The 18th annual Corporate Relocation Conference and Exhibition took place on the 3rd of February this year, in London.
We attended the conference to gain further insight about the latest discussions in the field of global mobility.
As we work with HR Managers, Global Mobility specialists as well as Relocation Companies it is important for us hear all sides of the story and stay on top of the latest discourses and trends.
Here are some of my thoughs from the conference.
Third Culture Kids Seminar
Mary Langley spoke about Third Culture Kids (TCKs).
As David Pollock has put it: “a Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents' culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK's life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background”. This definition highlights the ‘third culture’ element which is the common denominator amongst others with similar experiences. She then discussed Hofstede’s model of culture and Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, and how a wide range of different environments impact TCKs’ lives.
The number of different influences/experiences in Third Culture Kids lives, enables them to see a different valid points of view thus making them observant, sensitive, adaptable, flexible and compliant individuals on one side, yet on the other side they may seem unpatriotic and disloyal, and tolerant of anywhere but their own culture. They are also good at learning languages, adept communicators, negotiators and bridge builders. Essentially as Ward has claimed, they “are the prototype of the citizen of the future” in their attitudes and experiences, also in terms of the future global work place.
However, the main point was that this kind of lifestyle does pose some significant disruptions (some experiences are perhaps more impactful than others when eg. evacuations vs. emotional vs. educational, etc) to children/young people’s lives. Therefore, the key to a positive experience is a well-managed move – only then do TCKs become confident in managing change. A well-managed move depends on the support given by parents as well as the company/organisation/relocation provider.
Dual Careers Seminar
The next seminar discussed dual careers and global mobility. As we all know, Gen Y’s expectations of career success is different from that of other generations – challenges, rapid advancements, learning new skills as well as greater flexibility and work-life balance are considered key.
In addition, the increase of same-sex marriages, the current trends for emphasis on greater gender equality in the workplace and a higher number of women on Boards, means that the traditional notion of the ‘trailing spouse’ is also rapidly changing the traditional ‘trailing spouse’ demographic.
Global mobility and HR teams in MNC and international organisations as well as relocation companies today have more to consider than just talent management and finding the right candidate for the role – the key is to find the right candidate in the right circumstances, and to support the candidate and his/her family accordingly; this is no longer a question of a one-fits-all approach, and relocation benefits and incentives are likely to be more customised to each particular case as there is a positive correlation between a spouse’s career and a successful relocation, well-being and another successful international assignment.
A number of support options are available for spousal career support ranging from language and cultural training, to coaching and professional networks (virtual and communities). The main issue is that spouses are often unaware about the support options available.
The bottom line of the seminar was about awareness of the potential challenges, educating others involved about these issues and making sure that they are effectively communicated to the right parties, ie. spouses.
Expat Academy wrapped up the day with some interesting statistics and trends.
Their predictions are that “there will be more assignees, more business travel, more virtual tools, and especially more quick, short term, and commuter assignments...” (PwC Talent Mobility 2020 report). In essence, this means more complexity for HR and Global Mobility departments, as well as Relocation Companies and therefore an increasing need for more outsourcing of specialised services/processes. Outsourcing to reliable global third party vendors means that HR and Global Mobility departments will need to split their focuses on internal talent management as well as monitoring quality of outsourced service provision.