The automaker's decision is part of a trend: companies using moves to achieve specific workforce goals. Companies making such moves must grapple with cultural changes, family considerations, retaining key employees and finding talent in the new locale.
Employee transfers are on the rise as companies see hopeful signs in the economy and ramp up global expansion. And relocation firms are eager to meet employers' demands not just for the basics, but for a host of new services--from pet boarding to immigration law to readjustment counseling.
Office furniture maker Herman Miller Inc. had to cut staff because of an industry downturn. At the same time, however, it recognized the need to invest in retaining star employees and grooming leaders for better times ahead.
Amid ongoing downsizing and employee discontent, Bell Canada had to break down institutional barriers in order to redeploy workers from threatened departments rather than hire outside candidates for new openings. A wide-ranging initiative called Bell People First has redeployed more than 1,500 workers at risk for downsizing and saved about $36 million in severance costs during the first two years alone.
Managers can often be stumbling blocks to internal mobility in a company. Smart firms may want to set up systems that encourage managers to play a stronger role in advancing their underlings’ careers, or that at least prevent managers from hindering workers who want to transfer.
Schneider Electric’s business-incubator project selects high-potential employees to act as members of cross-functional "SWAT teams" that have the authority and ability to move quickly within the organization to find new opportunities and solve problems. Schneider hopes that the project, less than a year old, will fuel sales growth while giving employees the experience they need to become company leaders.