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Mobile Workforce Value and Associated Costs Remain High Despite Economy
added: 2011-03-17

According to this year's fifth annual Total Employee Mobility® (TEM) Benchmark Report from Runzheimer International, the mobile workforce remains vitally important to U.S. businesses as a means for driving growth and retaining clients. The increased desire to more effectively manage mobile employees was one resounding theme from this year's report. In addition, cost remains significant with spending holding steady and even projected to increase in many areas.

"The need to more effectively manage mobile employees and continued cost significance, are key findings in this year's report," said Greg Harper, president of Runzheimer International. "It raises the question of whether or not organizations really understand the holistic nature of their mobile workforce programs. The need for formal assessment to measure results, from return-on-investment to employee satisfaction, has never been more important."

Mobile Workforce Concerns and Benefits

Supervising mobile employees was the biggest concern for nearly 50% of the 90 executive respondents. In addition, a contradiction emerged that could indicate companies need to tighten management of their mobile workforce programs:

- Most survey participants (72%) believe their companies are effectively managing mobile workforce programs, but do not necessarily have measurement mechanisms in place

- Fifty-seven percent (57%) of the these same participants said they have not yet implemented, are unsure, or are in the process of implementing formal, centralized processes that can be tracked or benchmarked over time

Participants indicated the biggest benefits of the mobile workforce are employee satisfaction (26%) and using the mobile workforce effectively to gain a competitive advantage (25%). These findings are significant, showcasing that organizations understand the value of the mobile workforce. Employees are now expected to be mobile, providing a competitive advantage to organizations by ensuring the right employee is at the right place at the right time.

Mobile Workforce Costs and Trends

Although the focus has expanded to include the strong desire to more effectively manage mobile employees, the cost is still significant. According to the 2010 Runzheimer TEM report, overall mobility program spending is holding steady and is projected to increase in many areas in the near term. This is a shift from 2009, when most organizations did not project an increase moving forward. The TEM benchmarking study found that organizations completing three or more sections of the survey averaged an investment of $7,350 per employee per year, regardless if they are mobile or not. In an organization of only 1,500 employees, this equates to an annual investment of just over $11 Million.

Other Key Survey Findings by Operation:

Business Travel - costs are increasing. Average direct spend per traveler was up 6% over 2009 while average support cost per traveler increased 22%. Travel remains important to conducting business and is coming back after recent economic challenges. While the costs associated with travel programs increased, the efficiency in supporting these programs decreased 34% to 565 travelers supported by one FTE compared to 861 travelers supported by one FTE in 2009.

Business Vehicles – costs benchmarked by business driver and by business mile – remained flat. Average direct spend per driver was $8,897, after an increase of 31% in 2009. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of participants anticipate an increase in spending compared to only 15% in 2009, while 41% of organizations anticipate an increase in the number of drivers. Importantly, 67% of participants are concerned with 24/7 liability obligations for company-provided vehicles used by employees.

Employee Relocation – direct spend declined by 7% per relocate to $39,764. Forty-three percent (43%) of participants indicated an increase in the number of relocates compared to 55% of participants anticipating a decrease in 2009. In the next year, 34% of participants plan to invest more in relocation programs.

Virtual Office - direct spend per virtual office employee was $1,981, a decrease of 27% over 2009. Forty-percent (40%) of participants indicated an increase in virtual office employees in the upcoming year.

Source: PR Newswire

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