Deploying executives on foreign assignments is an emerging HR specialty—and one that many organizations consider outsourcing.
Global business leaders who want talent to cross borders bound only by the laws of supply and demand tend to oppose government policies that restrict immigration by wrapping foreign workers in red tape. Not surprisingly, HR professionals also find themselves in a bind, faced with sourcing talent globally and helping executives to manage internationally distributed resources. They are expected to help navigate the relocation of talent across the country or around the globe.
When one considers the volume and complexity of the tasks involved in managing global mobility, it is easy to see that sourcing some or all of this function is an attractive option. Table 1 provides a high-level snapshot of some of the tasks that constitute the global mobility function.
Generally there are three ways for an organization to approach delivering global mobility services (Table 2).
The outsourcing marketplace for global mobility services is segmented into three primary categories:
- Provide domestic and/or international relocation services;
- Some providers also perform expatriate administration services;
- Providers in this market segment include Cartus, UniGroup, Prudential Real Estate & Relocation, SIRVA, Primacy Relocation, and others.
Expatriate Tax Specialists
- Provide expatriate and foreign national tax compliance often including tax equalization policy;
- Provide administration for international assignee populations;
- Limited, if any, moving services;
- Providers in this market segment include the big four accounting firms, as well as numerous boutique accounting firms.
Global HR BPO Providers
- Typically offer fully managed global HR BPO services;
- May or may not offer global mobility services on a standalone basis;
- May provide global mobility services through in-house solutions or via established subcontractorrelationships;
- Providers include Accenture, ACS, ExcellerateHRO, Hewitt, IBM, and several others.
Though widely practiced, managing global mobility is still an emerging HR business discipline. While multinationals are most likely to build up in-house expertise, increased cost pressures are leading companies of all sizes and global business experience to examine the advantages of outsourcing some or all of these functions. One of the wisest courses of action is to tap outside expertise while amassing institutional knowledge and experience in-house. Global mobility is likely to become even more valued in the years ahead as companies become more cognizant of the value of sourcing and distributing talent where opportunities exist around the world.
Mark Lawson is TPI’s subject matter expert on the service provider landscape and cultivation of industry relationships integral to the global mobility function. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.