Global Mobility Managers Face Challenges Akin to Putting Out Fire and Building New Office

Global mobility managers face two challenges these days: solving different relocation cases that have risen and evaluating their mobility plans to improve employee experience in their companies. For them, it feels like putting out fire while building a new office at the same time.

Following the pandemic effect on the mobility industry these past months, a virtual roundtable hosted by UrbanBound identified eight key takeaways from global mobility thought leaders on their perspective on relocation in these uncertain times:

Some leaders took note of the need to apply a more flexible relocation program for their employees. They’re encountering issues such as delayed assignments, employees’ mode of transportation, and temporary remote working in the country of origin. Now, employers are inclined to restructure their relocation policies to allow more flexibility on how employees use their benefits.

Mixed reactions on lump sum policies

The option of a lump sum strategy allows assignees to freely allocate their relocation budget to their desire. Participants of the roundtable pointed out pros and cons on implementing such a policy. 

A number of them emphasized the advantage of carrying out lump sum policies as they motivate employees to find housing faster and move much more affordably to benefit from the remaining funds. But others argued that from an employer’s perspective, the policy isn’t cost effective.

Another indicated that this policy is a better fit for entry-level workers than executives. It actually entails poor employee experience.

Cutting costs on relocation programs

Several participants acknowledge the need to cut back expenditures on relocation programs.They identified possible methods: For example, employers can opt to reduce the number of sponsored relocations in a given time. Others mentioned collaborating with talent managers to determine relocation spendings. Two equally eligible candidates allow employers to save relocation funds for only outstanding candidates.

With the ease of travel restrictions, employees with delayed assignments are now eager to relocate and start work activities. Instead of accepting all their requests, several employers are assessing each case whether they see them fit to relocate or not. 

Safety is still the top priority

All participants clearly highlighted the importance of relocating employees safely throughout the whole moving process. Although physical relocations decreased over the past months, other employers have decided to proceed with employee deployments not without stringent safety precautions. 

The safety initiatives UrbanBound executed in tackling the Covid-19 outbreak piqued the participants’ interest. The host monitored guidelines and updates from CDC, WHO and other Covid-19-related organizations to formulate an in-depth guide on employee relocation. The guide provides employees information on expectations of the moving process as well as planning a more seamless relocation experience.

Covid-19 will spark changes to relocation programs

Employers don’t foresee companies adopting a completely remote workforce in the long term. In-office collaboration provides too much value to be permanently replaced by a virtual workforce even with its advantages.

JT McCormick shares the same sentiments. The CEO of Scribe Media insists that remote work causes strain on team dynamics by removing essential social interactions that result in more productivity. 

In light of each participant’s Covid-19 experience, the roundtable identifies the top three changes that they intend to apply on relocation programs:

  • Creation of more flexible relocation policies
  • Reduction of costs while maintaining better employee experience
  • Provision of better emergency policies and benefits

Competitive benchmarking

Business leaders can attain competitive advantage by conducting research on competitors’ relocation policy reviews. This helps them measure their existing policies based on their competitors’ position in the mobility landscape. 

As global mobility becomes more situated with talent acquisition and retention , strategists are benchmarking to modify relocation packages they offer in an attempt to attract quality recruits, retain high-performing workers, and improve employee experience. 

Paragon Relocation recognizes benchmarking as an effective tool in its program designs. In fact, they apply the method annually, assessing their existing relocation policies against competitors’ best practices and offerings to stay competitive.

Second-mover advantage

Back in 2017, TRC Global Mobility recommended studying competitions’ mobility procedures and practices every 2-3 years. It added that any significant changes would drive companies to call for more frequent relocation policy reviews.

At present, Covid-19 forced business leaders to do just that. They had to quickly respond to the rapid adjustments involved in relocation. However, not being first to adapt can be an advantage. 

It automatically qualifies other companies to execute a second-mover strategy but timing is really important. Although commonly used for marketing purposes, the strategy can be applied in a relocation program design as well. The second-mover will have to quickly benchmark a first-mover’s existing policy modifications once they get reliable information.

The last step is to set periodical reviews of policy. This is critical because it determines whether a business’ relocation policy is sustainable. Without recurrent policy checks, companies risk the failure to improve employee experience, avoid unnecessary expenses, and thrive in a constantly changing industry.