WATERFORD, WI - According to this year's fifth annual Total Employee Mobility (TEM) Benchmark Report from Runzheimer International, the mobile workforce remains important to U.S. businesses as a means for driving growth and retaining clients.

The report found that companies are increasingly focused on effectively managing mobile employees in this year’s report. The report also found that costs are still significant, with spending steady or expected to increase.

"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."

In Runzehimer Intl.’s survey, supervising mobile employees was the biggest concern for nearly 50 percent 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 percent) believe their companies are effectively managing mobile workforce programs, but do not necessarily have measurement mechanisms in place.

Fifty-seven percent (57 percent) 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.

When it comes to costs, the report found 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.

For other costs, the survey found that business travel costs are going up. Average direct spend per traveler was up 6 percent over 2009 while average support cost per traveler increased 22 percent. Spending on business vehicles, based on costs benchmarked by business driver and business mile, remained flat, according to the survey. Average direct spend per driver was $8,897, after an increase of 31 percent in 2009. Thirty-eight percent (38 percent) of participants anticipate an increase in spending compared to only 15 percent in 2009, while 41 percent of organizations anticipate an increase in the number of drivers. Importantly, 67 percent of participants are concerned with 24/7 liability obligations for company-provided vehicles used by employees.

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

Virtual office costs decreased by 27 percent to $1,981 when compared with 2009 costs. Forty-percent (40 percent) of participants indicated an increase in virtual office employees in the upcoming year.

Runzheimer stated that it has conducted this survey annually since 2005, however, in 2010; a secondary, supplemental survey was conducted with the results incorporated within this report. Nearly 100 participants took part in each of the surveys.