Forbes announced 2018 as the year of employee experience. This has been and will continue to be the case for Global Mobility and assignee experience in 2019. With only 3% of organizations rating their global deployment as “world class” in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, there is clearly room for improvement. If assignee experience is not already a focus for your organization’s Global Mobility function it should be.

What is assignee experience?

Assignee experiene (AX) is an offshoot of the more commonly termed Employee experience (EX) which is closely related to Customer Experience (CX).  The equally important User Experience (UX), our “experience” of using digital media is also key to an overal good AX. 

McKinsey defines EX as companies and their people working together to create personalized, authentic experiences that ignite passion and tap into purpose to strengthen individual, team, and company performance.

Why Global Mobility Needs to Help Shape an Organization's Talent

Employees receive an experience from interactions with their employer, particularly when receiving a service, whether that be support for an international relocation, professional development, or a HR request.

This experience can be considered to have three elements:

1.  The employee journey

2. The touchpoints where employee interacts 

3.  Environmental factors: cultural, physical and digital

Why is employee experience important?

If employees have a great experience an organization is considered as a better place to work, Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage determined this qualitatively in a study, and found organizations which invested significantly in EX were:

Additionally, there are meaningful impacts to the bottom line, these organizations on average generate four times the profit per employee of organizations which do not invest significantly in EX despite paying 50% more in terms of salaries.

Further reading

Why International Assignments Are Vital for Talent Attraction and Retention

Given that employees selected for international assignments are frequently in strategic roles with often the largest impact on revenue and profitability, it is a priority to enhance the assignee experience through careful design and management of the relocation journey, touchpoints, and environment.

How to enhance the assignee experience 

To begin designing and enhancing the employee experience a number of principles already used in CX can be leveraged:

  • Employee journey mapping
  • User sensing and sentiment analysis
  • Design thinking
  • Digital employee journey

Employee journey mapping

This is the ideal place to begin and is designed to allow your business to understand the experience the employee has from their perspective. 

Step 1 – Define approach

The relocation journey is typically complex with many stages and working through the entire journey in the necessary detail is unlikely to yield results quickly so there are a number of options to approach this:

  • High-level mapping 

High-level map from the initiation through to post-repatriation.

Advantages: Structured approach to enhancing every touchpoint.

Disadvantages: Fewer Details = Fewer Insights. Delayed impact. 

Why Global Mobility Needs to Help Shape an Organization's Talent

  • Focus on a specific stage of the journey

Detailed mapping of a specific stage such as Acommodation. It is often easiest to begin with the initial steps and then work through the journey chronologically.

Advantages: Impactful in a short time frame.

Disadvantages: May not be the highest impact area. May need amendment due to interaction with other stages

  • Focus on the most problematic stage

Select an area that is thought to have the most detrimental impact on assignee experience and map in detail.

Advantages: May have a rapid and significant impact.

Disadvantages: May not be able to identify the most challenging stage without research. May need amendment due to interaction with other stages. 

The starting point is the same for any of these approaches, a process map from the perspective of the assignee.

Step 2 – Map the journey

When mapping the entire end-to-end assignee relocation journey it is crucial to define the phases, then define the stages within each phase, and map each.

A simplified definition is below:

Pre-acceptance (phase one) 

  • Awareness of potential assignment
  • Candidate assessment
  • Presentation of compensation and benefits package
  • Relocation package

Pre-assignment (phase two)

  • Briefing of the assignment process
  • Relocation services; immigration, tax support, shipment of household goods, home sale support, home finding, language training, intercultural training, partner support, temporary accommodation, etc. 
  • Offboarding

On assignment (phase three)

  • Arrival in the new location
  • Onboarding
  • Provision of remaining relocation services
  • Addition to payroll and first payment of international compensation
  • Ongoing support; Housing support, immigration renewals, language training, international compensation

Pre-repatriation or reassignment (phase four)

  • Awareness of repatriation or new assignment
  • Relocation Services; immigration, tax support, shipment of household goods, home sale support, home finding, language training, intercultural training, spousal support, temporary accommodation, etc. 
  • Offboarding

Post repatriation (phase five)

  • Onboarding
  • Move into home property
  • Delivery of remaining relocation services

Further reading

Why International Assignments Are Vital for Talent Attraction and Retention

Step 3 – Identify and solve opportunity areas

A detailed employee journey map on a specific stage enables roadblocks to be identified. To understand these roadblocks and how they impact the employee research into employee sentiment is needed.

Additional detail is added to the map to make clear the objective, expectation, process as well as the employee’s feelings at each stage.

There are a multitude of approaches to ideating and designing solutions to these roadblocks one of these is design thinking.

User sensing and sentiment analysis

There are many existing sources of information which can be drawn upon in addition to new research to understand employee sentiment, such as:

  • Informal employee feedback – from discussions Global Mobility and HR have with employees
  • Structured employee interview – oral feedback from employees on their relocation experience
  • Surveys and polls – often completed following relocation, or while on assignment these can provide a lot of information on where employees feel the pinch points are. Right time pulse checks are invaluable to assess real time the experience with each touchpoint, something as simple as rating how positive their experience on a scale of 1-5, or using smiley faces can help identify the high and low points within their journey.

Amalgamating this detail enables identification of the most significant challenges and allows prioritization.

Digital assignee journey

With assignees interacting with technology throughout their journey the assignee journey map approach can also be taken with a focus on how they interact with the digital tools available to them. The digital ecosystem is a key environmental factor and how this supports the employee journey and the UX of any tools should be carefully managed.

Benefits to Global Mobility

Ultimately when a priority is made to enhance the assignee experience gains expected include; enhanced assignee morale and engagement, increased productivity and profitability.