Are you crafting “millennial-friendly” mobility programmes?

It is absolutely imperative for organisations to customise corporate mobility programmes for Millennial employees, argues Craig Ryan, Managing Director, APAC, Oakwood Worldwide.

Corporate mobility policies are changing. We are seeing an increase in the number of assignments to Asia Pacific, an increase in short-term assignments and a rise in younger international assignees - the millennials.

While those aged 50-59 are currently the largest age group of assignees, the 2014 Brookfield Global Relocation Trends Survey found that the fastest growing age group within the mobility sector is the 30-39-year old, with an overall 33% share.  Moreover, as we enter into Q3 of 2015, we are expecting continued growth in the number of millennials embarking on their careers, with reports suggesting that by the year 2020, this generation will form the majority of the workforce (71%).    

As Baby Boomers start to retire, the millennial employee is maturing against today’s increasingly connected global marketplace. As this evolves, more complex mobility patterns will emerge across the region, both intra-regional and west to east. These changing mobility patterns are consolidating as:

  • There is greater demand for home-grown talent in Asia Pacific, with employers recognising the need for local talent to gain international experience in order to secure their future in the global marketplace;
  • There is an increase in regional roles in Asia Pacific businesses rather than those that are bound by national boundaries - a result of a relative shortage of experienced and skilled domestic talent at senior level, and also a result of the pressure on organisations to have a footprint in several countries within the Asia Pacific region to secure business success.

We are already seeing signs of how this is taking hold, with reports showing that assignee levels on the global mobility scene have increased by 25% over the past decade and are predicted to grow by a further 50%, as deduced from the PwC Talent Mobility 2020 And Beyond report.

Tailoring to and engaging with millennials

Much has been written about millennials and how they differ from previous generations.  Set against the spectre of an ageing population where the proportion of people of working age will decline sharply over the next few years, it is crucial for organisations to do more than just observe the transition to a new generation of employees.

Organisations need to tailor corporate mobility programmes to align with the next generation of employees and attract, recruit and retain millennial employees to ensure continued business success, adapting their global mobility programmes to suit younger executives at an earlier stage in their career. 

When appealing to the millennial generation, greater local support will be required to help them transition into their new environments – for many, this could be their first experience away from home. A personal service deployed through an experienced on the ground team is recommended to ensure the new employee can settle quickly into a foreign location.

In addition, housing is an especially important component as the serviced apartment is often the first experience for an assignee in a new location. Creating a favourable impression is key to the ongoing success of the assignment. Working with an experienced global housing provider who can guide organisations through the diverse landscape of corporate and serviced accommodations, is of benefit both to the employer and to the employee because it removes one of the key stresses of relocation so that the transferee can focus on the job.

What’s more, millennials have vastly different travel habits and expectations; they love gadgets and are tech savvy. According to an Accor report, millennials are devoted to technology in every aspect of their lives – one third of millennials use a smartphone and 20% use a tablet to book business travel. They expect information immediately; this includes making accommodation reservations.

With this in mind, organisations need to ensure that technology is part of their solution in order to engage with millennial employees by ensuring that global mobility managers have access to short-and long-term real-time accommodation options and, that the chosen serviced accommodation has adequate Wi-Fi .

In addition to this, in order to help integrate a millennial assignee, we recommend that organisations:

  • Incorporate a mentorship programme as part of their global mobility policy - millennial employers may want to build rapport with their teams and treat their staff well to gain their loyalty. Contemporary mentoring is not simply about transferring knowledge from one generation to the next. With millennials it is about sharing experiences and allowing the knowledge to flow both ways.
  • Recruit a mentor in each of the offices and encourage the assignee to provide feedback and educate through the mentorship programme.  Mentorship does not need to take place person-to-person. Consider engaging across multi-media platforms. 
  • Incentivise – this is the norm for the millennial generation who are faced with special offers and promotions on a daily basis.  They expect and will respond well to similar rewards and incentive schemes in the workplace.  Employers can work with local businesses to provide assignees with special offers on relocation such as local fitness centres, opticians, spas and restaurants etc.  
  • Increase internal support - organisations must also continue to provide guidance to millennial transferees on arrival in their new host country. There are several ways in which HR / mobility managers can support relocating millennial employees:
    • Provide employees with information on clubs and leisure activities - Encourage them to seek out hobbies and nurture other interests, thus giving them the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals.
    • Encourage employees to establish relationships - Suggest they connect with people nearby so that they can navigate their way around the area, understand local customs and learn more about events, holidays and activities that go on in the region.
    • Draw up a guide of local expat groups and forums both online and offline - Enable employees to connect with local expat groups to help them establish things to do, events, volunteer opportunities and other activities.
    • Implement a cross-cultural training programme - Offer a way for them to participate to increase the odds of assignment success.

Ultimately, tailoring corporate mobility programmes to align with the millennial employee may require organisations to discard their previously accepted norms of two- to five-year-long relocation assignments. They need to increase the flexibility of their mobility programmes and find partners that understand and are also evolving with industry trends.

By: Craig Ryan, Managing Director, APAC, Oakwood Worldwide

 

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