Adapting Mobility to a Changing Workforce Profile

A summary from the Melbourne Chapter Meeting on 16th August, 2016

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Aug 22, 2016
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One of the most significant challenges that companies will face over the next decade is people management. Managing a multi-generational workforce, temporary and part-time workers, and a growing cultural diversity will challenge businesses globally to tackle leadership issues and adapt to this new workforce profile in order to attract, engage and retain their talent in today's competitive marketplace.

Our wonderful panel (see below) from academia and industry, along with our audience of Global Mobility professionals explored how businesses are adapting global mobility programs to this changing workforce profile.


Panelists: Professor Robert Wood, Director, Centre for Ethical Leadership Kevin Thorley, Human Resources Manager, AusNet Services Ulrike Fisher, Senior Manager, Global Mobility & Policy, CSL Deanna Spowart, Growth Talent Manager, Telstra

Whether you are dealing with Millennials or Dual Career families, everyone is pushing for flexibility in the workplace. Accordingly, recent research indicates that flexible workers are as committed to their work and their careers as those working "full time" and are also good "corporate citizens". While flexible working concepts are acceptable in Australia, they do not sit so well in other places like the USA or China. Flexibility and adaptivity in individuals are important characteristics moving forward.

Different members of the panel explored the topic as it related to their organisation, which then brought forth much discussion. Below are some notes relating to the discussion which was fast and fluid:

Telstra, as a global technology company (transforming itself from Australia's largest telecommunication company), require multiple talent pools of diverse, entrepreneurial leaders and specialists; people that can operate in the large corporate structure and yet others that have the mindset of a "startup" depending on their focus and the technology they are developing or marketing; attracting global talent when the company is still developing it's global brand. Deanna discussed aspects of her role, as well as her personal experiences as an expat in different locations and the challenges that these locations presented, but also how her experiences have been valuable to her current role. People that are "adaptable" are more valuable in culturally diverse situations.

Kevin Thorley has been involved in many large scale projects with defined parameters in terms of start and finish of project, including providing workforce planning on Chevron's Gorgon Gas Project which was a $78B project with 25,000+ employees. Mobilising talent on this scale, the diversity in age (millennials and "empty-nesters"), culture, remoteness of sites, impact of fifo and so on. The audience listened intently as the focus of these sorts of projects is less about developing talent to stay with the firm, and more about having the right people there at the right time (from all over the world) to get the job done. Everyone is aware that they are engaged for a specific period of time under specific conditions. It is a flexible industry where different rosters are available to suit the different life stages of the employees engaged on the project.

Ulrike Fisher gave us CSL’s perspective on talent, diversity and gender. Flexible working arrangements linked to corporate values. Partnering with educational institutions to attract more women to Science and Engineering to meet their targets for a diverse, balanced employee cohort. As a company with offices in several international locations they are able to meet the needs of their workforce seeking international assignments.

PwC’s recent report on gender diversity and international mobility mentions that 82% of female millennials identify an employer’s policy on diversity, equality and workforce inclusion as important when deciding whether or not to work for an organisation. The same report also mentions that 71% of female millennials want to work outside their home country during their career. CSL supports its employees who want to work abroad during their career. An inclusive global mobility programme is an essential strategy to supporting the advancement, engagement and development of talent.

Professor Bob Wood, who's team provided the research for the PwC report mentioned above, also stated that while it is very important to have had an international assignment during your career in order to be considered for leadership roles, the reality was that men were 4 times more likely to be offered an international posting than an equally qualified woman in the same organisation. Without changing this bias things are not going to improve too quickly.

Additionally, a changing worker profile (part-time workers & multi-generational), will place greater pressure on companies to initiate and implement creative solutions to educate, integrate and retain a rapidly changing and diverse working population. Professor Wood shared with us some of CEL's research and insights into diversity, flexibility, virtual work and cross-cultural teams. Diversity of experience is more and more important, terms like"flexible expert" vs "rigid expert" were discussed.

Want to know more about the Melbourne Chapter Meeting or receive updates on future events? Please email Aysegul Kayahan

Go to the profile of Aysegul Kayahan

Aysegul Kayahan

Director, Relocation Specialists

Aysegul Kayahan, managing director of Relocation Specialists in Queensland and Victoria has been in the global mobility industry since 1993. Aysegul started the Forum for Expatriate Management community in Australia in early 2012, with chapters in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. From February 2015 to January 2017, Aysegul was appointed to the role of global chair of Chapter Leads for the Forum for Expatriate Management.

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