Driving Value Through Strategic Mobility

A summary from the Sydney Chapter Meeting on 16th February, 2017

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Feb 27, 2017
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The Sydney chapter steering committee wanted to give the community an opportunity to tackle a difficult topic via a roundtable type workshop. Global mobility professionals need to be strategic in the way they position their role; mobility programs can add value to business outcomes rather than being perceived as a cost that needs to be born.

While the role has a strong transactional element, in the areas of talent development and risk management mobility programs can help develop the talent pool, help the hiring process become more efficient, keep tabs on business travellers (if well informed and armed with appropriate technology) and prevent their organisations from being fined by immigration and tax authorities.

With the assistance of our hosts EY and committee members; a series of roundtable discussions on the following ensued:

  • How talent and mobility can work together to achieve business outcomes?
  • How can business traveller tracking be used to assist with strategic business Decisions?
  • How confident are you with your immigration governance framework?
  • Are flexible policies the answer to a successful mobility program?

Each roundtable was run by a subject matter expert to help frame the context of the discussion. The following are some take-aways from these discussions.

Table 1 - Are flexible policies the answer to a successful mobility program?

  • Policy reviews seems to currently be a hot topic with most organisations.
  • Majority of organisations are looking to move towards a more flexible policy.
  • Policies working well are ones that offer a bank of core provisions driven by risk (immigration and tax compliance) with additional support driven by career level and family composition.
  • Although flexible policies are driven by the business needs, risk is becoming too flexible and difficult to manage.
  • Provisions versus Lump Sum still an issue. Tech savvy employees not requiring "traditional" destination service support but wanting a cash lump sum.
  • Conversely, a number of the financial institutions are going in the opposite direction with strict policy with no exceptions: take it or leave it position.

Table 2 - How talent and mobility can work together to achieve business outcomes?

  • Broad alignment amongst the group that there is a trend towards Talent & Mobility working closer together and beginning to align strategies
  • Recognition that the extent of collaboration / alignment is dictated by the specific needs of the organisation and the scale of the mobility program (e.g. in organisations with limited mobility needs and programs there is less alignment and mobility is seen as less of a ‘strategic lever’)
  • Consistent views that mobility and assignments need to be considered in the broader employee lifecycle and talent management framework
  • Repatriation is seen as a major challenge for both mobility & talent teams and the area most in need of collaboration between functions
  • The reporting line of the mobility function seems to dictate the degree of alignment / strategic positioning of the function (e.g. when mobility embedded in HR / Talent function it receives greater strategic prominence, when embedded in the compensation / reward team it is largely seen as an overhead and transactional function
  • Opportunity for talent function to better understand the skills, experiences and capabilities gained on assignment and leverage these post repatriation
  • Different skills are required in the mobility function if it is to be seen as a strategic talent lever (e.g. more advisory than compliance focused)

Table 3 - How can business traveller tracking be used to assist with strategic business decisions?

  • Talk of reduction/stagnation in LTA’s and more business travel
  • Still challenges with who owns business travel within the organisation
  • Discussed how different companies look to enforce individuals booking travel and going through an immigration and tax assessment prior to travelling
  • Talked about how companies will start looking to use business travel data for more strategic reasons such as linkage to talent, better stakeholder engagement, data analytics etc
  • Talked about setting about a business travel framework with strategic vision in mind of how the data may be used in the long term
  • Although the initial program may be designed for compliance consideration should be given to the data you want to gather than will help with strategic business decisions
  • Business travel programs can gather data to assist with:
    • career development – skills developed as a result of travel
    • quick deployment of resources based on a better understanding of the citizenship and/or visas held
    • resource management - does the business need to look at local hires verses business travellers

Table 4 - How confident are you with your immigration governance framework?

  • Significant rise in immigration monitoring activities by the Australian Border Force (an agency of the immigration department) and the Fair Work Ombudsman.
  • Increase in number of businesses and their executives being issued with warnings, bans, penalties and sanctions for non-compliance with sponsorship obligations and the illegal worker provisions.
  • Government, including Prime Minister and Immigration Minister, taking a tough stance on immigration compliance.

Key questions asked:

    1. Are your executives aware that they can be held personally liable for the business failing to adhere to the sponsorship obligations and that criminal and civil penalties may apply?
    2. How confident are you that significant penalties will not be levied against you or your business for non-compliance with the law relating to sponsorship obligations
  • Cited example of company that breached sponsorship obligations regarding three subclass 457 visa holders and the Federal Court ordered the company director to pay a personal penalty of $86,000, to pay a penalty of $430,000, and to pay more than $83,000 in restitution to the workers.
  • Explored challenges with immigration compliance with the business traveller population.
  • Highlighted need for stronger immigration compliance by business unlike any time before.

Want to know more about the Sydney 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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