Organisations have become better at planning their talent needs strategically rather than responding tactically: Mario Ferraro

There has been an increase in short-term assignments and permanent transfers, as well as developmental assignments, as organisations have become better at planning their talent needs strategically rather than responding tactically, said Mario Ferraro, regional leader-global mobility practice for Asia, Middle East, Africa and Turkey at New York-headquartered human resources consulting firm Mercer. In an interview to ET’s Rica Bhattacharyya, Ferraro and Padma Ramanathan, global mobility practice leader, Mercer India, talked about the changing nature of mobility and the key drivers. Edited excerpts:

Q1. What are the changes in policies and processes that have enabled Asian organisations to increasingly send their employees overseas?

Ferraro: Although some Asian organisations adopt traditional approaches, there are many who are coming up with their own policies and processes. Many Asian organisations still work with a limited number of policies, relatively fewer assignees, less segmentation and typically most of the assignees are from headquarters. Globally, and in APAC, the highest observed and expected increase in mobility was reported in the number of short-term assignments (57.9%), as per Mercer’s Worldwide International Assignment Policies and Practices Survey. In India too, more than half of the companies (58%) surveyed reported an expected increase in short-term assignments. In India, we notice that companies are moving towards becoming more diverse in assignment types in order to meet evolving business needs as well as global workforce expectations.

Q2. What is driving this mobility in organisations?

Ramanathan: Earlier mobility was driven by business needs. Now, to some extent, it has also become a career lever. With a younger lot of professionals in organisations it is a key tool to attract talent. International assignments are a key aspect to the agenda. In India also we are seeing a lot of young assignees and professionals being given opportunities for international exposure, which could be a short stint or longer. Mobility is being driven by a very career specific need and talent retention and attraction perspective.

Q3. What are the main reasons for mobility assignment failures in organisations?

Ferraro: It would be family and dual career considerations, poor performance of the assignee, adaptation to the host country, among other factors. Dual career is one of the most intractable challenges of mobility. Mercer’s research shows that in APAC, dual career/family related issues is the top obstacle indicated to employee mobility, while being ranked second in India. In India, where equity considerations are always of concern, package attractiveness is also an obstacle to mobility. Poor job performance is the top cause for assignment failure in APAC and India. However, while poor candidate selection (36%) follows as the second main cause among APAC overall, in India difficulty in adjusting to the host country is reported as the second leading cause of failure. Our recent conversations with our clients are centred around enabling them with more structured assessment and cultural integration processes and practices into the assignment programmes.


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