Mobility Premium Guideline


COM DEV, a Canada-based designer and manufacturer of space equipment, established consistent mobility guidelines to review all of their international assignments. This was a significant change for the company, given its need to move employees around the globe to complete sensitive, highly skilled manufacturing projects.

The problem addressed by the campaign: 
  • Transnational mobility is essential to COM DEV’s business. Given the sensitive and specialized nature of the satellite manufacturing industry, employees must travel to carry out their job functions and collaborate directly with other specialists and engineers.
  • COM DEV sent employees from different corners of the company to India to work on a project. Upon arrival, the company treated employees very differently and housed them in different types of accommodations. Mobility premiums had previously been tied to the assignee’s home country rather than to the host location.
  • Employees sent on temporary assignments to different company offices received inconsistent support, accommodation and recognition.
  • COM DEV updated its mobility policy and harmonized its approach to mobility. All international assignments are now reviewed according to these revised mobility guidelines.
  • Premiums were implemented based on a survey of global mobility premiums.
  • Mobility premium guidelines allowed COM DEV to redirect spend­ing to get the right employees in the right place at the right time.
  • COM DEV can mobilize and respond to problem programmes much more quickly.
  • The failure of a single component on a COM DEV satellite can jeopardize an investment of several years and hundreds of millions of dollars. Managing mobility well leads to improved quality control and a stronger supply chain.
Why has it worked?: 
  • Human Resources leadership held company meetings to explain the need for improved mobility guidelines. Foreign exchange was discussed and related back to talent management and offshoring. All relevant employees were included in the conversation.
  • Local HR representatives ensured compliance with the guidelines.
Conclusions and Recommendations: 

Keep mobility premium guidelines simple if you are a smaller company (less than US$ 250 million). Most peripheral issues can be handled case by case.

Foundational Issues: 
Public and private constraints on mobility
Level of Collaboration: 
Level 1: Collaboration within the organization
Global (all of the above)
Economic and political context: 
  • Employees: approximately 1,300
  • Locations: Cambridge, Ontario (head office); Ottawa; Aylesbury, United Kingdom; El Segundo, California
  • COM DEV has supplied equipment to leading organizations such as the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency and NASA.
About the Author(s): 

COM DEV International Ltd. is a global designer and manufacturer of space hardware. COM DEV has over 1,100 employees at facilities in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. COM DEV technology is used on more than 700 spacecraft, including 80% of all commercial communications satellites ever launched.