The Growth of Talent Mobility This Decade

January 2, 2020 Erik Prado

The next decade will see further demand for overseas assignments

As the world enters a new decade, old ideas about work and talent mobility are waning. Employees aren’t sitting behind desks all day, nor are they restricted by the ways in which they can communicate with coworkers. These advancements—and more—hint at how the next 10 years will usher in the future of work.  

Three reasons why talent mobility will grow in 2020

Increasing Demand

During the 2000s and parts of the 2010s, global assignments were often reserved for senior leadership. But as younger workers—particularly millennials—enter the workforce, they have increasingly asked for global assignments.  Interestingly, a 2010 study from PwC predicted this movement. The study said millennials will make up a significant majority of international assignments by 2020. Starting this year, expect this trend to continue. Millennials, and soon enough Gen Z, view their jobs without boundaries. Millennials, defined by Pew as individuals born between 1981 and 1996, are still relatively young. Consider that in 2019, the oldest millennials are around 38 years old, while the youngest members are 23 years of age. Their careers are still young and they have a strong desire to see different parts of the world. They value experiences and opportunities over large paychecks. Another aspect to consider is that millennials are known for job hopping, and typically stay at organizations for two years before seeking a new job. This is no secret for employers. Expect the new decade to consist of more employers building and refining global mobility programs to help retain talent. However, part of the increasing demand in global assignments will also come from baby boomers and generation Xers. While they are older, they may be motivated to explore and accept overseas assignments.

The Growth in Global Cities

Emerging economies will continue to grow in the 2020s. As a result, new urban centers are likely to emerge that will attract outside investment. PwC predicted that by 2025, Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Mumbai and Mexico City are going to be the five most populated urban centers. In the 2020s, employees won’t just look at the usual cities for global assignments. Don’t be surprised if companies start offering short- or long-term assignments in fast-growing areas.

Technological Advancement and Collaboration

Technology has come a long way since 2010. From a hardware perspective, laptops, smartphones and tablets have enhanced productivity for employees or introduced streamlined processes to traditional workflows. The rise of software as a service (SaaS) means many vendors have moved their products to cloud-infrastructure. Employees are now able to access tools no matter their location. Finally, employee communication is more robust. Email is still around, but services like Slack and Microsoft Teams let startup and enterprise employees communicate quickly and from anywhere. Technology’s advancements in the 2010s have changed the work landscape. These tools are part of the reason the demand for global assignments will increase in the 2020s. Employees no longer need to sit behind a desk. They can work remotely, whether it’s from their apartment or the bustling streets of London, and they will seek opportunities that have remote work policies coupled with global mobility programs. Many of the topics discussed today aren’t new ideas, but it is interesting to reflect upon PwC’s predictions from 2010 because many of the trends discussed are ongoing. The ideas and tactics described as “the future of work” may become “the present of work” this decade.

To learn more about global mobility trends and the importance of global assignments, download The Global Talent Imperative, the latest report from Envoy INSIGHTS.

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