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Global Mobility & Coronavirus: Building Resiliency for Uncertain Times

Many global Mobility professionals are at a crossroad with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They’ve addressed the most immediate need: Ensuring the safety and well-being of assignees and their families. Temporary actions ranged from swift evacuations to work-from-home arrangements to re-assignment to another, less-affected country.

Now, Mobility professionals are tackling another critical question as the outbreak continues and evolves from location to location around the world: What is the criteria for determining when – or if – a transferee returns to his or her assigned location or workplace?

Our Graebel consultants have been hearing this a lot as we talk with global Mobility teams and offer personalized guidance about the coronavirus situation and other challenges. The “when or if return” answer varies by organization, but all Mobility teams can focus on balancing their company’s culture and duty of care with business continuity requirements.

For example, what’s the on-the-ground situation and the company’s operational plans in that impacted marketplace? How long can the business afford to keep an assignee in a temporary situation? What’s the assignee’s personal circumstance and professional development plan? While these may add more questions to the mix, both your company’s culture and business needs must be weighed.

Plan for the longer-term
We also pose a longer-term challenge: How can your program be even more resilient to manage both the company’s day-to-day Talent Mobility needs and the next uncertain event? This involves Mobility teams understanding and defining their strategic roles and responsibilities in supporting business imperatives and in partnering with cross-functional teams like HR, risk management, finance and accounting.

In fact, to help you determine and implement this longer-term Mobility perspective and strategy, we are hosting a complimentary webinar on Friday, 20 March about how you can utilize various field-tested tools and industry insights to navigate both the coronavirus outbreak and other crises. Click here to register.

If you take necessary time to create and lay foundational blocks, it will greatly pay off in your journey to building a stronger Mobility program that addresses today’s coronavirus situation and future challenges – whether it’s another public health issue, natural disasters, social unrest, regulatory changes, or other world headlines that spell uncertainty.

Maintain short-term measures
We’re also mindful of the immense Mobility challenge at hand. Since we remain in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, here are four basic areas that seem to be working for global companies:

  • Communicate regularly. In uncertain times, consistent, regular communication can help reassure assignees that you’re monitoring their situation and related implications for them and their families. It may also help retain key talent who may be questioning what’s next for them and when.
  • Stick to the facts. Like many of you, we’re following guidance from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and International SOS, as well as local health authorities. Where possible, use these expert sources to guide and explain your decisions. This can help clarify and debunk any misinformation that’s causing unnecessary worry.
  • Flex to address employee needs. As the outbreak continues, companies are relooking at certain HR policies as part of their duty of care. For example, some are implementing or discussing extended sick leave policies, especially in highly affected or quarantined areas and service-related industries. Be open to solutions for your assignees.
  • Continue precautionary measures. Of course, most companies have taken preventative steps to ensure employee safety and business continuity. These include non-essential travel restrictions, work-from-home arrangements, meeting/conference cancellations, and making sanitation products readily available in the workplace.

What else are you doing or concerned about? I look forward to hearing from you and discussing longer-term Mobility strategies during our webinar on Friday, 20 March. Click here to register.