Our recent event, co-hosted with Mercer at their office on the bank of the River Thames, strategically located next door to the Tower of London and the infamous Traitors Gate, helps lend some historical context to the evolving geopolitical issues of many countries around the world and the precarious situations international employees may find themselves in, often without warning.

The task of Global Mobility within each organisation is to support the international movement of human resources to fulfil business objectives whilst navigating political minefields and frequently changing legislative requirements of each country.


Mercer People Risk Report 2024 key insights

With over half the world population going to the polls this year with a potential impact on democracy and more than one hundred active armed conflicts in progress globally, the very timely release of the Mercer People Risk Report 2024 provided some insightful data and analysis of the geopolitical issues that impact countries, businesses and people shared by Kate Fitzpatrick, Global Mobility Practice Leader UK&I.

Key themes emerging included:

  1. Tech change and disruption
  2. Talent and leadership
  3. Health, wellbeing, and safety
  4. Governance, compliance, and financial stability
  5. Environment, sustainability, and protection

For further insights and to review the survey in detail, click here


Crown Worldwide’s global objectives update

Crown Worldwide Group ESG Director Joy Lam shared an overview of Crown Worldwide’s global objectives and achievements, highlighting the commitment to sustainable business practices and the UKI division’s achievement of the Ecovardis Gold rating as a blueprint for other locations across the group. You can read the full sustainability report here.

Carbon impact on global mobility programmes

A poll of the attendees showed that only one-third were being asked by their businesses for information regarding the carbon impact of their global mobility program. In contrast, the remaining attendees needed more visibility into the business requirements or objectives related to the international relocation of their employees.

Further, 60% of attendees would like to be able to provide information for pre-assignment decision-making as well as post-relocation data trends and reporting. (Attendees were all UK-based global mobility representatives responsible for the international mobility of all new and existing employees globally.)

Fiscal policies and inflation impact

The session hosted by Hilary Winn, Investment Director at Mercer, drawing on Mercer’s latest research insights on economic, geopolitical, and talent trends, offered a global perspective of fiscal policies and their broader effect on inflation, interest rates and investment and pension funds. Taking a complex subject and bringing this to life, highlighting the ultimate impact these policies may have on individual circumstances, particularly for long expatriate employees, was a thought-provoking session.

Geopolitical impact

Subsequent discussions highlighted the hesitation or discomfort of employees to relocate, waiting for events like elections to be completed before deciding whether to move to specific locations. Geopolitical issues have increased interest in remote working, with remote working policies still a hot topic, a decrease in recruiting candidates, an overall slowdown for many businesses, and uncertainty with frequent immigration and regulatory changes. Further, a significant people risk is the duty of care for the safety of employees, and the ability to respond quickly to evacuate employees and their families from an unsafe location is essential.

Financial wellbeing

Financially, all attendees agreed that while relocation policies provide for some tax guidance for internationally relocating employees as well as for US Domestic relocations here, state taxes and legislation vary, not sufficient consideration may be explicitly offered regarding pensions and personal long-term investments and how these may be affected by an international assignment. The consensus was this should be reviewed to ensure a more holistic approach to financial wellbeing, including options such as payments instead of pensions, a checklist for consideration or a fact sheet to be included in the tax briefing, always balancing the duty of care from the organisation with ultimate employee responsibility.

Human centricity and the employee experience

This discussion segued nicely into the next topic, the human centricity and employee experience of international relocation, hosted by Caitlin Pyett, Global Consulting Practice Lead at Crown World Mobility.

Key to this discussion was the difference between business-critical or employee-led relocations, providing wildly varying levels of support and the variances in requirements and expectations of the growing multi-generational employees prevalent today. Where wellness initiatives are provided as an organisational benefit, this is not directly included in any relocation support. While many companies offer intercultural training as an option, there is minimal uptake, which is particularly relevant where there is no language barrier or the employee is an experienced expat.

Employee experience relies directly on feedback on services and support provided by their organisation and the relocation services partner. To support more flexibility for the relocating employee and their family, some form of core-flex offering is in place within the parameters of the overall policy and more companies mentioned the value of repatriation support, particularly as a retention strategy.

Encompassing diversity and inclusion has resulted in most policies being reviewed for more inclusive and genderless wording, making policies more readily available and publicising opportunities more widely to be more inclusive. Situations such as split families, single-sex couples, single parents, and extended parental care are all situations that continue to pose barriers to employees taking international roles. Global mobility’s role in supporting these circumstances within the legal frameworks of the destination location and business needs can be challenging. Still, more companies are willing to review each family more ad-hoc to ensure a more diverse expat population.

Overall it was an interesting afternoon with active participation and shared insights from all participants. While duty of care and employee experience are key components of an effective international mobility program, legislative compliance and security are critical to ensure no one finds themselves on the wrong side of the proverbial traitor gate in a foreign location.