Paradox? Job that Offers Move But Move to Do Remote Work

Human resource and global mobility managers are aware that more thought is required when hiring talents from another city or country, with family members and dependents in tow, especially in the current health crisis. So what are the steps that global mobility managers have to make in order to seamlessly make their assignees and their families feel secure, whether they are staying or moving to a different location?

Would a family feel safer, knowing that the move or relocation actually entails staying at home most of the time — working from home, that is — than staying put in an environment where the assignee is still required to come to the office, and thus risk his family?

The first question has a standard answer pre-COVID 19.

According to The Bridge School, many western businesses perceive family in a typical 1950s model where the father is the breadwinner, the mother a homekeeper, and children spend most of their time in school. But many employers understand that the family model has evolved over the years, and traditional relocation packages just wouldn’t suffice in satisfying the varying needs of different family models.

The second question is tricky amid a surging virus. If a family unit moves to a place deemed safer, they have to travel and expose themselves to other people. Now if both husband and wife will be able to keep their job along the way and they will feel safer in their desired location, then they may want to carefully plan for that move, whether it’s a mile or 2,000 miles away from their home.

The curious thing here is that global mobility managers and HR are offering jobs where you need to be in, say, northern California physically but doing work from your home — and it’s more common now when accounting for the fact that some have moved out in the initial months of the pandemic. It’s an interesting dilemma. The job offer starts remote then the assignee needs to report to the office for at least two days in a week. 

It may be easier to do for a single person, but how about those with families? The family unit is one of the most accounted factors when deploying international assignees. It’s likely that these dual-career families should expect some problems when one considers to take an international assignment in the new normal.

Expat partner support

One way to increase the chances of assignment success is to provide an expat partner employment support. Things were looking up as legislation of different countries were moving toward more skilled migration policies until the onset of the pandemic which forced governments to focus on countering its effects. 

Shield GEO enumerates some of the challenges expat families experience that global mobility managers could take note on:

  • Child care, school, banking, medical care, and other services
  • Language and cultural training 
  • Social integration
  • Legal barriers
  • Short-term assignments

The company further discusses some advice for HR, and global mobility professionals to counter these challenges:

Provide location support and guidance before and during the location. Communicating with the assignee and assignee’s family prior to the relocation process eases their anxiety. Partners, if not the assignees themselves, often call the shots in deciding whether a potential assignee accepts the offer. So, it’s incredibly important to let the family in on the whole relocation process in order to raise their awareness on what transpires during and after relocation.

Offer compensation and benefits packages. It’s only fair to offer incentives to an expat whose family had to make their own personal sacrifices to move to another location. Even some partners give up their jobs just to support an employee’s decision to relocate. Global mobility managers may offer these in forms of salary increases, location allowances (sometimes called hardship allowances), education assistance and more.

Compare the ROI of short vs long term assignments. Like any other investments, employers ought to assess a relocation’s cost implications and whether objectives will be met in a certain duration. In other words, they’re conducting cost-benefit analysis of deploying two alternatives – short term versus long term assignment. Since full relocation packages for families can be significantly expensive, they’re now turning to shorter deployments for assignees with families to cut costs. 

Considering the various expat family models, HR and global mobility teams have to take the extra mile to create more inclusive and robust relocation programs. Once they achieve these programs, it is expected to decrease the probability of unsuccessful assignments.

Successfully reducing assignment failures, in turn, demonstrates a company’s competitiveness in the talent mobility landscape. The mere fact that assignee retention is high speaks volumes for future candidates. It makes them feel secure when considering an assignment opportunity. Plus, leveraging these expat family role models and success stories also attracts external candidates with families to consider international assignments.