Learning & Development

Global Assignments Boost Employee Development

Despite COVID-19, there is still a push for global mobility, and companies are taking advantage of the trend by expanding their operations and markets internationally. As they do, opportunities emerge for employees to take on global assignments that many find both challenging and rewarding.

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Employees Crave Global Opportunities

In fact, according to PwC, among Millennial employees, global assignments are in high demand—71% would like to have one. Envoy Global’s “2020 Immigration Trends Report” suggests that organizations understand the value employees place on these assignments, indicating that global assignments are increasingly becoming a strategic aspect of both talent acquisition and employee development.

How Employers Are Responding

The 2020 report, Envoy Global’s fifth annual, was conducted by The Harris Poll and is based on a survey of 433 HR professionals and hiring managers from different industries and companies of different sizes.

It’s worth noting that the report was conducted pre-COVID, but as you can see, the push for global mobility has already begun. Key findings include:

  • Demand for foreign talent to help address skills gaps remains high. More companies are turning to immigration as a means of closing these gaps and in an effort to create a diverse workforce.
  • However, immigration remains an area of high scrutiny by the government. According to the report, “[O]nly 16% of survey respondents said the visa application process has become less difficult under the current administration, while 38% said it has become more difficult.”
  • Sponsorship of employees with green cards is at its highest level since 2016. “However, an unprecedented backlog of green card applications has led to wait times that can span decades,” the report says.
  • The 2020 election is likely to result in significantly more changes to immigration reform than in the past.
  • Non-U.S. global assignments are being used more as a strategic element of talent acquisition and employee development.
  • Canada is continuing to establish itself as a compelling alternative destination to the United States through new, fast-track pathways to encourage high-skilled immigration.

The fifth key finding has impacts specifically for training and development (T&D) leaders.

Takeaways for T&D

Respondents to the survey indicated that global assignments are factoring into their employee development and retention strategies—31% say they’re using rotational programs to reward or develop high-potential employees.

Global assignments are also playing a role in executive succession planning, with 36% of respondents indicating they are using global assignments in this way.

For T&D leaders in companies that have opportunities for global assignments, considering how these opportunities might be used strategically as part of the employee development process can both boost employee engagement and offer opportunities to develop new skills.