expanding into a new market? Or are you more concerned with allowing current employees more freedom and flexibility? Use this big picture goal to guide the rest of your strategy.
3. Understand the Legal Complexities
Moving employees from one country to another is legally complex, as is hiring new recruits abroad. Understanding these legal implications is really important for mitigating risk and ensuring your global mobility policy is compliant with international laws. So, be sure to use internal or external expertise to navigate international laws before hiring or moving talent abroad.
If you’re hiring or moving talent to a country where you don’t already have a local entity (such as a foreign subsidiary), it can be highly useful to work with an Employer of Record (EOR) service to employ talent on your behalf. EOR providers, such as Omnipresent, can help you navigate employment laws, such as payroll and time off, across the globe with ease. EORs handle onboarding, payroll, benefits, and more in compliance with local requirements.
4. Look at Immigration Legislation
Immigration is an essential element to include in your global mobility policy. It’s important to research your destination countries’ work and residence requirements since they differ from country to country.
Work with your strategy development team to compile a list of all necessary work and residency permits for all countries your employees will work from. Next, decide how much of the immigration process your business will handle and what employees are responsible for handling themselves. Be sure to provide employees with detailed information on everything they need to know about the relocation process.
Alternatively, you may want to work with an external expert, such as our partner Jobbatical, to handle the immigration process on your behalf and save time.
5. Design a Compensation Structure
A compensation structure lets your employees know what to expect in terms of salary and benefits when relocating to a new country. This provides your team members with transparency and fairness, enhancing their overall employee experience. Factors to evaluate when creating a structure include exchange rates, cost of living differences, travel compensation, and pay rises. We’ve covered the salary benchmarking process in this article if you’d like to learn more.
Global Mobility Challenges & Solutions
Below are some challenges you may face with global mobility, as well as some global mobility solutions to help you overcome them.
Legal variations across countries and jurisdictions pose one of the biggest challenges to global mobility management. Every country has different laws concerning employment, immigration, and permanent establishment. Hence, you may experience more restrictions in some countries than in others.
You can deal with this issue by working closely with your legal team. Your representatives can coordinate with experts in immigration legislation and foreign tax. They can also offer counsel concerning home taxes when your employees are abroad.
Working with a global employment partner, like Omnipresent, can also help you navigate legal requirements across the globe.
Another challenge to consider as an employer regards global mobility tax, specifically relating to payroll. When hiring internationally or relocating an employee, it’s necessary to examine international payroll processing and payroll tax policies and rates.
Municipalities, states, and nations have different rates and payroll tax requirements that vary each fiscal year. Forgetting to include them in your business strategies can bring your global move to a stop. Again, working with a global employment partner like Omnipresent can help you navigate this compliantly.
Another challenge you may encounter concerns employee acclimatization. Moving to a new country presents many challenges, and it may take employees a while to adjust to living in a new country. These challenges can include things like not speaking the country’s native language, adjusting to new cultural norms, not knowing their way around, and being homesick for their family and friends.
To help with employee acclimatization, keep these challenges in mind when developing your global mobility program and include measures that specifically address them. For example, you might offer complimentary language lessons for employees moving to a different country. You can also connect employees with any contacts your business has in their new country to help acclimatize them to the country’s social norms and culture. Finally, you might consider adding a travel stipend for international employees to use whenever they want to take time off to visit their home country.
Global Mobility FAQs
Here are some additional FAQs regarding global mobility.
What Is Shadow Payroll and How Does it Affect Global Mobility?
Shadow payroll is the practice of calculating and reporting the appropriate tax liabilities for international employees to their respective host countries while still paying them from their home country’s payroll. Essentially, shadow payroll allows employers to stay compliant with tax obligations in both the employee’s host and home countries without having to run two payrolls. This is particularly relevant for employees who will only work in another country for a limited time and are subject to tax laws in their host and home countries. Shadow payroll is often utilized by multinational companies with employees who frequently travel to other countries for work as a way to stay compliant with tax and employment laws.
What Is a Global Mobility Consultant?
A Global Mobility Consultant works with companies and their employees to facilitate the success of their global mobility program. The consultant’s job is to ensure that employee relocations go as smoothly as possible. They communicate directly with employees and employers alike to address any issues and provide ongoing support. A Global Mobility Consultant could be an excellent asset to developing your company’s global mobility program and might work in-house or as an outsourced employee.
What Are Global Mobility Services?
This article covered some ways you can build a global mobility program in-house, but you could also work with a third-party company that provides global mobility services for you.
Companies that offer global mobility services specialize in helping other businesses achieve global mobility. For example, if your company was interested in expanding globally, a third-party’s global mobility services could help your business with things like ensuring immigration compliance, international tax and payroll compliance, risk mitigation, and more.