Mobility Strategy: Planning for the Unexpected FAQ

March 30, 2020

Woman working at desk on laptop.

On March 20, mobility professionals from around the globe joined industry experts and our leading strategists as they discussed practical applications to help manage mobility functions through the unexpected. During the webinar, participants posed timely questions regarding the current and future state of mobility. We’ve put together this blog to share the discussion with you.

We began our session by asking how many participants were prepared for the COVID-19 crisis. 62% of our participants shared they were unprepared, while 32% were. Below we share the most common questions asked during our Q&A portion of the webinar:

What are other companies doing with intern programs?

Many companies remain in the decision making mode regarding how to proceed with their intern programs. As most programs begin in the summer, the busiest season for mobility, the majority of companies are focused on the immediate needs of employees currently on assignment. At time of publishing, we have not seen cancellations to intern programs though several clients are exploring how to effectively run virtual programs.

In the next few weeks, once immediate needs have been addressed, we expect most of our clients to begin strategically planning for their intern programs. Current virtual intern programs promote mentorship, high levels of productivity, educational opportunities and induction of company culture through virtual tools like Zoom, WebEx and other online meeting applications that allow for face-to-face interaction. The success of intern programs will continue to be important to the talent pipeline and will diminish the loss of talent as the hiring function regains momentum once this crisis is subdued.

The majority of our population are international local hires. How are your clients handling onboarding? Are they postponing their programs or implementing remote programs?

Similar to intern programs, a growing trend has been virtual onboarding. By using online meeting tools, new employees may connect with their new teams and managers at a more personal level. Virtual tools allow employees to build relationships and communicate more effectively by reading body language and facial expressions. This enhanced relationship fosters the continuation of company culture when connecting in person is not possible.

Do members of a Mobility taskforce typically participate in other company emergency response teams?

Incorporating providers into your company emergency response teams creates a mindshare for best practices and how similar companies implement responses. Internally, key functional leaders on the task force incorporate mobility into other business resources. Through this participation the mobility team is elevated and serves as a significant resource for both mobile employees and those employees impacted in crisis situations. Mobility teams are seen as subject matter experts within their own company due to their wide breadth of knowledge. For example, the mobility team can provide fast and relevant insight into tax, immigration, and employment implications during emergencies due to their in-depth knowledge and already established relationships with service providers in each field.

How are you communicating what your supply chain is doing? 

Constant and consistent information is key. We maintain ongoing communication with our partners during uncertain times. We immediately disseminate the most pertinent and up-to-date information to both mobile employees and clients. We fully understand policy nuances and implement policy adjustments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our DSP partners are there with our transferees and their families on the ground and established relationships between transferees and DSP provide comfort to families during uncertain times.

In addition, we maintain active communication via our resource center, Managing Mobility Through Coronavirus, that is updated weekly to report on service chain implications of the pandemic.

What key information are you communicating to transferees or assignees?

Both Graebel and our partners serve as an extension of each of our clients, serving our clients’ most valuable assets: their employees. We ensure mobile employees understand local laws and regulations. We work closely with the Graebel Partner Alliance to understand the most up-to-date knowledge in any given location. Further, we communicate any policy changes or exceptions provided by each client so the employees feel supported during the pandemic.

We maintain clear, ongoing communication, focused on facts to provide recommendations based on current information. When possible, we communicate face-to-face, virtually of course, to bring the very human level of care to this emergency situation.

Do you see the peak relocation season shifting to the end of the year or to 2021?

Globally, as travel and quarantine restrictions evolve, as well as the economic impact of the pandemic, it is difficult to determine or identify trends regarding when the peak season may take place. The nature of each company’s business plays a key role in determining the trajectory of mobility. For example, healthcare companies continue to increase volume while the travel industry has been significantly impacted by restrictions. School closings also factor into the mobility seasonal trend. Historically, the peak season occurs between June and August due to extended breaks for many school systems; however, with the closings of schools due to local quarantine mandates, this may shift the decision to relocate for many families.

Are your clients halting U.S. domestic moves?

While the majority of our clients have continued with their U.S. domestic initiations, ever-changing rules implemented by each state, and perhaps on the federal level, may impact this trend. The nature of each client’s business plays a large role in maintaining business as usual processes versus business as unusual initiatives.

How are clients managing the immigration risk for employees who are stranded in countries due to temporary travel mandates and for those who want to work but don’t have the proper authorization to work?

Mobility teams have leveraged their immigration service providers to stay on top of evolving regulations. The immigration risk in each country varies and must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. During the current pandemic it may not be possible to repatriate an employee and their family based on different country regulations though it is vital to explore other options. For example, a client may move an employee and their family from their current location and into another country to improve their situation, even if it is not their home country. Historically, governments have not been forgiving of overstays. It is vital that mobility teams track efforts to follow immigration deadlines in order to defend overstays as this situation continues to unfold.

Listen to the discussion in its entirety here.

 

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