HRO: Mobility is a Link in the Talent Management Value Chain

Mobility outsourcing is largely a standalone service from specialty providers. ACS, a Xerox Company offers global mobility as part of its multi-process HRO (MPHRO) suite of services while most MPHRO providers do not.

On one hand, it makes sense to leave mobility services to specialty providers because relocation is dynamic with constant changes requiring depth of knowledge and it rides the leading edge waves of economic tides. According to Worldwide ERC’s 2010 Transfer Volume and Cost Survey, relocation is trending up again after the severe trough in 2009. Although it will take some time to reach pre-recession levels, up is good and mobility is joining recruitment outsourcing as an indicator of recovery. For example, Cartus went from $320m in revenues in 2009 to $405m in 2010 and managed 148k relocations. Even in the downturn, it proceeded with the acquisition of Primacy in 2010 and the combined entity added 140 new clients and expanded services with 300 existing clients.

On the other hand, leaving mobility services solely to specialty providers can leave a weak link in the value chain. The answer for most HRO service providers is to ensure inclusion of a strong mobility vendor in the preferred and integrated supplier ecosystem.

Mobility matters because of the continuing evolution of talent management which includes a growing awareness of the link with mobility. While one would think the link is obvious, it is not always managed as an integrated component of succession planning, talent acquisition, and retention, especially on a global basis. In many HR organizations relocation is under the purview of compensation and benefits and talent management is elsewhere.  Add in multiple vendors and a consultant or two and you have a situation needing a bridge of connectivity.

Who will bridge the gap? Mobility providers have really increased their pace of innovation and made strides in becoming strategic advisors in order to survive the recession. The use of new services like pre-decision relocation assessments increased from 9% to 40% since 2007. In addition to administering the relocation process and paperwork, the relocation specialist may help the client decide on a temporary rotational assignment with the lower cost of temporary living versus a permanent relocation with a home sale in a down market. Or they may advise a transferee on renting versus buying, all based on knowledge of client policies, costs, and local markets. It is this group that is raising their eyes over the fence of talent management and going, hmm.

I am not predicting that a mobility provider is going to leap into full scale talent management tomorrow. I do see a new player in the mix for client mind and wallet share. If you are a HRO vendor with talent management as a major offering, think about more than just which technology to use. Do not let mobility be a missing link in your HR value chain.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

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