Talent Deployment


Abbott completely updated their global mobility philosophy, policies and programme by:

  • Balancing business goals with the increasing demand for cost effective policy options
  • Selecting the right employees to move, supported by a Talent Management Process
  • Supporting assignee performance and improving the assignee experience
  • Facilitating the development of a pipeline of mobile talent while creating opportunities for local talent
  • Improving the repatriation planning process supporting the retention successful assignees


The problem addressed by the campaign: 
  • A reactive process for managing global mobility.
  • Growing concerns about gaps, risks and liabilities in the management of the assignee population
  • Highly administrative manual processes for managing pay delivery and tax equalization processes
  • Concern in overall effectiveness of Talent Deployment’s ability to be effective in acting as a proactive strategic partner with the business
  • The Talent Deployment team developed and implemented a more structured approach to its mobility programme that is better aligned with Abbott’s strategic goals. This includes:
    • Better pre-assignment planning
    • Effective on-assignment management
    • Repatriation process including cost projections
  • Abbott segmented out the “one size fits all” package into four groups to direct the right level of pay to the right talent type.
  • The most pressing challenge came in presenting managers and stakeholders with the appropriate data to support the change in policy.
  • The practice was extremely successful and was measured through employee turnover rates, customer satisfaction surveys, and performance of individual assignees: 
    • Abbott annual performance review
    • TMR (talent mobility review), nine box rating
    • Financial plan success
  • Assignees proved to have a higher performance rating; however this performance drastically reduces after five years. This learning has led Abbott to impose a five-year cap on international assignments.
Why has it worked?: 
  • This is a global, seamless approach to mobility. All assignees are subject to the same assignment process and their performance was measured in the same way. For a global team there should be the same user experience no matter where an employee is in the global structure.
Conclusions and Recommendations: 
  • In approaching a sweeping change to a talent mobility programme, the most important lesson is to manage appropriate stakeholders, gather data to support change and communicate the changes effectively.
  • When dealing with an established organization and senior employees, it is necessary to find a balance between tradition and the need to modernize and move forward.
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: 

Abbott Financials:

  • Sales: US$ 38.44 billion
  • Profits: US$ 4.55 billion
  • Assets: US$ 62.0 billion
  • Employees: 90,000
About the Author(s): 

Abbott distributes pharmaceutical, nutritional, diagnostic and medical products in more than 130 countries worldwide. Abbott’s diverse range of pharmaceutical, medical and nutritional products includes a broad range of specialized medicines; medical diagnostic instruments and tests; minimally invasive surgical devices; a spectrum of nutritional supplements for infants, children and adults; and products for veterinary care.