Managing a mobile workforce – latest trends in global mobility

in Tax, 15.09.2014

This annual survey from KPMG Switzerland provides insight into how Swiss companies are managing their global workforce, how they deploy key personnel to develop their business in emerging markets, and how they ensure that the top talents of their companies are getting the international experience they need to become the leaders of tomorrow.

What are the key findings of the survey?

It is essential for Swiss MNCs to be able to second Swiss employees to emerging markets in order to establish operations or drive growth in those areas, however such secondments come at a high cost to the company. They represent a large investment in the company’s business in those locations, and a Swiss MNC generally has to offer quite a high level of incentives to its employees to relocate to an emerging market.  Risks to personal safety and hardship due to harsh climates, pollution, or difficult living conditions are typically compensated through cash incentives.

Whilst many companies are considering outsourcing and off-shoring of their assignment processes, few Swiss companies, other than the very large MNCs have outsourced or off-shored on a large scale. While off-shoring of assignment-processes can bring savings and increased quality and consistency of service in the long-run, it comes with a significant up-front investment and is generally only undertaken by companies which already have an established off-shore centre.

Companies continue to look at ways to cut costs from their global mobility programs. Since most companies have gone through significant cost-cutting exercises in recent years, further cost-reduction measures are on a fairly small scale, “tweaking” policies and making minor adjustments to assignment allowances and benefits. Some companies are also looking to cut costs by simplifying the administration of their assignment programs by, for example, paying cash allowances to assignees in lieu of reimbursing certain expenses such as home leave travel and housing and utility costs.

Although many employees are sent on assignment to meet an urgent business need, the need for greater integration between talent management and global mobility processes is evident. Better career planning, including candidate selection, assessment of assignment performance and post assignment planning are essential to ensure that employees are able to fully utilise the skills gained during an international assignment.


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