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Leading through positive reinforcementToday’s “Ask the Expert” column features Ellie Sullivan, SVP, Advisory Services with Weichert Workforce Mobility.

Q: With so much focus on the “war for talent,” are today’s companies starting to look at relocation as a strategic tool to help them achieve their talent management goals?

A: Yes, there is growing recognition that mobility plays a critical role in expanding leadership capacity, filling critical skills gaps and engaging and retaining key talent. Although the mobile workforce typically constitutes only 1 – 2 percent of a company’s global workforce, this group represents a disproportionately high percentage of executive leaders, brand evangelists, market-makers, technical SMEs, senior project managers and HIPOs—the people you’re counting on to create the future of your business. This makes it incumbent upon mobility professionals and business leaders to leverage their mobile talent to its full potential.

What we find, however, is that most companies struggle with becoming more strategic and, specifically, viewing their mobile workforce through a strategic lens. At Weichert, we understand that part of our responsibility to our clients is rising to the challenge and providing them with innovative tools to gain that strategic insight.

To that end, we’ve introduced what we call Optimization Labs®— intensive, day-long sessions in which our Advisory team meets with key stakeholders from the company to peel back the layers on their relocation program, analyze pain points and challenges and help them visualize the program’s ideal “future state.” We then create a strategic road map for achieving that future state.

Through our Optimization Labs, we have uncovered some compelling results for our clients while helping them build programs that bring greater value, drive sustained cost savings and advance over-arching talent development goals and growth targets.

Another tool we’ve developed is our “Workforce Mobility Maturity Spectrum.” This model is used to facilitate conversations about how to move workforce mobility from tactical and reactive to more strategic and impactful.

Finally, when you talk about mobile talent today, you’re talking about a much broader demographic base and diverse mobile segments (i.e., interns to strategic leaders) taking on moves that are very different from what would be considered “traditional” long-term relocations or assignments. Adding to the complexity is the fact that relocation requires a lot of hand-offs, from the household goods movers to the immigration professionals to the compensation managers. One of the ways we’ve optimized the process is by streamlining the supply chain through insourcing of many of the critical workforce mobility functions. For example, over the past year, we’ve founded Weichert Mobility Tax Services, an independent tax affiliate focused solely on relocation tax and expatriate assignment tax, and Weichert Real Estate Support Services, which offers integrated title and closing solutions.

This vertical alignment of the supply chain reduces the number of touchpoints for both the client and the mobile employee and lowers overall program costs. More importantly, it allows corporate stakeholders to focus less on the tactical aspects of their programs and more on the strategy.

Beyond the focus on workforce mobility driving strategy, all our research suggests that a more customized experience and policy will support the mobile workforce of the future. And it’s going to require a great deal more agility on the part of relocation providers. We’re all going to have to be a lot more nimble to keep up with the velocity of business and stay competitive.

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