Remote Work Glossary

What is a global mobility program?

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    A global mobility program is a strategy implemented by organizations to manage the relocation and transfer of employees across different countries around the world. It is a comprehensive program that strives to address the needs of both the organization and its employees regarding workforce management and career development.

    Global mobility programs focus on different types of employee transfer, including relocation, international assignments, business travel, and short-term, long-term, and permanent movement. After the pandemic, the idea of a permanent establishment became fluid, allowing local and international employees to become a mobile workforce, tapping into new markets as employees move to a new location.

    What is a global mobility program?

    First, what is global mobility? Global mobility is a form of employee relocation and describes the movement of people across borders for work, education, or other purposes. 

    A global mobility program, also known as a global mobility strategy, is important in helping organizations manage their global workforce and leverage their talent to drive business success.

    The program typically includes policies and processes that cover various aspects of employee mobility, such as immigration, tax compliance, cultural integration, and logistical support. 

    The ultimate goal of a global mobility program is to enable organizations to position their workforce effectively across different locations. It strives to meet business objectives while also providing employees with opportunities to develop their skills and advance their careers.

    What to include in an effective global mobility program

    There are a few key elements to include in an effective global mobility program. HR professionals, administrative leaders, legal teams, and sometimes a mobility consultant work together to create optimized global mobility solutions.

    Immigration requirements

    Work permits and visa requirements are a top priority when business travel crosses national borders and employees enter a new country. The process requires an understanding of local immigration laws and regulations. 

    Immigration requirements and compliance ensure a smooth movement of employees during cross-border relocations. These details are especially important in a multinational corporation that works in international markets or in companies that frequently move employees during global expansion.

    Tax compliance

    Employees must be compliant with relevant tax laws and regulations in both their home country and foreign country of work. One tax compliance detail involves tax residency and filing requirements. Another is double taxation agreements which should be understood and addressed. 

    Social security and payroll taxes ensure that the necessary payroll taxes are correctly withheld and paid. Another consideration includes tax equalization and protection, ensuring that employees are not financially disadvantaged by international assignments.

    Payroll details

    When working with global talent or employee relocation, employees must be paid accurately and on time, regardless of location. Careful planning and coordination must remain compliant and consistent across different locations. 

    Key considerations include payment methods, currency exchange rates, and payroll taxes. The term “shadow payroll” is used in the context of global mobility, describing a system of payroll calculations that accounts for an employee’s income and income tax liabilities in both their home country and destination of temporary work (or host country). 

    Company culture and talent management

    Company culture and talent management are important components of a successful global mobility program. HR teams must carefully manage these details to ensure that employees performing remote work is integrated into the company culture and have access to development opportunities. 

    Communicate expectations with all current employees, and have regular check-ins. Consider development opportunities and initiatives, such as training, mentoring, and coaching, as well as performance management strategies that lay the foundation for talent retention. Communication is at the heart of a successful global mobility program, and all employees should understand assignments, policies, and processes. 

    Employee benefits

    As the future of global mobility becomes worker-led and experience-driven, the relocation process must consider the benefits for team members. Organizations must ensure that their mobile employees have access to the same or comparable benefits as they would have in their home country, and that these benefits comply with local employment laws and regulations. 

    Some employee benefits to consider include health insurance, retirement benefits, vacation and leave policies, and relocation expenses. The cost of living should also be considered, making sure that relocating employees is a feasible option, and that the employee experience is not negatively impacted.

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