Is your global mobility program ready for what’s next? That is not an easy question to answer, given the unprecedented challenges and uncertainty that we have all faced over the last year. And, since much of that uncertainty has followed us into midyear of 2021, many businesses are trying to predict what the immediate future might hold for their organizations. That is why it is critically important for companies to spend the time now to fully examine their business goals, and to pivot their focus as necessary in the face of an ever-changing business environment.
Now is the time to take a deeper dive into what this means for their organizations, and how this will continue to impact their talent management and talent mobility strategies, as well as their workforce cultures going forward.
Even more important perhaps, is the ability of companies to think beyond the recent changes, challenges, and disruptions that have impacted their business, and to look towards the development and implementation of new and improved strategies that will position them for continued success in the months and years ahead.
To that end, VERSA has been working more closely with our clients than ever before to provide them with valuable consultative guidance as their trusted partner and provider of relocation management services. That means continuing to design and implement global mobility programs that reflect changes in the marketplace, while remaining closely aligned to the overall talent mobility goals of their organizations. To do this successfully requires a tight partnership between VERSA and our clients so that we can best help them to navigate today’s terrain.
We believe that global mobility programs have to provide our clients with a measured pathway forward as they begin to ramp their programs back up.
Many of our clients have already ramped their mobility programs back up after either a slowdown or a temporary pause. It is nonetheless important for all companies that intend on resuming their global mobility program to be proactive and start planning now. That way, they will be best prepared for the coming uptick in relocation activity. This is especially true for those companies that hit the pause button on their mobility programs following the COVID-19 outbreak. For many of those companies, this has led to pent up demand in terms of relocation activity, which may lead to a potential surge.
So, here at VERSA, we want to help our clients gear up and be ready for what’s next, while remaining focused on the most ideal ways for them to achieve their global mobility goals amid the changing norms of the workplace and business environments.
CHANGING WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT
Since March of 2020, the global mobility industry has experienced significant disruption. And with significant disruption, often comes big change. One of the most obvious changes has been to the workplace environment, which has seen a huge increase in the number of remote workers. While this trend gained steam in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is sure to have long-lasting ramifications as HR departments have to manage the challenges that come with having a largely dispersed and remote workforce. (See our article on The Future of Remote Work and How to be Prepared for the Shift).
It has also opened up the opportunity for companies to completely reimagine the workplace environment, and to implement new policies that better reflect the evolution of a reshaped company culture.
This is supported by a 2021 report published by KPMG, entitled: “Global Mobility Forecast: Trends in Risk, Talent and Digital.” According to the report, there are many types of workforce models that businesses can put into practice, which can be effective depending on the company culture.
The report points to some of the most popular models and the main characteristics of each, which include:
- Traditional Model: This model has a main office and offers flexibility for some employees.
- Pop-up Model: This model utilizes temporary offices and is considered a supplement to the traditional model set-up.
- Mixed Model: This model has more off-site working and is limited to a defined population.
- Professional Mixed Model: This model has significant off-site working.
- Extreme Model: This model is hyper virtual, with a head office that is for limited activities.
Many companies are offering workplace flexibility to a degree that has never been seen before. As such, companies are placing more emphasis on their work from anywhere policies, which in turn will impact global mobility and how programs are successfully executed. So, as the workplace environment continues to evolve, so will global mobility.
One of the biggest challenges for HR professionals today, continues to be the competing priorities that they must juggle on a daily basis, while preventing other important items from falling through the cracks or landing at the bottom of the proverbial pile. This has been especially challenging within the framework of managing human capital, and the moving goalposts that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
That leads us to ask the question: What are the top priorities for HR professionals today?
An article published by Worldwide ERC, “HR Leaders Identify Top Priorities for 2021,” cites the results from a survey conducted by the global research and advisory firm, Gartner. The article points to the five key priorities that HR professionals are focused on this year that will contribute to business and employee growth.
Those top five HR priorities are:
- Building Critical Skills and Competencies: This priority is an essential element for employee growth through the fostering of educational experiences that develop new skills and professional knowledge. It also includes the important necessity of filling critical skill gaps within organizations.
- Organizational Design and Change Management: This priority stems from the desire to move organizations forward, and the push to align talent and business strategies to achieve improved organizational efficiency.
- Cultivating Current and Future Leadership: This is a critical priority for HR professionals, because it focuses on providing a workplace environment that is conducive to the cultivation of effective leadership wihtin an organization.
- Planning for the Future of Work: With COVID-19 still in the spotlight, and all of the workplace environment changes that have come along with it, remaining focused on the future of work and what that entails will remain a key priority for HR professionals.
- Employee Experience: This will continue to be a top priority for HR professionals. It will touch everything from recruitment and retention to virtual onboarding, to remote working, to talent development and employee well-being.
So, with all of these competing priorities, where does global mobility fit in? The short answer is that it fits in everywhere. All of these priorities should be deeply rooted in an organization’s global mobility program. Not only will this aid in the success of the program, but more importantly, it will allow the organization to stay competitive within the marketplace.
In today’s competitive business environment, there is a fierce war on talent taking place. For that reason, companies have to leverage every tool in their toolbox in order to recruit and retain the best talent in their industries. So, having a robust global mobility program in a vital element that can give an organization a competitive edge.
Right now, businesses are reviewing and improving their global mobility programs, and being much more strategic about how they are structured in order to attract high-skilled top talent to their organizations. As competition heats up, organizations understand the importance of enhancing the employee experience, and so their global mobility program has to be expressly designed with that in mind.
This is something that our clients are always focused on, and they have come to rely on VERSA to help them achieve that goal. We do this by having frequent policy reviews to make them aware of trends, changes, and the implementation of best practices that will keep their global mobility program competitive.
As a means of creating a better employee relocation experience, many companies have moved away from lump sum programs, where the employee is given a specific amount of money to cover relocation expenses. With this type of program, the employee chooses his own service providers and makes the arrangements for facilitating the move. This doesn’t really speak to enhancing the employee relocation experience.
Thus, the main reason why many companies have moved away from the lump sum model is that they realized that it wasn’t creating the employee relocation experience that they wanted to provide.
Instead, managed cap programs have become more popular. These programs are similar to the lump sum program, except that the employer only pays for the employee’s relocation up to a predetermined amount. There is also more support and policy counseling provided to the employee by the RMC (Relocation Management Company) with this type of program, which is an important distinction for enhancing the employee experience.
A managed cap program also allows companies to utilize their relocation budget more effectively through structured cost containment. As such, this program offers a greater benefits to both the employee and the organization.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
As companies begin to ramp their global mobility programs back up, another important issue that is at the forefront of the industry today is supply and demand. This has the potential to impact the entire spectrum of the global mobility supply chain.
For example, many housing markets throughout the U.S. have experienced a spike in activity in spite of the pandemic. Homebuyers have flooded various markets, and the supply of available properties has not been able to keep up with demand. This has created a seller’s market in some of the most sought-after cities in the country. For employees who are relocating to one of those cities, it means that they will be competing against other buyers for the same properties. As a result, they may find themselves in a bidding war against other buyers, and so they may have to be willing to pay above the asking price in order to purchase their desired home.
This is a critical area in which we are actively counseling our clients and their relocating employees, and to help them manage their expectations in terms of real estate costs in different markets. That way they will be more prepared when they arrive for their home finding trips.
One of the reason why this is such a critical area is because housing costs are a huge consideration for employees that are contemplating a relocation. It impacts the decision around the affordability of the move.
And, if an employee is moving into a tight housing market, it is likely that they might not be able to purchase a home within the typically allotted timeframe. If that employee is eligible for temporary housing, an additional cost might be incurred in the event that the temporary housing has to be extended in order to successfully secure a permanent residence. Therefore, current market conditions might necessitate certain policy changes or adjustments, which is why we provide constant policy consultation to our clients.
Likewise, with current supply and demand issues, VERSA is always in communication with our supply chain to ensure that all areas of the relocation process are as seamless and smooth as possible, while mitigating the possibility of any disruptions along the way. In choosing the providers in our supply chain, we make sure that they are equally prepared for the ramping back up of our clients’ global mobility programs.
LOOKING THROUGH THE POST-PANDEMIC LENS
As we collectively look through the post-pandemic lens, it may seem like there are more questions than answers. That is why it is more important now than ever before for companies to have the right relocation management partner to help them weather whatever storms may come their way, and to listen and provide the right guidance every step of the way.
That’s what our clients have come to rely on and appreciate with VERSA.
At VERSA, we pride ourselves in developing programs and solutions that are customized to fit the unique needs of each of our clients. We also recognize that needs often change exponentially, and with little or no warning. So, whether a company needs to ramp their global mobility program back up, dial it back, or completely create or recreate one from scratch, VERSA has the professional experience and expertise to help our clients achieve their talent mobility goals.
Now is a time when many companies are evaluating their global mobility programs and their service providers. Many may decide that their current RMC is no longer the best fit for their organization. Some may be in need of more flexible solutions or want a more responsive partner. Others may be managing their program in-house and will need to outsource it as it gains speed and ramps back up.
Whatever the situation, we encourage those companies to contact VERSA, so that we can work together to build a forward-thinking, sustainable global mobility program.