Human Capital Issues

International Mobility of Employees

What was earlier known as the 'Brain Drain' and had become a matter of concern for many countries has taken the shape of international mobility of employees. Of late, international mobility of employees has become the latest trend and one of the top HR issues of present, courtesy increasing globalization, widening horizon of operation of MNC's, attraction by the greener pastures at the other side, etc.

With the influx of globalization, with flow of technology and capital across geographic and political barriers to help creating new resources, the concept of distance became virtually non factor.
International mobility of highly skilled workers has increased significantly and far more complications and intricacies involved. International mobility of employees - there are the following two perspectives of looking at the prevalent scenario:

  • People moving across the globe freely for jobs.
    International mobility of employees is increasing. People tend to not to limit themselves to working in their home country. People going to work in other countries are known as expatriates. . The emerging rationale behind the trend is the quest for better work exposure in complex work environments than simple, homely environment that would have left them less competent to face future challenges. This is a paradigm shift from the motive which people attributed for migrating to foreign lands - that lack of sufficient opportunity to get employed suitably. The new trend is most commonly seen in the IT industry, international experiences and exposure are considered crucial in pharmaceuticals industry, scientific research, and the professions like sales and distribution for career development and progress.

    With the MNC's increasing their foothold in almost every country, they are also providing ample opportunities to talented and experienced employees from foreign locations to utilize their skills for the organisation. Employees are also willing to cover that extra mile for new, challenging and rewarding career opportunities and growth, better standards of life and greener pastures at the other side. An overseas opportunity by an employer is also taken as a sign of empowerment by organisation and a move upwards in the career.

  • The other side of the same coin is working with and for the cross-border clients.
    With the widespread and transnational operations of MNC's, changing work practices, increasing off shoring and outsourcing of work, the international mobility of employees is increasing at a rapid rate. The intricacies of international mobility involve being sent to the client locations in other countries and even remote locations, to work with the client itself. Moreover, to fill the positions with the right kind of person has become of supreme importance for the organisations, and they are willing to recruit expatriates and deploy the best person irrespective of his/her nationality to the place having the requirement. Refusing any such offer of the company can have its own consequences for the employee.

Another concept related to the international mobility of employees is "Body shops". Body shops is a term that refers to manpower supplier or recruitment outsourcing companies, especially in the IT sector, which deploy and cater to the requirements for skilled IT labourers of its clients placed across the globe. Body shops are contributing significantly to the tremendous growth of the international mobility of employees by recruiting employees for their clients to work in foreign countries.

Issues/ challenges involved:
Various factors like technological advancement, International mobility of employees has changed fundamentally and traditional nature of the concept. There are many issues and considerations involved for the organisation, the concerned employee and his/her family. For companies that do business globally, the need for broad, comprehensive HR programs that anticipate, and address, the myriad issues that come with having an internationally-dispersed workforce is absolutely crucial. It's essential that you have in place a competitive international mobility programme that is not only aligned with your business strategy but also facilitates the transactional aspects of international mobility.

The challenge for the Organisation: Talent Management
The main challenges for the organisation are:
  • Selecting the candidate keeping in mind the factors like cultural adaptability, communication factors, family background etc.
  • Performance management: Clearly defining the objectives of the assignment, the standards, measurement of performance etc.
  • Reward aspects: The compensation during the assignment including all the benefits and other privileges.
  • Immigration requirements and tax procedures for the employee should be arranged by the organisation.

The organisation should have policies and strategies for dealing with the requirements of international mobility of its employees aligned to its overall strategy and business objectives systematically.

The challenge for the family:
Another major concern is the immediate/ long term and direct/ indirect implications of the relocation of an employee on their family. Generally seen as the concern of the employer and the concerned employee, most neglected are the life partners or the families of the employee. The effect on the career of the partner or the families can become a hindrance for an employee in accepting the offer to relocate. Relocating the children and spouse in midst of their own education or careers, can harm the same. Bring new opportunities as well as challenges and problems for the family.

The challenge for the individual:
Before accepting or taking up any such assignment, the concerned employee should seriously consider its impact on career development, impact on the immediate family, adjusting to the new environment etc.

A trade-off between the costs and benefits for the employee who is supposed to relocate is nearly impossible (qualitative factors). But comparing the costs and benefits from the side of the organisation is the most logical and the feasible step. Keeping in mind all the developments taking place towards globalization, international mobility of employees will increase with time.