June 19, 2009

Mobile Talent France and Sweden are both members of the European community, but in terms of fostering a flexible workplace environment, they are worlds away. Sweden and the Netherlands rated highest in terms of allowing employees to work from home and providing support to workers who choose that option. Sweden also scored highest among its European peers in terms of having the fewest number of employees lost because they wished to relocate but could not. Sweden finished highest in all categories while France ranked at or near the bottom. The above rankings were part of a study by The Human Capital Institute and SuccessFactors called, “Workforce Mobility Drives Productivity and More Agile Cost Structures” that measured a wide range of mobility factors including ability to relocate, working from home, and retention rates based on ability to relocate. Differences between countries can be attributed to the kind of marketplace served in each country and not simply cultural practices. As Erik Berggren, a researcher with SuccessFactors explains, what distinguishes France and Sweden is the fact that they are competing in entirely different marketplaces. Employees in Sweden are communicating with partners and clients in English while, in France, the business community is geared almost entirely for the French market. Corporations in Sweden and the Netherlands need to offer greater workplace flexibility in order to attract elite, multilingual workers who could easily acquire positions elsewhere in Europe. As the report’s title suggests, by taking a more flexible approach with their highest expense, the labor force, organizations put themselves in a better competitive position. Berggren also recommends that organizations include contingent workers, specifically contractors and temporary employees, in their talent management plan, regardless of who signs their paychecks. Sweden, Germany, and Australia score highest in this regard in terms of the percentage of contingent workers who are managed in the same fashion as full time employees. Again, France manages contingent workers informally.

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