CapRelo Blog

Understanding Global Assignment Costs

Posted by Amy Mergler on Fri, Nov 16, 2018

Plane flying above skyscrapers-cropped

Confidence in the economy is rising, and with it, the number of companies seeking to establish, strengthen or expand their positions globally is increasing. Often, this involves expatriating talent to fill key positions in other countries. Some companies will also provide global assignment opportunities to expand their employees' knowledge and skills.

Whether your company is well versed or new to managing global assignments, the
cost of them can be daunting. However, when appropriately planned for and managed, global assignments can positively impact a company’s global business goals.

Sending an employee and a family of three on a three-year global assignment could
cost in excess of USD $1 million. So, it’s not surprising that many global companies
believe traditional overseas assignments are cost-prohibitive. Some companies have
reduced, frozen or even eliminated their global assignment programs. However, to
remain competitive, companies still need to place the best talent at the appropriate
locations, and often that talent isn’t available without a global transfer. This is when
the proper management and oversight of relocation costs becomes imperative.

Understanding the Costs

If you’re planning global assignments, there are ways to scale back costs without
compromising operations or impacting employee productivity. Finding that balance
between employee support and cost management to successfully oversee global
assignments is a challenge, but it can be done. Below is a list of some of the expenses
businessman hand working with new modern computer-croppedassociated with a global assignment:

  • Candidate Assessment – Conducted by the company to determine if the employee is the right candidate for the global assignment.
  • Pre-Decision Assessment – Aligns the individual needs of the employee and the employee's family with the business goals of the assignment.
  • Immigration – Obtaining the appropriate documentation for the assignment. The reason for the assignment will dictate the appropriate visa type.
  • Tax Implications – Determining the tax implications of the assignment and responsibilities of both the company and the employee. 
  • Tax Assistance – Providing the employee with tax assistance, which could include consultation; preparation (for both home and host countries); filing (for both home and host countries); tax equalization.
  • Host Country Housing – Providing reasonable and customary rent and utility costs for the employee's housing in the host country according to regional guidelines based on family size and location.
  • Allowances – Ongoing payments made, separate from base salary, during the assignment: 
    • Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) – An allowance or differential paid to the employee for similar goods and services in the host location that they have int he home location based on family size and salary. Intended to cover costs to purchase host country goods and services over those from the home country.
    • Transportation – An allowance for a car for the duration of the assignment, the amount of which may vary by location and family size.
    • Hardship – An allowance paid in addition to salary and COLA for assignments in locations designated as a hardship for the employee based on factors that include potential violence, incidence of disease, medical care quality, geographic isolation and availability of goods and services.
  • Miscellaneous Expense Allowance – One-time payment made, separate from base salary, intended to cover expenses not expressly covered in the Letter of Understanding, like renter's insurance, obtaining a new driver's license, immunizations, taxis, etc.
  • Cultural/Language Training – Provided to the employee and the family to assist in understanding  the host country culture and language.
  • Home Finding and Destination Services – Locating housing in the host country, as well as registering with local authorities and setting up accounts.
  • Departure Services – Home sale, property management, lease termination, etc.
  • Global Household Goods – Transporting (via land, air and/or sea) or storing household goods and personal effects.
  • Temporary Living – Fully furnished housing at the destination location.
  • Repatriation – Return of the employee to the home country at assignment completion.

Managing Global Assignment Costs

Topics: global assignments, global mobility, managing costs, global assignment costs

CapRelo - Integrating Change

Posted by CapRelo on Thu, Nov 08, 2018

Listening and absorbing information is one thing, but acting on it is something completely different. The initiatives we're taking at CapRelo have helped define our key strengths, which include technology, talent and our global footprint. Find out more in our video below!

 

Topics: CapRelo, CapRelo technology, CapRelo Employees, Why CapRelo

Strike an Ideal Balance Between High-Tech & High-Touch Relocations

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Nov 01, 2018

Golden scales isolated over a white backgroundOrganizations should seek out external mobility management partners that offer balanced services, incorporating both smart technology and human touch. Companies and their employees need web-based tools capable of facilitating back-end information management and accounting processes and tracking progress; however, in the event that challenges unfold, more traditional customer service support will allow for the employer and the employee (or even his/her spouse/partner) to contact an experienced professional for assistance.

This balanced approach provides a channel for employees to perform tasks like filing receipts, while also providing access to human representatives who can provide practical, empathetic advice during distressing situations.

MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE

Mobility management services that balance technology and human touch outperform software-only methods, giving both organizations and their employees the power to best manage administrative activities and address unexpected challenges. For businesses that want to make their mobility programs more effective and budget-friendly, selecting the right partner is key. Not every mobility management company—even those that purportedly offer balanced options—can offer cutting-edge technology and high-quality customer service.

When researching potential partners, companies should look for experienced, knowledgeable firms who offer secure technology that is easy to use and understand and easily accessible, for both the employer and relocating employees. In addition to technology tools necessary to facilitate a successful relocation, close attention should be paid to the company’s human-touch customer service options, including a designated point of contact and after-hours availability to address emergency situations.

Balancing High-Tech & High-Touch Relocations

Topics: mobility technology, relocation technology, global mobility management, relocation counselors

Upcoming Mobility Shows and Events - November 2018

Posted by Amy Mergler on Fri, Oct 26, 2018

CapRelo Upcoming Events 2 

We will be attending and/or sponsoring the following upcoming events. If you’re attending, look for us and say hi, because it's a great opportunity for us to stay abreast of the latest global mobility trends, as well as develop and strengthen trusted partnerships. 

 

Greater Pittsburgh Relocation Council Meeting

Date: November 1

Location: U.S. Steel Tower, Pittsburgh, PA

Attendee: Pete Larkin

The GPRC November meeting will focus on the costs associated with household goods moving.

Click here to learn more and register.

 

Delaware Valley Relocation council Fall Summit

Date: November 6

Location: Sky Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Attendee: Pete Larkin

The DVRC wants to "ignite your passion for innovation and ingenuity" at the 2018 Fall Summit. The summit will include industry updates; a keynote address discussing global, national and regional economies; and a game of Relocation Hollywood Squares!

Learn more and register here.

 

Southern California Relocation Council Fall Meeting

Date: November 8

Location: The Reef, Long Beach, CA

Attendee: Patrick Cacho

The final SCRC meeting of 2018 will offer three educational sessions focusing on strategic sourcing, transformation in talent mobility and growing up expat. The meeting will also include networking during a waterside happy hour. 

To learn more and register, click here.

 

Tennessee RELOCATION COUNCIL FALL MEETING

Date: November 8

Location: City Winery, Nashville, TN

Attendee: Christopher Bloedel

The TRC fall meeting will feature a keynote address on creating the future, rather than predicting it; a panel discussion on talent mobility trends, changes and challenges; and mobility games.

Click here for more information and to register.

 

New Jersey RELOCATION COUNCIL FALL Conference

Date: November 14

Location: Bridgewater Manor, Bridgewater, NJ

Attendee: Pete Larkin

The NJRC fall conference will include a keynote address focusing on conscious inclusion; a presentation by The Bag Project, an NJRC community outreach partner; a cultural simulation to give attendees a chance to experience socializing in an international setting; and a round of Mobility Match Game.

Learn more and register here.

 

Corporate RELOCATION COUNCIL of Chicago Annual Business Meeting & 40th Anniversary Celebration

Date: November 15

Location: Pinstripes, Northbrook, IL

Attendee: Christopher Bloedel

The CRC will celebrate 40 years with discussions on the future of the global mobility industry and GDPR compliance and relocation, followed by the presentation of the new board of directors and the Sandra M. Welbourn service award and networking featuring bowling and bocce. 

To find out more and register, click here.

 

Charlotte Metro Area RELOCATION COUNCIL Quarterly Meeting

Date: November 29

Location: Topgolf Charlotte, Charlotte, NC

Attendee: Pete Larkin

Panelists from the corporate, household goods, RMC, tax and real estate fields will weigh in on lump sums and the shared economy in an in-depth discussion during the CMARC quarterly meeting. The event will also include the CMARC annual holiday raffle benefiting Friendship Trays of Charlotte. Separate registration is required for the meeting and to play golf.

Click here for more information and to register.

 

If you can’t attend, please be sure to follow CapRelo on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Topics: CapRelo Employees

Incorporate Technology & Human Touch in Your Global Mobility Program

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Oct 18, 2018

Modern communication technology illustration with mobile phone and high tech background

According to research from the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 22 million Americans relocated in 2017. It is likely many of them leveraged some form of relocation technology to manage their respective moves. After all, mobile users downloaded more than 175 billion mobile applications globally in 2017 to help manage their everyday activities, according to App Annie. This collective zeal for technological convenience has affected how people manage their relocation activities.

While relocation apps and portals ease and expedite some parts of the relocation process, they are not all-encompassing: There are variables that even the most advanced technology cannot address, including the emotional upheaval that occurs when relocation becomes reality.

For this reason, it is important for businesses that manage employee relocation and assignment activities to partner with mobility management providers that take a measured approach wherein technology and personal interaction are both available when needed. This sort of balance increases employee comfort and allows the company to deal more effectively with the unexpected hiccups that inevitably unfold during corporate-sponsored moves.

The Danger of Standalone Technology

Mobile applications and other technology solutions have transformed how people perform common tasks. Often, these tools streamline once time-consuming activities through automated features. Additionally, these features can make it easier for multiple business units involved with employee relocations to keep track of progress and monitor costs. A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study showed that 60 percent of corporate leaders believed online resources would drastically improve existing company relocation strategies. Improving relocation strategies, however, is far different from improving the total relocation experience, including dealing with relocating employees, external vendors and mobility management providers. This is where technology alone can fall short of a balanced approach.

In addition to moving information between the appropriate parties and tracking expenses, businesses must be prepared to address complications that software simply cannot. For example, a technology-only solution will not help relieve the anxiety a relocating employee might feel when faced with managing all of the tasks associated with moving the family and household to a new city. In these moments, human support is critical. Relocation technology solutions, while helpful, offer little aid in such situations. To effectively manage these scenarios, a company must rely on experience, knowledge and empathy. Just one negative relocation experience can make talent less likely to accept an assignment or transfer offer, whether they were directly involved or if they heard about it “through the grapevine.”

Balancing High-Tech & High-Touch Relocations

Topics: relocation technology, mobility technology, relocation counselors, global mobility management, mobility management

Embracing Employee & Community Wellness

Posted by Barry Morris on Mon, Oct 15, 2018

Employee Wellness Team

According to Forbes, happy and healthy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees, and when it comes to salespeople, happiness has an even greater impact, raising sales by 37%. At CapRelo, we're not only devoted to providing the best customer service to our clients, but also to doing right by our team.

Over the years, we have found it pays to take stock in our employees' personal well-being, as well as that of our community. Hosting on-site and off-site wellness and outreach initiatives makes it easier for employees to make better decisions in their own lives. Not only during our busiest seasons, but all year round, making sure folks take a few minutes to think about themselves through various programs is a priority.

CapRelo's Employee Wellness Programs

Employee wellness is best approached with a hands-on strategy. CapRelo publishes a monthly wellness newsletter distributed company-wide, as well as encouraging participation in a monthly wellness webinar series offered by Cigna. Some of the other workplace wellness and community outreach programs we offer include:

Stone Feather Catering1. On-site Farmer’s Market: Chef Pepper Owings of Stone Feather Farm is on-site at the Sterling, VA campus twice a month to offer healthy, organic alternatives to typical lunch options, as well as a variety of local and organic produce. 

2. Weight Watchers Meetings: With our second 2018 session now underway, our first Weight Watchers session was a great success with 28 employees participating and a total loss of 323.4 pounds.

3. Managing Diabetes: We partnered with a Registered Dietitian and Health Educator to develop on-demand training about diabetes prevention and management.

4. Wellness Passport:  CapRelo’s flagship benefit program invites employees to earn points by taking control of their health and offers many resources, discounts and chances to win gift cards and cash rewards, all while staying involved at work. 

Putting an emphasis on our employees' wellness leads to a happier work environment and, ultimately, a more successful company. 

Topics: employee benefits, employee engagement, employee wellness, community, employee productivity

My Way, Your Way, Our Way in Global Mobility Programs

Posted by CapRelo on Tue, Oct 09, 2018

Today, we are joined by guest author, Nigel Ewington from TCO International.

Our WayRecently I got the opportunity to work with a Global Mobility professional who told me a story about a loss of trust she experienced in some global colleagues. She was feeling frustrated and let-down by the actions of some colleagues who had failed to follow the policy they had agreed together. It was made worse by the fact that she had only found out about the actions indirectly.

She was a Global Mobility VP working for a global manufacturing company and responsible for a tri-regional mobility program with key mobility stakeholders in Germany and China. This program was currently occupied with moving some German managers into China. The Mobility function had recently been through a process of drawing up and agreeing on new policy, with a strict set of processes to follow across the globe. Despite seeming to have secured agreement to these new policies from her regional colleagues at a three-way meeting in the USA, the Global Mobility VP had found out that one key area of policy linked to Transportation had been flouted in China. It seemed that the rules had been broken for a German C-suite executive moving to China, and no one had bothered to inform her.

On exploring the story more deeply, I learned that during the meeting itself the Global Mobility VP had presented her ideas about a new mobility policy and asked for reactions. She feared lack of buy-in from German team members, who asked her lots of difficult questions in response to her question. She had not anticipated that the flouting of the policy would come from her Chinese colleagues. At the meeting they had listened respectfully and merely commented that they were “grateful for these directions” and “would do their very best” to implement them. She left the meeting confident that buy-in had taken place. She was now mystified as to why this hadn’t happened.

As I reflected on the story, it seemed to me to be symptomatic of a key challenge besetting global mobility. In this VUCA (Volatile. Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous) world, global mobility professionals themselves have to respond to the shifting needs of their internal customers by collaborating together as one global team with one shared policy across a number of locations. Here complexity is increased by the challenge of cultural differences and distance. They are faced with the challenge of who owns Global Mobility globally, and how to make new levels of global collaboration work

If the ownership of Global Mobility is now dispersed globally, it takes special sensitivity to make sure that the cross-border collaboration is effective. The communication problem our VP faced here was not a lack of clarity nor a lack of respect, but a failure to get real buy-in from her global colleagues.

While it is a universal truth that as human beings we all love to communicate our intentions, this story reveals that we have different cultural assumptions about how to go about doing this. Chinese tend to be higher-context in their communication style, avoiding over-direct use of text and assuming that their important messages will be read between the lines. Inference, body language and situational cues are the tools of the high-context communicator. Germans on the other hand, tend to be lower-context in style, preferring to communicate the critical nature of what they are thinking more directly in the exact text of what they say. They are more direct in challenging others, even when maintaining a good relationship is critical to them. Americans – sitting culturally in the middle of these two other cultures – may misconstrue the Chinese indirectness for agreement and the German critical feedback for aggression. Here, a failure to understand the Your Way of effective communication, and how it may differ from My Way may compromise the formulation of a workable global Our Way for moving forward globally.

The lack of cultural sensitivity revealed in this case was not only a question of communication. I learned that the Global Mobility VP had dug deeper into the exact local context in which there had been a flouting of the Transportation allowance policy. In this organization’s policy, assignees are given a Transportation allowance of USD 1,000 per month used to subsidize transportation needs. Such needs include car rental, use of taxis, etc. In China, due to the regulations, expats are not encouraged to drive on their own, and car rentals tend to come with a driver instead. The German C-suite executive assumed that the car and driver was an entitlement and demanded the full costs to pay for it, although the intention was to subsidize the cost, not pay the full entitlement. Local HR acquiesced and paid from another budget.

If we accept that the Chinese mobility team was aware of the rules, despite having some concerns that they had not voiced at the meeting in the US, why did they simply not follow them? Is this possibly another cultural factor relating to understand the “your way” of global collaboration, or is it simply a lack of professionalism?

Research indicates that cultures have different assumptions about rules vs. exceptions. In all cultures we need to find the right balance between knowing when to follow the rule regardless of the context, and when to adapt the rule according to special circumstances.  Some cultures can be described as “universalist,” where people tend to follow the rule regardless of the context in which it is applied. In “particularist” cultures, on the other hand, rules always need to be reinterpreted to meet the needs of particular people in particular contexts. Very often like China, such “particularist” cultures tend to be also “hierarchical” in style, where people tend to maximize the deference and privileges given to bosses, rather than minimize them.

This “particularist,” hierarchical side of Chinese culture and the flexible approach to rules that ensues can be a source of frustration to “universalist” global partners, but it can provide the sensitive handling of the delicate needs of key stakeholders locally that is critical to the implementation of mobility programs

In reflecting on the learning from this story, it occurred to me that one of the features of this story is the gap between intentions and impact, which is typical of breakdowns in global collaboration. Both sides have positive intentions in what they do and say, but due to a smokescreen of instinctive cultural styles the impact is often negative. To get real buy-in in a world where ownership of global mobility is dispersed across locations, the Global Mobility VP should have avoided leading with a presentation of her own first draft of policy, before getting reactions. Instead she could have framed the intentions of policy, and before getting to drafting rules of guidelines, she should have listened and explored how key stakeholders would implement those intentions in key global locations. In this way she would have learned about some of the cultural differences – both of the “harder,” more visible kind and the “softer,” more attitudinal and values-driven kind – revealed in the case.

I was reminded of the trilemma of focusing on My Way vs. Your Way vs. Our Way when collaborating and building buy-in in a global context. Whereas undoubtedly, to build trust you need to be yourself, authentic and honest. However, the My Way needs to be tempered with awareness and skills in understanding the Your Way of your global partners. Only in this way can you reflect on the best Our Way for turning positive intentions into effective communication, process and policy.

 

About Nigel Ewington

Nigel is a co-founding partner of TCO who has worked for over 20 years with over 100 organizations in the area of developing global agility.  He has developed a deep understanding of what organizations need to do in order to thrive and prosper in a complex, diverse and changing world. This has been honed by his experience of living and working in other countries, as well as his own agility in travelling around the world on assignments where on a week-to-week basis he needs to bring value to many different kinds of people in many different cultural and organisational contexts.

A key underlying gift that Nigel brings to TCO clients is how to get the best out of themselves and others when managing change across geographic and organizational boundaries. Here he has built a strong reputation as a presenter, trainer and facilitator, from the very largest events on the theme of global leadership down to small, compact leadership teams that are looking increase productivity in terms of how they work together. He has been instrumental in creating the signature concepts, models and activities that make TCO original and unique.

 

Topics: global mobility policy, global mobility, global assignments, communication

Upcoming Mobility Shows and Events - October 2018

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Sep 27, 2018

CapRelo Upcoming Events 2 

We will be attending and/or sponsoring the following upcoming events. If you’re attending, look for us and say hi, because it's a great opportunity for us to stay abreast of the latest global mobility trends, as well as develop and strengthen trusted partnerships. 

 

Global HR Conference

Date: October 4

Location: Tower Club, Tysons Corner, VA

Attendee: Pete Larkin

The Global HR event will focus on a variety of topics, including talent strategy and effective HR communication regarding global assignments.

Click here to learn more and register.

 

Minnesota Employee Relocation Council Fall Education Meeting

Date: October 9

Location: Golden Valley Country Club, Golden Valley, MN

Attendee: Christopher Bloedel

The 2018 fall MERC meeting will include networking opportunities and educational sessions on tax reform and cyber security.

Learn more and register here.

 

Worldwide ERC® Global Workforce Symposium 2018

Date: October 17 - 19

Location: Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, WA

Attendee: Christopher Bloedel, Patrick Cacho and Barry Morris

More than 1,800 global mobility professionals from over 50 countries will be attending Worldwide ERC®'s Global Workforce Symposium, the largest global mobility meeting in the world. The symposium includes networking opportunities, educational sessions, an extensive exhibitor marketplace and an Innovation Lab with demos of new technology products and offerings.

Come see us at Booth #314! Click here if you'd like to schedule a meeting with CapRelo during the event.

To learn more about the symposium and register, click here.

 

If you can’t attend, please be sure to follow CapRelo on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Topics: CapRelo Employees

CapRelo's Client-Focused Technology

Posted by CapRelo on Thu, Sep 20, 2018

CapRelo's client-focused technology helped solve a problem for one of our clients and allowed us to be more agile to answer their needs faster. Find out more in our video below!

Topics: CapRelo, CapRelo technology, mobility management company

Brexit's Impact on Global Mobility

Posted by CapRelo on Thu, Sep 13, 2018

Brexit

As Brexit and the impending withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union continues to be a major topic of discussion in the news, Mark Woelfel, CapRelo's Vice President of Global Development in our UK office, explains how it affects CapRelo's global mobility efforts:

While the negotiations of Brexit continue between Westminster and Brussels, we've continued to see the same trends over the past year in relation to its impact into the mobility space. There is a general reluctance towards making long-term talent acquisition strategies until there is more clarity around the terms of the deal, and a reduction by many multinational corporations to make long-term assignments around and into Europe. Since the announcement of Brexit, many countries in the EU (including the UK) have seen a tightening of immigration requirements—not so much in overall policies, but in the application of the regulations—more intense scrutiny of documentation, revisiting of immigration caps and schemes and a generally slower service in processing of individual immigration applications.

Savvy leaders in the mobility space continue to make exhaustive scenario planning around the possible outcomes and have been increasing the use of business travelers and short-term assignments to meet their immediate business objectives. In the UK in particular, we've seen reviews of UK Domestic programs, evaluating their fitness in light of not just changing legislation (such as new GDPR requirements), but for scalability as companies consider the need to utilize more local and regional talent to fill their open positions.

We remain in a "hope for the best and plan for the worst" environment, and CapRelo is assisting many companies in preparing for a variety of eventualities.

Managing Global Assignment Costs

Topics: Brexit, global mobility

New Call-to-action

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all