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MOVE Guides’ CEO, Brynne Herbert shares her insights on the hidden costs of moving talent abroad and how companies can leverage the power of technology to improve inefficiencies, reduce costs and compliance risks and offer a great employee experience. 

This article was originally posted on Medium.

Successful companies become masters at cutting and controlling costs, but they can’t cut or control what they can’t see. Every year, companies spend an estimated $150 billion moving employees to jobs in new countries or states.

Hardly any of them, I suggest, know how much they’re spending to relocate employees and exactly where the money is going. Much could be saved.

Consider this, the average international employee move will involve a dozen vendors, including shipping companies, travel companies, real estate firms and others.

All told, one move of an employee and their family may involve payments to 15 companies or people. From the perspective of a company moving the employee, the process will typically involve 10 people from a host of different departments, including finance, human resources and legal.

The still highly manual work of relocating employees is what some call a “last mile” in the world of business automation. These last mile processes are so fragmented, so far flung, so downright ugly, that no one has invested in bringing them all together.

It shows. Despite the billions spent on employee relocations every year, just 8% of companies say their global mobility programs are world class, PwC research shows. At the same time, nine of ten companies plan to grow their internationally mobile workforces in the next two years.

Companies cannot afford the downtime caused by an employee being distracted or dismayed by a torturous move.

One of our customers, an international management consulting firm with offices in more than 25 countries, sites research finding that employees spend 130 hours of work time organizing a move in which they’re given a lump sum payment. Losing that much time is a drain on company productivity.

Companies lose productivity in other ways, too. Does it really make sense for a human resource employee in San Francisco to research how a relocating employee opens a bank account in London, only to research the same question a few months later for an employee relocating to Singapore? Having such information at the ready saves time and money and reduces employee stress.

On average, we’ve found that our clients achieve a 33% increase in operational efficiency and 99% employee satisfaction.

Relocating talent by leveraging the power of technology will be ever more crucial in the future. Increasingly, the talent being relocated is Millennials. They expect technology to make their lives easier. Nine of ten Millennial workers expect to live and work abroad at some point, research shows. They want shipping estimates, and lots of them, and they want customer reviews of shippers, too. If they have questions, they want answers 24/7.

The successful 21st century organization will be increasingly global, mobile and filled with tech-savvy employees. Those companies who excel will move global talent at a moment’s notice and retain that talent once in place.

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