Read any research about the main concerns of today’s CEOs and you will see that “attracting and retaining high quality people” comes up often. Not surprising therefore that those CEOs are investing millions in their company’s employer brand. In the same way that a product brand summarizes all the emotional and rational reasons why you should want to buy that product, an employer brand is about the reasons why anyone should work for them.
It’s at the top of the corporate agenda – and people are increasingly talking about the role global mobility has to play in building that brand. We explain why this is important – and four companies who have known for some time.
Talent wants to travel
It has been known for some time that opportunities for travel are an attractive feature in a job – and this is particularly true for younger work generations. Talent managers are particularly keen to find future leaders at a young age. Young talent is harder to find since they are not on the professional radar until they get into their careers, by which time it may be too late and they have already joined a competitor.
It is the equivalent of spotting Lionel Messi as a 17-year-old and being able to keep him at Barcelona for his whole career. If a company can build a reputation as a global player, with a proven track record in exposing new hires to different parts of the world and helping them grow and develop internationally, that company is well placed to clinch the signatures of the brightest new talent.
Consistent company values around the world
It is generally accepted that company values are more important to employees than ever. There is an increasing sense that people want to work for a company that means something – whether this is a drive for innovation or carries a more altruistic dimension. Faceless, bland corporates don’t cut it anymore.
It is, therefore, important to spread company values – but they have to be consistent around the world. Global mobility has a key role to play in ensuring that the employer brand means the same thing from Rio to Riyadh. What better way than to send those ambassadors who live and breathe company values to different countries to spread the word?
The link between employee benefits and global mobility
It is probably abundantly clear to most global mobility departments that they play a crucial role in making the company attractive to new hires. But what about the other way round? Does the business see it that way?
It is encouraging to note that in a survey by Thomson Reuters amongst employee benefits professionals – i.e. those principally responsible for ensuring employees get the most attractive package possible to ensure better recruitment and retention – that global mobility is specifically mentioned as a key challenge.
True – it is low on the agenda: 9% saw “supporting global mobility” as a challenge, whereas 82% of respondents saw their biggest challenge as (understandably) “attracting and retaining talent”. However, the fact that global mobility is mentioned at all should confirm its importance.
So who’s doing it best?
The evidence suggests that global mobility is a great card for talent seekers to play. But which companies are most conscious of the link between global mobility and maintaining a strong employer brand?
Vodafone – diversity as a value
It was the company that sent the world’s first text message and is now the second largest telecoms company in the world. But its global credentials as an employer go deeper. Catalina Schveninger, Global Head of Employer Brand and Resourcing, describes its structure as “federated”, where cultural differences are encouraged rather than homogenized by a centralized head office.
“The way we work is we spot best practices, we pilot different things, and then we co-create to work together with markets. It gives us an opportunity to really look at things critically from a global perspective.” It also tells future employees that this is a company that takes global mobility seriously.
HSBC – when marketing and HR align
Walk through most international airports and you will see, either in the departure lounges, the walkways or the baggage carousel, something about HSBC’s multinational, multi-cultural business. It describes itself as the banking group that is committed to “connecting the world” with images of people, cultures, landscapes and business scenarios in different countries, all overlaid across a globally recognized logo.
It may just be a campaign, but the inference is clear. A career with HSBC is a global one and its international management program is well known as a successful, formalized program to give employees of all levels the opportunity to travel.
Johnson & Johnson – integrating GM technology
It’s all very well attracting new hires with the promise of travel. But how do you know if such a strategy is working? What data do you need to encourage meaningful conversations between HR and global mobility, so both sides know that they have something to gain from each other? This is why Johnson & Johnson’s approach is interesting.
Research shows that a staggering 90% of European businesses do not use data to track the success of global assignments. By contrast, J&J was determined to take a data-driven approach. Through organizational realignment and by using technology such as dashboards, it now has visibility over the effects of global mobility on the company’s ability to recruit – and how the employer brand is supporting global mobility.
IKEA – a little less Swedish
The issue of the employer brand meeting global mobility is about more than executive assignments however. IKEA is interesting because few brands have quite such a pronounced national identity – which of course extends to its employer brand. If you work for IKEA, you are expected to espouse its uniquely Swedish attitudes and values.
So how does it recruit when the company extends into different cultures? It has to be handled thoughtfully, both from the customer and the employer brand perspective. Its recent move into India, for example, necessitated various changes to the formula – not least addressing the serving of traditional Swedish beef meatballs in a predominantly Hindu country. This kind of sensitivity and flexibility is extended into its recruitment policies – and is essential to an organization that sees the benefits of a truly global employer brand.
A win-win for GM and HR?
A high-profile and well-organized global mobility function will make any employer brand stronger and attract talent. Equally, a strong and clear employer brand will help global mobility programmes to be more successful because the right kind of people will be attracted to that brand, and will therefore be suited to make a success of the company’s global mobility programmes.
If the two functions can visualize the benefits, communicate clearly and align their priorities, there is a lot to be gained on both sides.