Navigating the increasing complexities of talent mobility

Talent mobility considerations and costs are escalating. Organisations need mobility that delivers business value while containing costs. To add to the complexity, many employees are now expecting flexibility and remote working. What does this all mean for talent mobility, expatriate management and international assignments in general? Leverage Mercer’s expertise, data and technology to help you navigate that complexity. 

41% of C-suite executives believe the fundamental shift in business requires a reset on work, the workforce, and the workplace, and 29% of executives want to grasp this opportunity to reimagine their international rotations.


The growing complexity of talent mobility

The pandemic has accelerated changes in global talent mobility trends and practices. In volatile times, companies are having to rethink their talent mobility strategies. 

One of the major considerations is balancing cost with the need for career development and organisational-needs-driven employee mobility. According to Mercer’s 2020 Worldwide International Assignment Policies and Practices survey, high costs remain among the main obstacles to talent relocation. 

Companies are looking for opportunities to replace traditional long-term assignments with alternative, less costly forms of talent mobility, including: 

At the same time, remote and hybrid working — initially forced by pandemic lockdown measures — are increasingly the lifestyle choices for many employees. They now expect to be able to work from anywhere, not just in the country, but in the world. The new expectations mean that mobility teams now need to manage globally distributed workforces, not just relocation processes. 

Understanding the cost of living in different locations is crucial for companies setting up compensation packages, and for employees concerned about their purchasing power abroad. 

Talent mobility is a complex subject that is driven by: 

  • Short- and long-term business goals and needs
  • Internal policies, technology and processes
  • International workforce upskilling and reskilling efforts, and
  • Career management considerations.

Mercer have the expertise, data, and technology solutions to manage that complexity. 

Talent mobility supports the business and the individual 

Strategic talent mobility should benefit the organisation and the individual. 

For the business:

  • Rightsizing and diversifying the international talent pool: Efficient mobility talent management goes hand in hand with decisions about international workforce resizing, reshaping and reskilling. It is as much about managing an international talent pool as about moving people from country to country
  • Fostering talent diversity: If gaining international experience is the best way to reach the most senior management positions, the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the expatriate workforce is undermining attempts to improve diversity
  • Ensuring the right leadership talent pipeline is in place
  • Addressing key skill shortages in critical markets
  • Protecting key talent, by deploying them tactically from stagnant markets to more active ones
  • And more generally, enabling the continued globalisation of functions and business activities

For the individual:

  • The right job: Not all positions are equal when it comes to boosting employees’ careers. The types of positions that are real career accelerators depend on the company and industry sector. Global mobility plays a role by allowing high-potential employees to access these jobs globally
  • The right skills: What skills does the employee need to accelerate their career? Is an international assignment (physical or virtual) the best way to acquire those skills? 
  • The right network: Proximity to top management, the opportunity to exchange and learn from the company’s experts, and more generally, the ability to network with those who can be qualified as the 'influencers' within the company is a differentiator. The location of employees (at HQ, in a major regional hub or on the contrary in a small, remote operation) impacts their ability to build an efficient network

For deeper insights into strategic talent mobility.

Explore practical recommendations for creating successful alignment between global mobility and your overall talent management strategy.
Visit Mercer Mobility Exchange

Designing a talent mobility strategy that works for you

To simplify complexity, design is key. 

Using the right data and insights from experience and purpose-built technology, Mercer has helped 4,800 international mobility clients to design rewards packages for 400,000 mobile employees worldwide. 

We can support you in areas such as: 

  • Strategy and policy design
  • Compensation and allowances
  • Assignee experience
  • Policy benchmarking
  • Custom advisory solutions.

The right data for talent mobility

Designing efficient and transparent compensation packages for your internationally distributed global workforce is increasingly challenging. The highly diversified assignment types and flexible working arrangements are complicating elements, as is your employee value proposition, which can be a decisive factor in winning or losing the international battle for skilled talent.

How to ensure you compensate your international employees fairly, efficiently, and consistently?

To help you make informed decisions, our market leading data solutions cover considerations including: 



The expert advice you need for talent mobility

Three main factors compel today’s companies to review their international assignment policies:
  1. New organisational structures focusing on customer needs and lower costs
  2. The different pace of business dynamics around the world
  3. Regional integration and the search for expatriate candidates globally.
Mercer’s advisory services will help you manage your expatriate and domestic relocation assignments successfully in a highly competitive and cost-conscious business environment.

International employee mobility advisory services

  • Mobility strategy and talent management  

    The greatest challenges in global mobility are in talent management. Mercer can help you bring together mobility and talent management.
  • Mobility policy design and update

    Behind every successful global mobility programme is a well-thought-out policy that addresses business objectives, assignee expectations and market opportunities. The best policies read like a roadmap, connecting objectives with actions and actions with outcomes. They integrate best practices into an organisation’s overall culture to keep programmes competitive and market responsive, linking mobility with talent management and reward strategies.
  • Market benchmark your mobility policy

    Can you prove that your strategy for rewarding and managing expatriates is working? Are your policies fair compared to what your competitors are doing? Can you document what you need to get support from other decision makers?
  • Mobility policy programme implementation and communication 

    Whether creating entirely new programmes or building on existing ones, identifying potential challenges and impacts of the changes on the existing expatriate population is critical to achieving a smooth transition. 

    Three critical areas — alignment, decision making and implementation — need to be considered.

  • Mobility programme process review

    Given the tremendous cost of expatriates, companies that do not proactively review the effectiveness of their international assignment programmes – on a regular basis – run the risk of poorly executed policies, disenchanted and unproductive expatriates, and negative impact on the bottom line.
  • Advice for companies new to mobility

    Deciding on the types of mobility policies to implement, as well as how to communicate and administer them has become a major challenge for companies going global. The first expat packages and terms are typically negotiated individually at HQ, but when programmes gain in scope and size, the need for a more structured approach often emerges in response to varying locations and task requirements.
  • Fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) 

    Moving talent between jobs and between geographies plays a key role in fostering diversity, equity and inclusion, and HR teams should be at the forefront of developing a diverse workforce.

Domestic employee mobility advisory services

Benchmarking domestic relocation programmes

To help our clients optimise their domestic relocation programmes, we are able to draw on Mercer’s vast resources to offer both policy expertise and comprehensive data solutions. Our solutions let you ensure cost-effective and competitive policies are in place and calculate the right incentives when transferring employees domestically.

Design and update domestic relocation policy

Establishing appropriate and cost-effective domestic relocation policies for your organisation can be a complex undertaking. Through extensive research and client work, we know that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to implementing the right policies.

Purpose-built talent mobility technology solutions 

Our comprehensive suite of cloud-based mobility software solutions provides the benefits of digitalisation and accessibility for all mobility teams and their global workforces – whatever the age, size, and complexity of your talent mobility programmes, whatever your budget. 

Find the right digital tools to manage the challenges of daily work – from compliance and cost tracking to optimising workflows and streamlining firm-wide communication.

Mercer’s talent mobility technology solutions

Mercer has developed a solution to simplify talent relocation for domestic and  international assignments. MMP is a technology platform, built in collaboration with ServiceNow®, that helps manage complex mobility programmes by bringing all aspects of talent mobility in one place.

The platform provides an interactive, configurable, real-time data and content experience while simplifying workflows, lowering costs, reducing risks, and tracking the return on investment. Combined with our full suite of consulting services, MMP makes it easier to get the unparalleled support you need in your mobility journey.

Plan and budget efficiently with calculators and cost projection tools, integrating robust international compensation data.

Manage programmes with ease with automated tasks, integrated reporting, HRIS and vendor integrations and more functionalities delivered by our mobility management system.

Help your international assignees prepare for living and working overseas and set them up for success with cultural training tools and dedicated resources.

Related insights



    Contact us

    Contact a specialist to discuss Mercer’s suite of data, advisory, and technology solutions dedicated to talent mobility. 
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