Multi-Generational Engagement

Multi-Generational Engagement, I’m sure you will have come across this buzzphrase a few times recently. But why is it so important?

Well, at 36, I fall into the gap between Generation X and Millennials, I am a Xennial, as some are now calling it. I’m part of that hybrid bunch who have an analogue childhood and a digital adulthood and because of this we tend to be as comfortable picking up the phone and having a chat as we are communicating through the hieroglyphics of emoticons and memes on WhatsApp. However, we’re the smallest part of the workforce. Other generations will tend towards one or the other because of the technology that was available for the majority of their lives.

The workforce itself is a blend of Baby Boomers, Generation X, Xennials, Millennials and the iGeneration who are now entering the market. They all tend to communicate differently, but it would be unwise to stereotype Baby Boomers as purely face to face and phone call based and the iGeneration to only be about social media or instant messaging. However, these generational differences make the job for Internal Communications and Employee Engagement professionals all the more difficult in regularly engaging each group.

It’s not all different though, there are also similarities. Many studies have shown that most of the workforce, despite their generation, look for companies that are well managed, that look after their employees and that give them the authority to make decisions. There lies the key pillars of engagement, communicating these organisational strengths!

Quality of mind

Having recently won a new client, we conducted our usual half day onboarding workshop to learn about Quality of Mind, however it wasn’t till I had the opportunity to experience the 3 Day ‘Quality of Mind Open Programme’ that I had full realisation. It took my understanding to the next level and left me with an invaluable insight into, not just our clients value proposition and their key differentiators, but into the power and impact of the human mind. To say the outcomes exceeded my expectations would be a massive understatement. The pervasive nature of the Quality of Mind learning curve has resulted in a new-found confidence which I believe will help me lead our ever-growing company! I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is grappling with the demands of managing change, dealing with overwhelm or stress and or indeed anyone who is looking for a unique, leading edge approach to dealing with the complexities of the modern world and all the noise that goes along with it. More details of the programme can be found via this link:

Data & Analytics within Global Mobility

A recent survey of multinational firms, that have a globally mobile workforce, found that nearly 60% of them are looking to implement tools to allow them to unlock trends within existing data and empower them to make strategic business decisions.

These findings very much align with what we are hearing from our global corporate clients, there seems to be a common consensus that the use of data analytics will be the next step in Global Mobility. There is a real need to share insights and guidance to develop data analytics technology and processes in order for organisations to continue on their digital transformation journey.

For global mobility professionals, the combination of accurate and predictive analytics could assist their teams to become more strategic within the business. The development and correct use of data analytics can allow practitioners to assess their globally mobile workforce and ensure they deploy the best talent. It can also provide insight into highly profitable business locations in terms of assignment success. Conversely, it could identify high percentage assignment failure or poor ROI.

In order to remain competitive, many of the organisations we are working with are looking into leveraging data analytics into their programs within the next 12 months. They understand that the use of data analytics can assist them in streamlining their processes and reducing costs whilst ensuring they remain compliant.

How can organisations identify global mobility data trends in order to make informed strategic decisions?

The Rise of SMEs and Start-ups going Global

The Rise of SMEs and Start-ups going Global

We are seeing more and more of our clients from SMEs who are beginning to build a presence globally. In fact, a recent survey of UK SMEs highlighted that a quarter of them (1.3 million) are looking to expand overseas in the next 12 months. Supporting this appetite for new growth doesn’t come without its challenges, are they ready to navigate the minefield of compliance that comes with doing business internationally?

Many of these organisations are unaware and ultimately unprepared for the challenges that come with having a globally mobile workforce. They are unlikely to have a dedicated global mobility team, instead the majority of the work will fall on the desks of relatively small HR teams who may be inexperienced in the ever changing landscape of regulation, immigration and tax issues that can be thrown up when moving employees abroad.

How do they bridge these challenges? Do they engage a solution provider, or have a go on their own? Whatever the answer, it’s clear they will need to focus on global mobility as not doing so could lead to a whole host of compliance issues, however, get it right and their growth could be exponential.

Global Mobility – Executive Roundtable Series

Global Mobility – Executive Roundtable Series

The team at Joseph & Co are excited to announce the launch of our Global Mobility – Executive Roundtable Series.

The purpose of these sessions is to discuss trends, strategy and share experience in a collaborative, peer to peer environment as well as provide a platform for thought leadership within Global Mobility.

Ran throughout the US and Europe, the Global Mobility Executive Roundtables are one day events, split into two sessions.

The morning sessions will be for organisations with assignee populations of 100 or less and the focus will be on policy development, operational and strategic trends. These sessions will explore best practice, knowledge sharing and peer to peer networking.

The afternoon session will be for the Masters in Global Mobility who have large and complex assignee programs. Attendees will have the opportunity to share insight, collaborate and network with Global Mobility leaders.

The discussions are invitation only for senior in-house Global Mobility and HR professionals.

To find out more please email:

The Growth of AI in Global Mobility

Although the utilistaion of data to shape Global Mobility programs is still at the forefront of many global mobility professionals’ minds. In our view there are bigger changes on the horizon and these changes come in the form of AI Technology (artificial intelligence).

How can AI be used?

It is expected that all HR and Global Mobility functions will incorporate some sort of Artificial Intelligence into their programs in the future. This will come in the form of technology that can replicate intelligence and decision making of a human (chatbots). These bots would be utilised to handle the more time consuming administrative tasks that face HR and Global Mobility professionals, such as expat allowances, shipping of household effects, booking of temporary accommodation and many service based requests.

With the ability to respond to complex questions and requests, AI bots can automatically action approved requests, thus alleviating the administrative burdens on HR and Global Mobility teams. In addition, AI does not make mistakes and is available around the clock, making it an invaluable tool when operating across multiple time zones.

Businesses that invest in technology will almost certainly become more efficient and productive. By utilising the large quantity of data, leaders will have the ability to spot trends and opportunities far quicker than what was previously possible.

How will AI effect Global Mobility teams of the future? Will AI allow global mobility professionals to shift to a more consultative and strategic role within the business?

This key topic is one of many that will be discussed by leaders during our Global Mobility Executive Roundtables in Seattle (Oct 16) and London (Nov 7).

To register your interest or find out more about the Global Mobility Executive Roundtable Series please email: or call +447756967162

Joseph & Co will be distributing a post-event white paper report summarising our findings.

AI & Employee Engagement

Artificial Intelligence (AI). From 1927’s The Metropolis, through Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, past The Terminator and right on into our lives, AI is here and its staying. Its applications are wide and varied and in business, where data is king, it maybe the best thing since sliced bread, but what are its uses in HR?

Employee Engagement has preoccupied business leaders thoughts since at least the 1990’s, but aren’t all employees different, with different perceptions and drivers? Well, yes, obviously, so blanket programs will always leave gaps. What about changing moods or feelings? People change, even if minutely, with every contact they have, so how much accurate data can be gleaned from a yearly survey? What happens if the day after the annual survey the employee falls out with their line manager over Brexit or Donald Trump or Football? Do you carry on with the misconception that the employee is engaged and happy for the rest of the year?

Some say AI and Machine Learning (ML) is the panacea. We are already in a world of chat bots for HR Service Desks and video interviewing to increase the efficiency in recruitment. What if we could recognize and weed out unconscious biases in hiring and promoting? That’s got to be good for business, right? Using analytics to personalize learning hopefully will mean employees grow and progress faster. Another good thing.

What about implanting GPS chips to measure time and attendance? How about facial recognition to scan employee’s emotions while walking around the office? A bit too “Big Brother”? Or how about Email Sentiment Analysis  to calculate employee emotional attachment by scanning the words and phrases they use in their emails? A bit too intrusive? Will it understand my emoji’s and memes?

What if the data quality isn’t the best or has biases riddled throughout it? Will the results still be useful? What about negative outcomes, like historic data saying there should be a gender pay gap, because the data shows that when there was a gender pay gap in the past, the company performed better?

Let’s embrace this exciting new world, but let’s be mindful that any new technology brings with it unseen benefits and costs. What are your experiences in using AI and ML in HR and where do you see the future going with this technology?

EX – Employee Experience – A new paradigm for HR and Mobility

By Chris Debner – Strategic Global Mobility Advisory

CX – What we all experience

Think of Starbucks and the friendly messages that are written on your cups, or how easy it has become to return an unwanted Amazon purchase.

If you’ve not heard of CX yet, you have certainly experienced it. CX stands for customer experience and is defined as the sum of perceptions that customers of goods and services experience during the interaction between with an organization over the duration of the relationship. We are all customers, almost constantly…

It is how we become aware, discover, cultivate, purchase and advocate for a good or service. Companies are designing the customer experience carefully to create a pleasant and meaningful experience for their customers, so that they will return and maybe even recommend the goods or services to others.

Imagine if your company could leverage this experience and apply to your employees, to become more successful.

From CX to EX – More for us to experience

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”Stephen R. Covey

EX – employee experience is translating this concept to the workplace to create higher attraction, better employer image, engagement and resulting performance and retention.

Talent Management starts to take the responsibility to create engaging and meaningful employee experiences and employees’ perceptions during the course of the entire employee life cycle.

A survey conducted by IBM of 23,000 employees in 45 countries revealed that more positive employee experiences are linked to better performance, extra effort at work, and lower turnover intentions. The key organizational practices that drove more positive employee experiences are described in the survey as organizational trust; co-worker relationships; meaningful work; recognition, feedback and growth; empowerment and voice; and work-life balance.

Think of Google or Facebook offices and how they create employee experience, the Volkswagen policy that bans e-mails after office hours or IBM offering remote working.

“The battle for the hearts and minds of employees is played out daily through their workplace experiences.” IBM Smarter Workforce Institute

As customers we are used to be offered ever increasing levels of customisation in the goods and services that we buy. The logical evolution of this is that this approach evolves into other areas, and before long, if employers cannot enable their employees to customise their employee experience, whether in career path or in benefit packages, they will lose out to those that can.

It is a shift of the perception from the traditional way of seeing the employee as a resource to seeing the employee as a customer that needs to be attracted, engaged and retained. EX is therefore not just Talent Management, or workplace design, but rather a new paradigm that should permeate all interactions that an employee experiences during the employee life cycle.

Think of onboarding processes, technology user-experiences, self-directed learning, performance management processes and company purpose among many others.

EX drives culture and performance of an organisation. An increasing amount of companies are committing to it and the number of positions offered for Employee Experience Managers are on the rise. It will be a key success factor for companies to attract, engage and retain the future workforce.

EX in Mobility – one of most significant experiences

“It is beyond a doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience.” Immanuel Kant

International assignments are undisputed to be one the most significant experiences an employee can have during his or her career. It involves their families and creates great learning and developmental opportunities when living and working in other cultural contexts, but also creates risks of life stress, family separation, and reintegration risk on repatriation.

Imagine that you were in a position to create an employee experience where the vast majority of your assignees would be engaged performers who can be retained after their assignments.

The EX focus needs to be brought into mobility management. Many Mobility functions are still stuck in the paradigm that is all about administration and compliance. Compliance should be perceived for what it really is, a hygiene factor that has absolutely no power to create a positive experience for the employee. Only the absence of compliance has the potential to make employees unhappy. Learn more about it in my article Compliance – A hygiene factor.

Think of a filed tax return, a granted work permit or a kidnapping training.

Mobility management is slowly realizing their real purpose: To create a meaningful and engaging, stress free experience for employees and their families when they are being sent on an assignment.

The focus in Mobility also needs to shift to the paradigm of EX – employee experience.

EX in Mobility – how to

A good start would be to take a close look at all the interactions that an employee (and even their families) experience before, during and after an assignment. Look at how positive experiences look like and how negative perceptions are created. Besides your assignees and their families, you will realize that many of your stakeholders (business, talent management) are also employees that experience the way you conduct your business. And do not forget about the many external providers that you use, who interact with your employees and create EX.

If you are not able to come up with negative and positive experiences ask your stakeholders, they will be happy to tell you all about it.

The next step of this exercise is to consider what you can do to minimize or eliminate the identified negative employee experiences and to look for ways to create more of the positive ones, so that they can more effectively deliver on their new professional responsibilities when abroad.

A nice example comes from a large e-commerce company who lists all former assignees in a database as possible mentors for future assignees. This gives the former assignees a meaningful experience when sharing what they learned on their assignments and the future assignees a great way to prepare for the challenges lying ahead, benefiting from the support of employees who mastered the challenges.

Another example I came across, is a European material science company which focusses on the enhancement of the interaction between the business and mobility. The process was re-designed to create a meaningful communication between the two sides, where expectations from both sides were openly shared and a better understanding achieved.

There are many more examples out there and you can likely think of some that you witnessed yourself, when a change effort results in a better employee experience.

EX – the new paradigm for HR

To conclude, EX is the new paradigm that HR has to adapt for it is one of the most meaningful contributions to their companies success, when the right workforce can be attracted, engaged and retained. The leading companies are adopting the new paradigm, and those that don’t will fall behind. Mobility departments, being in charge of one of the most meaningful experiences in an employee’s career, need to shift their perception from compliance to their real purpose – the creation of meaningful and positive experiences for their assignees.

Global Mobility…. A Strategic Contributor?

This Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day around the world. I was listening to LBC radio and they were also talking about the news that 1 in 20 people in the UK now don’t believe that the atrocities actually happened. As the debate rumbled on about why, I came to the opinion that part of the problem was that a lot of those people who lived through it were no longer with us to tell their stories, the human experience as opposed to the dry facts in textbooks. Now, I don’t know about you, but it feels more real to me when I have someone’s story rather than looking at a long list of stats and numbers.

We often transfer knowledge through stories, especially between different generations in the corporate world. More recently, as technological innovation has increased exponentially, the transfer of knowledge goes the other way too, with millennials and now Generation Z teaching the Baby Boomers about social media, vlogs and memes.

This all reminded me of something that my friend Garry Turner from IMCD mentioned in of our Global HR Executive roundtable discussions recently. Garry thought that there was an opportunity with some of the some of the advancements of technology to capture some of the knowledge that would be leaving industry with the Baby Boomers.

But how would we capture this knowledge? Traditionally the lessons of experience are put down onto paper, in hardback if you’re really respected, then placed on the shelves in bookstores, or analysed in university seminar rooms. That, of course, requires a writer to document it but dismisses the knowledge of those who don’t. So, how will intelligent technology capture more of this lost knowledge?

I don’t know for certain how technology will facilitate this, but as a thought, I can imagine AI-led retirement and outplacement interviews, using sentiment analysis and predictive learning to store and sort knowledge in usable forms for future use. Would that work? What would it miss? Would there be biases? I’d love to hear your views.

Through our engagement with HR & Global Mobility leaders we have noticed a trend that many Global Mobility teams are striving to move away from being seen as an administrative function that purely co-ordinates employee moves, to instead being seen as a more valued strategic contributor to the organisation. However, the reality is those leaders are experiencing varying degrees of success.

Support for change is needed from across the business which is no easy task considering the commercial reality, competing priorities and tight resources many organisations are facing.

Buy-in from the senior management teams is crucial to enable and drive change within Global Mobility programmes.

Challenges for Obtaining Buy-in?

There are several challenges for Global Mobility teams who are striving for change.

Organisations are typically resistant to change and generally there is a lack of understanding of compliance duties. Add to this limited resources and the fact that collaboration and integration between functions remain the exception not the norm. This can often mean that there is dearth of consistent identity and positioning for Global Mobility within the business.

Operationally, there is more regulation and compliance than ever before. This adds additional risks and costs when moving and hiring talent across borders. These continually changing regulations and compliance requirements are uncompromising and highly stringent on employers.

A persuasive case to the management will have to focus on how an effective global mobility function will address these challenges, both strategically and operationally.

Aligning Global Mobility to the Wider Business Strategy 

A crucial element to gain management support is to ensure that there is a vision of what Global Mobility should look like for the business. This will enable the senior management team to have a better understanding of how Global Mobility can align to the wider organisational strategy.

A few areas for consideration:

  • Corporate Culture and Objectives

Understanding the high level goals of the organisation and what it is trying to achieve should ultimately determine the shape and form of any mobility programme.

Due to the ever dynamic nature of international business and uncertainty in the geopolitical landscape, many organisations need more flexibility and agility when deploying employees globally in order to increase competitive advantage.

Also, Global Mobility teams should consider how their programmes are aligned with the culture and core values of the organisation.

If the employee journey and experience is an important focus within the business, does this align with the current mobility programme? Are employee aspirations, expectations or experiences a consideration or is the focus driven by process and compliance tick boxing?

  • Reducing Cost and Increasing ROI

Cost and return on investment will always be important for senior management, subsequently the key themes will be around the implications of organisational mobility in terms of investment, savings and returns.

Will changes in policies, procedures, systems or resources require investment? What are the expected returns – cost savings, resulting efficiencies?

Typically, we see the cost of Global Mobility being passed from department to department before ultimately coming out of the HR budget. A fully owned and ring-fenced budget, managed by a centralised Global Mobility function, will enable financial transparency for management purposes, through improved planning, accountability and effective vendor management.

  • Technology Innovation

Improvements in technology now offer a huge amount of potential to enhance efficiency and effectiveness within Global Mobility programmes.

Global Mobility teams and organisations are moving away from locally managed spreadsheets to more comprehensive future-proofed technology platforms that support integration between functions such as HR, Global Mobility, Tax and Payroll.

But it doesn’t stop there, there is also an increased focus on data and how it can be utilised to better drive decisions, strategy and action. Analysing accurate data across Global Mobility programmes allows teams to measure and improve service performance, identify risk and trends and enable informed decision-making by both the senior management teams and the mobility function.

  • Talent Strategy

The war on talent is relentless and competition for talent is fierce, however an effective Global Mobility programme can offer the potential to enhance talent acquisition and development for all levels of employees.

Strategically, Global Mobility should unite in the process of forecasting and planning for the future talent needs of the business. What skill sets does the organisations need to attract, where will they need to be and when will they be needed?

Another key area within talent strategy and where Global Mobility could add value is identifying and developing future leaders within the business. It is important for these future leaders to acquire the international exposure and experience that is expected for senior management positions.

The opportunity to work internationally is now a key draw for many employees seeking new roles, especially for Millennials who place a huge amount of importance on gaining professional experience within different cultures. Employers who incorporate international opportunities within their employee development schemes will be more appealing to top talent.

On the flip side there needs to be a focus on retaining repatriating employees. In order to avoid high attrition rates, these employees will want to understand what their future remit will be within the organisation.

 Impact of Global Mobility Strategy

Securing senior management buy-in is imperative in developing a truly effective and sustainable approach to Global Mobility. Ultimately it rests on convincing senior management that Global Mobility can deliver in alignment with the overall business objectives, supporting the organisation’s competitive advantage.

Diversity Biases in AI

Anything that is built will reflect the builder and that’s no different with AI. One of the concerns that have become apparent with Artificial Intelligence is that it can be created with detrimental biases built into its core.

The tech industry, though gradually changing, currently is very male and very culturally similar, despite the myriad of locations that developers are based. This may be down to the level of education that’s needed or it might be because of global online communities that are often frequented by developers.

Interestingly, a lot of our everyday AI Assistants tend to have female (think Alexa, Siri, and Cortana etc.) You can change Siri to male if you wish, but the default setting is female. Intricate problem-solving AI bots, like IBM’s Watson and Salesforce’s Einstein are distinctly male.  This may be indicative of the views of gender roles by the manufacturers, harking back to female PAs and male leaders.  Also when Microsoft were researching which voice to use, the results came back that when building a helpful, supportive, trustworthy assistant, a female voice was best. IBM’s Watson, however, speaks with a male voice as it works beside doctors on cancer treatment and does so in short, definitive phrases which mimic the voice patterns expected of leaders. Google Translate converts Spanish phrases into English as “he said” “he did”, even when the subject is female, so it’s not just the persona’s, it’s the results as well.

It’s not just gender biases either, Nikon cameras’ software to detect when somebody is blinking consistently indicated that East Asian were always blinking, and of course, AI machine learns, as in the case of Microsoft’s Tay, which learnt to be racist, misogynistic and generally horrid from being on Twitter for less than 24 hours.

So if we are using artificial intelligence to CV screen, video interview or suggest who should be promoted, how can we trust it to not start out, or learn to be biased?

One of the significant causes of AI bias is the data it’s trained on. For example, AI for images are often trained using the 14 million labelled images of ImageNet, others might use scrapes from Google Images or Wikipedia. As some groups are under-represented and others are over-represented, this obviously skews the data. When I did a Google Image search for “business person”, of the 45 images on the first page, 38 were male, 31 were white males. I’m fairly sure 70% of all business people are not white males, but if your data set for a business person has been scraped from Google Images, your AI will think this is the case.

With the amount of time AI has been learning from skewed data sets, it could be said the next generation of AI matures, the human biases in the ancestor AIs are now intrinsically embedded into the system and the logical steps that the AI takes to get to decisions are complex and hidden.

So how can AI be freed from the bias trap?

Creating transparency standards and using open source code should allow the AI’s logical steps to be scrutinised and biases rooted out. Training data will have to be screened to remove biases and ensure representations across gender, race and much more. AI is here; let’s do our best to ensure it produces the best results, not biased results.