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HR’s Next Stage: Tech to Shape Global Workforce Trends by Brynne Herbert Featured in

This piece was originally features in


Having the right employees in the right places will be increasingly crucial as global economies expand, but companies have been slow to tap technology to help them manage their global workforces.

In 2016, this will begin to shift in a big way. We are living in the golden age of HR technology, where cloud platforms enable access to centralized information, collaboration with global stakeholders, automation of administrative tasks and links between different systems like never before. Meanwhile, companies are facing tight competition in recruiting and keep the best global talent, especially in technology and science fields.

It is no surprise then that 4 in 10 companies plan to deploy technology in the next year to improve their ability to move talent around the globe, indicates a recent survey of 80 leading companies conducted by RES Forum along with MOVE Guides.

The adoption of technology to reduce the costs and improve the performance of human resource functions is long overdue. Many of these tasks are so fragmented among so many departments and contacts that companies are unable to accurately measure return on investment.

The spread of SaaS (software as a service) is changing that and talent mobility, a still highly manual $150 billion industry, is ripe for change.

“A full 25% of survey respondents said that talent mobility was the most time-consuming and complex of all of their HR functions. It’s easy to see why. One international move of an employee and his or her family can involve multiple departments outside of HR and payments to numerous vendors for everything from packing to transportation.”

To date, companies have accepted subpar solutions. None of the survey respondents said their talent mobility programs exceeded their expectations and only 18% said their talent mobility programs even met their expectations.

Perhaps even more frightening for companies looking to grow globally, only 10% of respondents said their talent mobility programs were effective in building a leadership pipeline and only 7% were effective at talent retention.

Companies know they have work to do. Approximately 55% of respondents said it is important to develop a leadership pipeline by providing high potential staff with continuous learning through long or short term moves to other offices or regions. Yet only 8% said they were highly effective at managing that objective.

Matching the right talent with the right career opportunities is about timing, location and cost. However, fewer than 6% of survey respondents said they were highly effective at managing the process of developing appropriate career opportunities abroad for their employees. 

Start With Technology

So how do companies get to where they need to go from where they are? Adding technology is a good start. Of those survey respondents who were already using technology in their talent mobility programs:

  • 76% said they were much more able to manage compliance risks.
  • 69% said they had a much better handle on cost controls.
  • 76% agreed that administrative tasks had been greatly reduced through cloud platforms. While the survey respondents addressed talent mobility specifically, cloud technology can, and will, spread to many parts of many companies.

Using cloud technology, employees can access files and data from anywhere, making their physical presence in an office less critical. Global teams can collaborate on projects as integrated systems share information. For today’s global workforce, this means easier program management and better collaboration.

Know Your Workforce

Today’s workforce will increasingly demand that their employers have state-of-the-art HR and leadership development programs. Millennials, which now make up a majority of the workforce, are highly tech-savvy. They’re also highly mobile. They see international work experience as something valuable and achievable. PwC research indicates that 7 in 10 millennials want to work internationally at some point in their careers. 

As millennial employees grow more accustomed to greater transparency and working in global and virtual environments, 21st century organizations will have to meet their expectations to retain top talent and to grow that talent into leadership roles.

Overall, the survey underscored that companies have a long way to go in creating an effective and technology-enabled talent mobility strategy and program. Fundamental changes are needed. Nine in 10 survey respondents said technology would help them meet their business and talent mobility objectives.

The successful 21st century organization will be one that acts on that insight. 

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