CapRelo Blog

Duty of Care: Planning for Emergencies

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Feb 14, 2019

Computer keyboard and multiple social media images-1In recent years, a number of large-scale international emergencies have unfolded. Six major hurricanes rocked the globe in 2017, taking thousands of lives and causing billions in damage. Many nations around the world are also struggling with prolonged challenges: armed conflicts, health crises, poverty, political turmoil and more. Each of these challenges adds a layer of complexity to corporate mobility and duty of care.

Before enterprises can effectively develop and deploy systems for keeping employees safe while working globally, they should identify the specific risks that may be involved. This depends largely on location. For example, countries such as Switzerland, Norway and Singapore—which rank among the safest expatriate destinations in the worldpose different security challenges than countries like South Africa, Brazil and Nigeria, where there are historically more serious hazards.

Once these specific risks are identified, employers must create flexible emergency plans; must communicate them effectively to their employees; and then give them access to the appropriate resources they would need in case of an emergency.

It is also essential to establish an effective system for tracking employees on global  assignments. To ensure employee safety and well-being, employers need to know where
they are and what they are doing. Whether a company uses an Excel spreadsheet or an
online tracking software system, the data must be available instantly, 24 hours a day, from
any location in the world, to reference during emergency situations.

Ensuring a Safe Employee Relocation

A reliable mobility management partner can help businesses develop and maintain high duty of care standards. With technology and services to assist mobile professionals all over the world, mobility management providers help keep relocated talent safe and achieving optimal productivity. For employers, managed corporate mobility services can connect them with real-time data that leads to groundbreaking insights about their global mobility programs.

Understanding Duty of Care

Topics: duty of care, global relocation, global mobility policy, global assignments, global mobility

Selecting the Right Candidate for a Global Assignment

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Jan 17, 2019

Taking the time to screen potential expatriates prior to a global assignment can go a long way to ensuring assignment success. Find out more:

Selecting the Right Candidate Infographic 

Topics: global relocation, global mobility, global assignments, candidate selection

Duty of Care During Corporate Mobility

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Jan 10, 2019

Global MobilityMillions of American professionals relocate annually, many taking on exciting international assignments. U.S. businesses are just as excited about these global relocations. After all, global mobility can lay the groundwork for expansion and revenue gain.

But businesses must understand that expatriates can encounter serious safety hazards during and after relocation. Companies organizing and managing global mobility and assignment processes are responsible for addressing these dangers and ensuring employee safety.

Duty of care encapsulates these obligations. Both businesses and relocating employees should clearly understand what duty of care constitutes before navigating employee mobility strategies.

Corporate Responsibility During Employee Relocation

Duty of care, in the context of corporate mobility, is the obligation to protect those under your charge. Organizations sending teams abroad must take on this complex responsibility.

Businesses must also consider employee well-being, which includes not only physical safety but also emotional and mental wellness. Moving to a foreign country can be a stressful experience, especially moving to one with an entirely different culture than what you’re used to. Businesses should address this issue by providing comprehensive resources to help relocating employees cope with the stressors that accompany international assignments.

With specific employee safety and well-being concerns in mind, companies can begin to formulate strategies to address them in a formal duty of care policy that should be incorporated into business travel and global mobility policies.

While there are legal obligations that companies must meet, they should go beyond what’s legally required of them, not just for the employees’ sake, but also for the success of the company. Relocation is an investment, and providing for the productivity and safety of those who relocate will protect and nurture that investment.

But what does that strategy entail? Providing access to reliable mobility vendors is a good start. Employees moving abroad should be able to connect with mobility management companies and other vendors involved in the relocation process.

Employers should also consider offering property insurance to their relocating talent. Although this may not be a legal requirement, providing this option sends the best message about a business and its brand: We recognize what you, our employee, and your family are undertaking for the benefit of our organization, and we will do our part to allay concerns about your belongings during and after your move.

How to Find Assignment Success

Even employees who are seasoned travelers and excited about embarking on global assignments can experience nervousness and may have trouble living abroad and adapting to unique cultures and customs in the long term.

Adjustment is critical for assignment success. Employees who do not adapt well to their new surroundings may underperform. Anything an employer can do to prepare relocating employees for any initial culture shock, such as offering language and cross-cultural training before the move, can help them immerse themselves in their new communities sooner with greater ease.

Employers can also ensure their assignment policy includes provisions that address duty of care and promote assignment success beyond basic personal safety, such as:

  • Evaluating health and medical care laws and customs in the host location to ensure the medical insurance offered to employees and their families is sufficient.
  • Ensuring employees' personal information is secure during the relocation process.
  • Providing additional benefits tailored to the assignment location, like winter driving courses for locations in cold climates.

Understanding Duty of Care

Topics: duty of care, global mobility, global mobility program

CapRelo Technology: One Platform, One System

Posted by Amy Mergler on Tue, Jan 08, 2019

CapRelo's One Platform, One System concept is the core of our technology offering. It presents a seamless experience for our clients, their transferring employees, our employees and our supply chain. Find out more in our video below!

Topics: CapRelo technology, global mobility, Why CapRelo, CapRelo

The Cost of Mismanaged Global Assignments

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Dec 20, 2018

Close up image of businesswoman with 3d images of devices in her handsGlobal assignments that are mismanaged result in higher costs that could be avoided and also could result in an unsuccessful assignment if the employee is not able to focus on the goals of their assignment. A well-managed assignment includes pre-assignment discussions with the employee that align with expectations of both the employee (and accompanying family) and the business.

If employees feel unsupported and/or incur financial losses, their dissatisfaction could carry over in both their professional performance and job satisfaction. Sometimes that's a temporary situation that improves over time; with other times, it causes key talent to leave an organization. Either way, the consequences can be costly:

  • Loss of Productivity – Whether an employee temporarily underperforms due to challenging circumstances or a key position becomes vacant because top talent leaves, productivity suffers, and you run the risk of missed returns.
  • Loss of Human and Intellectual Assets – When employees leave the organization, either voluntarily or involuntarily, they take their knowledge with them. If not restricted by non-competition clauses, they could take that knowledge to a new job with a competitor.
  • Negative Public Relations – When high-profile employees leave a company, it can become news. Depending on how much information is made public about the situation, there's always a chance of speculation and negative attention.
  • Cost of Recruitment – Recruiting, hiring and training key talent is expensive and time consuming. When that compromises business operations on a larger scale, the potential cost to the company increases.

A successful global assignment is more likely to result in a high-performing, productive employee who remains loyal to his or her employer. Combined with good assignment cost management, this is exactly what companies should strive for to maximize the return on their investment.

Managing Global Assignment Costs

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

Making a Global Footprint

Posted by Barry Morris on Thu, Dec 13, 2018

global footprint

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of America. That’s almost 2 billion people. To get access to this growing class, companies may need to expand to new shores.

There are many opportunities and benefits that come with doing business abroad. Government incentives and foreign investment opportunities aside, doing business internationally also offers a competitive advantage when it comes to technology, industry ecosystems and talent. Access to larger, more diverse talent pools offers companies unique advantages in terms of increased productivity, advanced language skills and diverse educational backgrounds.

And while the prospect of international may seem daunting, having a global partner to help you will ease those worries.

At CapRelo, we can help because we’ve expanded too. Over the years, we’ve grown from our Virginia operation to having a true tri-regional presence in Canada, China, Germany, India, Malaysia, Singapore and the U.K. Establishing these bases of operations was key to understanding and meeting our clients' global mobility needs, and sets CapRelo apart as a global mobility management company.

Whether your company wants to expand its horizon into a new market or secure the hottest global talent from anywhere else in the world, we can help. We deliver quicker data, quicker answers, so you can make smart talent decisions faster.

Streamline Success

Topics: global mobility, global mobility management

Controlling Global Assignment Costs

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Dec 06, 2018

Business man pulling a big green dollar sign concept on background

Finding a balance between employee support and cost management when overseeing global assignments is a challenge, but it can be done. Most importantly, it's imperative to properly plan for assignments and actively manage expenses.

No two global assignments are identical, so rather than creating a one-size-fits-all solution, you may opt to evaluate some custom-fit solutions that take the bigger picture into consideration to create opportunities to save. In addition, you may consider these measures to help manage and reduce global assignment costs.

Assignment Cost Control Measures

  • Establish goals and select the appropriate candidate for the assignment. To avoid the cost of a failed assignment, one of the most important steps is to properly plan your business goals and objectives to screen candidates and identify the best talent for the assignment. Candidates can be assessed not only on their job skills, but also on their ability to manage and adapt to a different culture and environment.
  • Review your assignment program regularly. There may be areas in your program where minor adjustments can be made to reduce costs without negatively impacting employees. For each possible adjustment, analyze how it will impact the relocation process and how it will affect your employee's productivity during the assignment.
  • Regulate cost-of-living allowances. There may be a significant difference between the costs of living in originating and host countries. Set allowances that are applicable to their respective locations, and recalculate cost-of-living subsidies regularly to reflect financial fluctuations in the host country's economy. Use a salary cap when calculating the COLA to further contain costs.
  • Reevaluate host country housing guidelines. To control housing expenses, employ more conservative standards to determine guidelines for host housing using the most current data available. Remember to review and adjust the guidelines regularly to account for local real estate value and currency fluctuations.
  • Lower house-hunting trip reimbursements. International airfare, transportation at the location, as well as lodging and food can be expensive. Reduce these costs by limiting the number of days allocated for these trips. Unless necessary for school enrollment, limit trips to the employee and spouse/partner only.
  • Reassess the costs of language training, cultural training services, home-finding and familiarization trips. Though these services are often crucial to an employee's successful assignment, you may be able to do some research and compare providers to determine if there are more cost-effective ways to provide them, such as providing web-based language training. Pay attention to service quality and client satisfaction to ensure you make both cost-effective and responsible decisions.

Managing Global Assignment Costs

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

Understanding Global Assignment Costs

Posted by Amy Mergler on Fri, Nov 16, 2018

Plane flying above skyscrapers-cropped

Confidence in the U.S. 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

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

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