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Four Keys to Helping Your Global Business Remobilize Relocations and Assignments

It’s been a turbulent year so far, but we’re starting to see encouraging signs of global business activity resuming. With cautious optimism, corporate leaders and mobility teams are making plans to remobilize key people in critical locations to take on important assignments.

Considering all that is happening, it’s likely that you can’t simply pick up where you left off. As your business and mobility activities begin to rebound, it’s more important than ever to recommit to providing exceptional experiences with a new mindset, more safety measures, careful preparations and a greater empathy for your employees’ physical, emotional and mental well-being.

Below, we provide questions and important topics to consider as you support employees in their new environments when (or if) they decide to move forward with a relocation or assignment.

Navigating an Evolving Mobility Landscape: Four Tips to Help You Move Forward

To meet new global Talent Mobility requirements in a landscape that most assuredly will continue to evolve, mobility managers will need to move ahead carefully and make some critical adjustments in your programs. We recommend that you focus on these four key areas initially:

1. Prioritize Who Needs to Get Where and When

It’s important to align with the evolving business objectives of the company and collaborate with your internal stakeholders to determine what moves can – or must – take place first. You can craft those discussions around questions like:

  • Are there new facilities opening that require employees to relocate there?
  • Are there any critical projects planned or underway that require an employee to move to a location?
  • Are there immigration concerns for any of your assignees – e.g., employees at risk of overstaying their visas?
  • Is travel into the targeted country allowed? Does that country require any special documentation or enforce quarantine regulations, and are additional costs associated? (Many companies are allowing exceptions to pay for these additional costs.)
  • Are there employee moves that were interrupted earlier this year and put on hold – e.g., a situation where a family has been split and/or a household goods shipment is being held in transit?

With this kind of detailed information defined and prioritized, you’ll be aligned with your stakeholders and ready to address the most important short-term, mobility-related needs of your business.

2. Set Expectations Early to Avoid Misunderstandings Later

Due to an expected influx in volume industry-wide, suppliers may quickly reach capacity when things re-open. Agility and flexibility are vital because the new landscape will add extra steps and considerations, such as quarantine time, visa and immigration delays, customs issues and delays, school and university closures and so on. Gather as much information as you can about possible interruptions beforehand and communicate your plan of action to help with transparency.

Here are a few questions to consider that may help you understand what expectations need to be set:

  • For a move that’s in process, who will decide when it will resume—the assignee or the business?
  • If an employee is not ready to resume their relocation activity, is the business okay with it remaining on hold? (Many of our clients are providing employees with a pre-determined period to resume relocation activity (e.g., 90 days), based on when their offices will re-open.)
  • What is the employee’s ability to reject a previously accepted transfer or assignment?
  • Will repayment terms apply when an employee wants to cancel if they think a relocation is too risky at this time? (Some of our clients are not requiring repayment of actual expenses incurred (i.e. travel, hotel), but are requiring repayment of the balance of any lump sum that has not been spent.)
  • Are there any special considerations that should be made for household goods shipments that are in progress? (e.g., in the split-family scenario)

3. Prepare Your Policies to Flex

Certain global, regional or local travel/relocation challenges may call for mobility program policy flexibility, exceptions or even short-term revisions. Most companies that we’ve worked with are not formally revising their policies, but instead are providing blanket exception approvals. Here are a few questions to ask as you consider potential exceptions:

  • Will the family accompany the employee? If not, will you allow any return trips home?
  • Is there a need for additional temporary housing due to local quarantine regulations or other unexpected delays?
  • Are disinfecting and cleaning services needed/authorized at the new residence?
  • Will the timing to acquire a home need to be adjusted (e.g., in a U.S. home sale program)? (To ensure IRS guidelines are met, careful consideration is required if timing is adjusted.)

Anticipating potential pitfalls you may encounter and being ready to adjust your policies as needed, will provide employees with a better experience – and help you manage any associated costs.

4. Communicate Regularly with Internal Stakeholders and Assignees

Your assignees, internal stakeholders and leadership team are looking to you for answers, reassurance and recommendations based on real-time employee data and analytics. We encourage you to communicate with all these groups regarding your planned program and policy initiatives. Explain your activity and decisions as they relate to the three other critical areas addressed in this blog: prioritization, setting and managing expectations and policy flexibility.

The Importance of Data as Remobilization Starts

When it comes to anticipating and predicting potential challenges and assessing situations quickly, Mobility programs need accurate, real-time data readily available to ensure their employees’ safety and security. Quality data also provides necessary relocation-related intelligence to analyze provisions like additional temporary housing, destination service provider (DSP) assistance or support related to unexpected delays with household goods shipments.

In the current environment especially, you’ll need to make important business decisions in a matter of minutes or days, instead of weeks or months. That’s why a comprehensive mobility data strategy and roadmap is an essential part of your Talent Management and HR function.

A few tips for success with data and technology:

  • Know where your data is and who owns it
  • Get familiar with your technology solution so that you can access the information you need on a moment’s notice
  • Customize technology dashboards for easy access to the critical information most important to you (e.g., location and status of relocations and assignments, including VIPs)
  • Customize reports so that you can run them with real-time data

Looking Ahead and Staying Prepared

Even when the current crisis situations calm down, avoid becoming complacent. These life-changing global events are teaching everyone important lessons about compassion, preparedness and empathy for assignees as they accept assignments. The guidance and suggestions presented here hopefully serve as a cornerstone to help you recommit and navigate successfully through the remobilization of your workforce.

For more on addressing a crisis like a pandemic, and adjustments you can make to your Mobility Strategy, please visit the Coronavirus Resource Center and read these whitepapers: A Crisis-Planning Roadmap for Mobility Leaders;  Adjusting Talent Mobility for the World Ahead.

Graebel can help you in all these areas now and in the future. Contact us to get started.