The World Economic Forum, with the support of Marsh & McLennan Companies and other partners has recently released the 14th edition of the Global Risks Report.
The report examines the evolving global risk landscape, and also highlights the major threats that may cause disruption globally during 2019 and looking forwards over the next decade. It describes the key challenges that governments, companies, and individuals will have to face, including abrupt technological changes, more frequent natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, and the risks of social unrest.
While many global mobility discussions focus on the concepts of flexibility, self-service, and the long-heralded (although yet to arrive) disappearance of traditional expatriate assignments, this summary of global risks provides a timely reminder that international talent mobility remains a complex process, and can put globally mobile employees in situations where their physical, emotional and financial health is at risk.
The accompanying article (by Olivier Meier of Mercer) highlights that new generations of global mobility teams are not necessarily better equipped than their predecessors to manage security issues, financial problems, health considerations, and other types of risks. More than ever, companies need well-thought strategies to manage risks.
Risks linked to global mobility and business travel cover a much bigger range of issues than just security and compliance. Risks impacting the employee and the organization include:
Physical: for example, health or security issues threatening the employees.
Psychological: repeated stress affecting employees and their families – ultimately impacting performance and leading to talent attrition.
Operational: disruptions to the business in the host location.
Data-related: moving talent implies circulating their personal data across jurisdictions – this leads to increased compliance risks.
Financial: ultimately many of the issues are likely to result in additional costs for the organization and in some cases for the employees themselves.
Reputational: mismanaged assignments can lead to a negative perception of mobility/travel programmes and even impact the overall employer branding.
In the article, the point is made that risks can be invisible - an invisible risk is one that arises from an issue that the HR department is entirely unaware of, such as an expatriate assignment that is happening "under the radar" (a stealth expat) and is therefore not being managed, monitored or tracked by the global mobility team.
The potential risks also increase with the multitude of new assignment types that have become more common over recent years, reflecting changing business need, employees demographics, and the requirement to improve the ROI of assignments and control costs - such as extended business travellers, commuter assignments and projects.
The link to the full article is below - required reading for global mobility managers and business travel managers alike.