Learning & Development

Never Underestimate the Impact a Relocation Has on the Whole Family

Global mobility is playing a more critical role in organizations that are employing all types of mobile employees. International mobility is now being seen as an opportunity for potentially the entire workforce, not just the chosen few.

Global Mobility Executive’s 2022 report reveals that international assignments remain the most popular type of move, but the number of permanent transfers is steadily increasing, particularly in the tech sector because of skills shortages in regions or countries. Eleven percent of jobseekers have relocated for work in the past 10 years.

When relocating employees, many employers will consider and support the physical logistics of the move, but many downplay the physiological stresses and strains on employees and their families. Relocation can turn a whole family’s world, from spouses to children to pets, upside down.

There’s a gap between employer needs and employee expectations, and this gap can be filled by organized global mobility teams and technology.

Managing the Transition for All

When relocating employees, employers commonly focus on obvious support such as security briefings when the relocation is to a high-risk location. Even in these situations, the focus is largely on the employee, not the family.

Thankfully, businesses are now placing more importance on the family unit rather than just the assignee’s well-being, as the investment cost of appropriate cultural and welfare support is far outweighed by the cost of a failed relocation.

Tracking work authorization and tax briefings, delivery of key vendor services, finding jobs for spouses and new schools for children, local healthcare offerings and inoculations, and documentation for beloved pets are just a few examples of what global mobility teams use tech to handle.

Relocation is no easy task, and there’s a great deal that happens in every move. Global mobility tech is therefore essential to support the efficient delivery of these services to the entire family.

Keys to a Stress-Free Relocation

Employers that make their relocation policies easy to understand and wholly inclusive are a step ahead. Use simple terminology and clear language to ensure all family members can understand what they’re signing up for. Defining benefits and allowances that are flexible enough to be inclusive for all is also critical. This isn’t about policy exceptions but rather providing enough flexibility so the policy is welcoming to a family, a single parent, or same-sex partners.

Moreover, relocation procedures should clearly indicate how instructions in the policy should be carried out and ensure these rules are equitable and easy to adhere to. Where possible, a relocation policy should present employees with options, giving them a sense of ownership over the transition.

Essential Mobility Guidance

Global mobility tech is critical to delivering the vast range of tasks and support solutions for the increasing range of relocation types. Tech frees essential time for mobility teams to build a personal connection with employees and their families, such as asking if any emotive issues or worries exist, whether the children have special needs, whether the family fully considered the healthcare provisions in the host location, and more. These nuances are rarely visible and often only are shared when a genuine rapport is built.  

Additionally, employers should be mindful to communicate tactical lifestyle changes, including if medicines will be scarce or very expensive in the new location and what their commute journey will entail. For example, commute times in Manila are often measured in hours as opposed to minutes, which is vastly different from how they’re tracked in North America. Cultural differences are often greatly underestimated, so encouraging the family to utilize cross-cultural and language support services is wholly advised.

Why Relocation is Never an Easy Gig

Mobility teams can struggle to provide consistent and personalized service to employees when their time is used up performing repetitive admin tasks. Relocation costs have been rising dramatically in recent times with double-digit inflation. For relocation policies underpinned by a lump sum budget approach, has this been fully appraised? To top it off, economic pressures are taking their toll, as mobility teams are under pressure to do more with less.

Certain support services like cultural training can be seen as nonessential by naive employers, but to fully embrace a culture of mobility, organizations need a global mobility construct that keeps the full range of personalized mobility support on the table. A mobility team’s advice and guidance to the business must be heard, though it can be a tough discussion at a time when businesses are seeking to trim costs.

Running such scenarios with spreadsheets and legacy technology is slow, expensive, and time-consuming and can expose businesses to risks. Being able to dynamically produce a timely cost estimate through tech that’s automatically updated with the latest market pricing is essential in today’s world.

Global Mobility Technology Bridges the Gap

Being globally mobile is often beneficial for finding new and better opportunities. Employers need to prioritize the whole family to retain employees, and tech-enabled global mobility platforms exist to make relocation easier than ever. These solutions also give employees self-service access to key documents and data, lay out essential actions (with automated reminders), and provide regular service status updates, reducing their stress levels and ensuring they can work where and when the business needs them most. This results in happier mobile employees who are more engaged in their core job duties and likely to stay with the company. Whether your business handles 50 moves a year or 5,000, using the right technology to manage your global workforce adds value by tracking real-time expenses and measuring return on investment.

Gareth Daviesbrings more than 23 years of experience to his role as VP of technology solutions at Equus Software. Davies’ global mobility career started with 10 years managing expatriate tax programs with the Big Four accounting firms. Leveraging his degree in international human resource management, he switched to managing in-house cross-border programs for respected employers within the finance and consulting industry, spending 7 years as the head of mobility for one of the United Kingdom’s iconic aerospace/manufacturing sector employers.

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