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6 Steps to Future-Proof Your Talent Mobility

How can organisations build and nurture a sustainable and globally-capable workforce for the future? Employers need to look no further than tomorrow’s leaders – the so-called ‘millennials’.

Much research has been carried out into millennials in the workplace, from which it has become clear that as a cohort, their professional needs, aspirations and expectations differ vastly from older generations.

For example, according to one survey, as many as 71% of millennials want and expect overseas opportunities as part of their career development.

This overwhelming appetite for international exposure raises a key question for employers – is your global mobility programme designed to meet the future talent needs of your organisation?

Millennials & A New Approach to Mobility 

Traditionally, international assignments were the preserve of experienced, executive-level employees, deployed overseas long-term with handsome reward packages designed to make the move attractive.

The picture today couldn’t be more different.

We are seeing a shift in the profile of employees being deployed overseas in response to both the changing needs of global organisations and the emerging expectations of millennial workers.

Research shows that in general, millennials are:

  • willing to relocate for a role – including to emerging markets
  • motivated by longer-term career goals, rather than short-term financial reward
  • used to travelling, more so than previous generations
  • exposed to international cultures through technology, communication and information sharing
  • expectant of career progression as a result of overseas assignment

Generous reward packages on longer term assignments may have been the norm in past times, but millennials are actively seeking international experience early in their career to advance and develop their professional prospects. They expect such opportunities as part of their professional development. Millennial mobility should be structured to satisfy this.

Soon to be the largest segment of the workforce, ignoring the expectations and interests of millennials in globally-mobile career paths will impact employers’ ability to attract and retain this cohort.

Six Steps to Future-Proof your Mobility Programme

What steps can employers take now to adapt global mobility strategies for future needs, while ensuring alignment with organisational objectives?

1. Attracting talent

With shortages in talent a continuing challenge for organisations, employers can leverage global mobility programmes to attract and recruit desired talent.

Overseas opportunities (job swaps, rotations, short-term assignments), interlinked with formal career progression and development, can differentiate in the talent market and form an intrisic part of a competitive and attractive employee package.

2. Developing talent

Employers are increasingly understanding the strategic importance of aligning global mobility with talent development.

Effective professional and career development programmes should identify how overseas experience impacts internal progression.

Similarly, any succession planning strategy should specify how international exposure forms part of leadership development.

3. Types of mobility

Organisations are shifting preference away from long term moves and relocations in favour of deploying more employees abroad on shorter term assignments.

The key is to develop a mobility programme that primarily meet your commercial needs while also satisfying the expectations and development needs of your employees. This may well result in a range of mobility types to meet different needs.

Operating diverse mobility portfolios does create compliance risks. A robust and compliant internal immigration/mobility infrastructure, including automation, will help to mitigate risk of non-compliance with your immigration duties.

4. Proactive opportunities

Research suggests millennials are unlikely to wait around for international opportunities if they are not forthcoming.

Transparency and communication are crucial. Your organisation may offer a range of overseas assignments – but are employees aware? Ensure you operate a clear and open global mobility programme, with clarity of how mobility aligns to talent development and career progression, and how employees can participate (selection criteria, application process etc).

5. Flexibility

Another quirk among millennials is the expectation of a relatively high degree of flexibility toward individual needs. And as the workforce becomes more diverse, it is becoming clear that one size will not fit all. Personalised, personal, individual. Off-the-shelf packages may no longer appeal or may require adaptation to meet individual mobility needs.

It is for employers to gauge how far they can accommodate and nurture flexibility within mobility programmes, in accordance with anti-discrimination obligations, and how this fits with commercial objectives.

6. Level of mobility support

Surveys also indicate that millennials expect a considerable degree of support throughout the assignment process. They tend to expect a faster pace of activity, instant response, and generally for things to move quickly.

While this level of engagement may appear more resource-intensive than with previous generations, there are benefits in respect of enhanced control over areas of mobility risk including immigration compliance.


Global mobility programmes are fast becoming impactful in helping organisations to attract, retain, develop and engage talent, on a global scale. By developing mobility programmes that target millennials, mobility can continue to play a significant role in supporting the organisation’s business and talent objectives.

We are experienced in advising organisations with globally-mobile workforces on business immigration and global mobility strategy. For further information, or if you have a specific query on global mobility, please get in touch.


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