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International Relocation Is Not the Only Type of Work Mobility Needed to Attract Great Talent

International relocation. It can be one of the most alluring aspects of working for company with operations around the world. But with today’s technologies and new ways of working, workplace “mobility” has taken on a whole new meaning.

According to Belgin Ertam, Regional HR Director and Head of Organization and Talent Development at GE in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT), successful companies like GE are creating many opportunities for employees regarding their work “place.”

“We have always seen relocation as a part of the GE culture, but in today’s environment, we have expanded our sense of mobility to provide additional choices that help our employees perform at their best,” Ertam explained during a webinar hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Dubai and Cigna.

Even before COVID, GE was expanding remote work options for employees, she said. This trend was only accelerated by the pandemic. For employees in the MENAT region, some of the most common non-traditional work options include:

  • Flextime, which allows employees to change their start and ending work hours.
  • Temporary remote work, which allows employees to work away from their workplace for a time-limited period, for example to travel abroad for family reasons and to work remotely during the time away.
  • Permanent remote work, which is what many office workers experienced during the pandemic. GE and the employee agree the worker will work long-term from home.
  • Telecommuting, which is an arrangement where an employee spends some portion of their daily work hours away from their primary work location. This can be within a single day, or could mean several days at the office and a couple day at home.

Leveraging some of the same online collaboration tools used by remote workers, GE also offers what Ertam called “intellectual” mobility. To tackle a specific project, GE leaders will create mission-based teams that bring together employees from different offices and geographies for periods lasting three to 12 months. These projects are done alongside their regular responsibilities, adding a beneficial and engaging international experience.

“These are very well received by employees because they get the opportunity to meet, network and work with colleagues from GE locations around the world. It helps them build their networks, and they learn a lot,” Ertam said.

Alongside these virtual temporary international assignments, GE also offers short-term in-person international assignments. Designed for high-potential employees and those on a leadership track, these assignments help build skills and networks with key leaders and other members of their business.

While at their international assignment, the employee continues to perform many of their existing responsibilities, but spends a portion of their time working on projects and learning from colleagues in their temporary location.

These assignments not only benefit the employee on assignment, but also the people they work with, especially if they are traveling to a global or regional headquarters. The HQ teams “get a flavor for the country the high-potential employee is coming from and a better sense of that local market.”

For high-potential new hires and recent graduates, GE offers its Global Leadership Programs. These highly regarded, intensive, multi-rotational, multi-year programs operate across fields such as engineering, finance, and project management to give these select new employees exposure to different geographies and areas of the business. One-quarter of GE’s senior leadership began their careers with GE in these programs.

Looking even earlier than university graduates, GE operates internships for undergraduates and student career mentorship programs for high school students.

Both have been brought on to a virtual platform as a result of the pandemic. Even online, these programs continue to be well received by students, who are able to engage with GE professionals and leaders, and learn practical concepts around real-life work situations.

“Companies that can offer a wide range of mobility and work flexibility options will be able to attract the top talent in the market,” she concluded.

Business: Corporate

Country: Middle East, North Africa

Keywords: Leadership, Talent, Work mobility