In this issue, Deborah de Cerff, TEMI Founder, talks with Brynne Kennedy, Topia CEO, about the opportunities and challenges global mobility has for today’s changing workforce.
Three major trends have changed the nature of work today:
(1) an increasingly global and complex inter-dependent economy,
(2) changing demographics within the workforce, with skill shortages in some places and skill surpluses in others, and
(3) rapid technology changes.
In addition, millennials, who are now the majority of the workforce, have different preferences when it comes to work.
“Mobility has a very strong role to play in attracting and retaining staff, building an adaptive and diverse workforce, and in matching skills to global business needs,” says Ms Kennedy. She observed that employees are spending less time in one particular role or company and tend to have more of a project oriented mentality. For companies to retain staff and enable them to develop and be more fulfilled, they need to provide different opportunities in different locations, either short term or long term. When it comes to opportunities for employees to develop their own careers, Ms Kennedy sees cross-cultural competencies as being of increasing importance. “Building networks within an organisation between different offices, being able to communicate, get things done is more important than ever.”
Enhancing Business Performance
Benefits to an organisation who mobilises its workforce include attracting and retaining staff: – It is much cheaper and considered more valuable to relocate individuals who are already part of the company than it is to recruit new ones, while at the same time the organisation can build an adaptive and diverse workforce. “We know that diverse leadership, gender balance, and cognitive diversity outperform leaders or teams that are not as diverse,” observed Ms Kennedy.
Agile workforces are needed that can adapt to changing macro environments and changing technology environments. This enables people to work across borders, across teams, and across managers, rather than the historic model of one manger for one team in one location. “The most innovative and successful organisations today are tearing that apart, that concept of fixed employment, and building organisations where you can pick skills and people, put them together to complete work, then they disband and do other work,” said Ms Kennedy.
Mobility is key for this to happen but historically has been expensive and is often very fragmented, with about eight different vendors or systems involved in carrying out what is a very big job. Technologies are needed to unify processes, datasets and experiences.
Leveraging Technological Change
Ms Kennedy is of the view that most technology is not up to the task of responding to agile workforces. That is why she founded Topia. Her personal experience was not good when she was a mobile employee: the relocation companies had been built for a different era and were cumbersome and frustrating. She saw the need for much more support for the mobile workforce.
“What was missing,” said Ms Kennedy, “was something that took the best of the HR technologies and the best of the logistics companies to create this future of work platform for the mobile workforce.”
The Topia business suite connects the global mobility ecosystem so that it is easy to move employees between locations. The company’s core product in Australia is called Topia Move and is an alternative to a traditional relocation company. It offers a technology platform that connects the supply chain network, information about the employee’s destination, the cost and quality of life data, and some of the tax data, all in a very modern and automated technology suite. This enables the HR team to project costs for every location, track the status of a relocation, and access reports on the relocation’s progress. The employee can, in one place, see information about their destination, view the status of their relocation and project manage it. As a result, they and their family settle in 14% more efficiently and in a more relaxed and enjoyable way.
Topia is a totally comprehensive offering. Behind the technology is a team of global advocates. They interact with the employee who’s moving to provide a single point of coordination, and they are available 24/7. In addition, there is an expense management business, which will pay all of the expenses to the supply chain and to the employees and then consolidate all of the billing.
As Ms Kennedy said, “We probably live in one of the most dynamically changing times: changes in technology, changes in globalisation, changes in business objectives. Mobility is more important than ever for companies who operate globally.”
The Employee Mobility Institute is Australia’s peak industry body specifically focused on employee talent mobility. Its mission is to advocate, promote, represent and grow the Australian Employee Talent Mobility Industry. Visit TEMI’s website to learn more.
Published by: The Employee Mobility Institute, June 2019