The unfortunate certainties of life are death, taxes and, in the case of corporate mobility managers, the never-ending pressure to reduce costs. I am constantly asked by clients to help them achieve that delicate balance between maintaining benefits levels that keep employees engaged and productive while avoiding cost spiral.
Beyond the policy provisions themselves that account for 98% of all costs, clients should examine the processes they use to administer mobility. Every program I review is ripe with opportunities to improve their operational efficiencies. This can be difficult for mobility managers comfortable and familiar with their current processes to acknowledge or see, but often our “outside” perspective can shed light on improvements.
What follows are a number of time tested ideas that might lead to efficiencies and/or cost savings for you: Continue Reading →
The rock band Van Halen will forever be remembered for spandex, teased hair and changing lead singers more often than most people change socks. But there’s another side to VH that you likely never suspected: the band that launched such hit songs as “Hot for Teacher” and “Jamie’s Cryin” pioneered a unique methodology for spotting red flags that can be valuable to today’s corporate mobility managers.
Yes, you read that correctly.
It all starts with M&Ms. Brown M&Ms, to be precise.
For the tenth annual edition of our workforce mobility survey, we took a fresh approach. As you know, the survey’s first decade was all about how workforce mobility was responding to challenging real estate markets across the U.S. and Canada. Our 2016 edition has expanded to a global survey, identifying the top “game changers” that will require mobility professionals to re-examine how they administer their programs in the future.
According to the survey results, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures represent the most prominent workforce mobility game changer, experienced by 55 percent of responding companies over the past year and anticipated by 42 percent in 2016. Unfortunately, while mergers and acquisitions are designed to build scale, expand markets and acquire talent, few organizations anticipate the impact on
In an effort to shed light how trends cascade across specific industries, we have created a series of infographics showcasing key findings filtered by sector. We believe this data provides good insight to how different industries use workforce mobility to achieve their business goals.
Our latest infographic focuses on the consumer products sector. Give it a look (you can click it to enlarge) and, as always, for more information and further breakdown, feel free to contact us. Continue Reading →
Companies intent on post-recession growth need a mobile workforce agile enough to respond quickly to new opportunities and fill talent gaps across their organizations, according to the results of our latest survey.
Now in its eighth year, the Workforce Mobility Survey has become the definitive guide to emerging relocation trends and best practices. This year’s results reflect the input of approximately 220 corporate relocation managers and HR professionals at North American companies across all major industries.
The majority of survey participants acknowledge that workforce mobility remains critical to achieving business and talent development goals, with one-third expecting their mobility volume to increase over the next twelve months. Mobility is even more important among high growth companies, which, the study showed, not only relocate more employees (an average of 432 annual moves versus 280 for other companies) but are also more effective at leveraging mobility as a strategic tool to recruit, develop and retain key talent.
Continue Reading →
Whenever you’re moving large groups of employees with widely varied needs, goals and personal and professional desires, you’re going to have to deal with requests for exceptions to your company’s relocation policy at some point.
Such requests may be common, but they bring a host of questions. How can they be best controlled and tracked? And are they always a bad thing? What if other employees find out what another employee is getting? And what are the most common exceptions that companies typically deal with?
Our latest podcast delivers these answers and more, with informative perspectives on policy exceptions from both the domestic side and global side.
In just 10 minutes, let Jennifer Connell, Director of our North America Consulting practice, and Laura Levenson, Director of our Global Consulting practice, give you the tools you need to better handle exceptions.
Workforce mobility remains a critical strategy for business growth, with 93 percent of companies surveyed by Weichert Relocation Resources expecting their relocation volumes to either increase or hold steady over the next year.
At the same time, these companies are seeking more flexible approaches to relocation to accommodate the broadening demographic of mobile employees and the accelerating speed of business.
Now in its seventh year, our Employee Mobility Survey has become the definitive guide to workforce mobility challenges, emerging trends and best practices. This year’s results reflect the input of approximately 200 corporate relocation managers and HR professionals responsible for over 40,000 annual employee moves.
The survey showed that 36 percent of companies expect their relocation volumes to increase over the next twelve months while 57 percent expect their volumes to remain the same—strong indicators of improving economic confidence and anticipated business growth.
Results of Weichert Relocation Resources’ 2010 Mobility and the Current Real Estate Market survey capture input from close to 200 relocation and HR professionals responsible for over 26,000 annual moves, and reveal that companies are updating their relocation policies with greater regularity to overcome mounting obstacles to employee mobility—-particularly employees who can’t afford to sell their homes or have difficulty securing mortgages.
The fact that companies are updating their policies at all is intriguing, when you consider that as recent as six years ago, some of the policies I reviewed hadn’t been touched in more than a decade. This chiefly because back then, there was little reason to adjust them, since markets were stable and employees were typically ready and willing to move. Today, there are more challenges to contend with, including a recession, the velocity of business change, shifting workforce demographics and depreciating home values.
According to our results, 90 percent of respondents changed their policies over the past year to control costs and motivate employees, indicating that despite the current economic picture, companies still realize the importance of maintaining a mobile workforce.
Companies are also being more strategic in managing their programs. Rather than casting a wide net of similar benefits for all mobile employees, they’re taking a more targeted approach, offering specific packages to specific employees and new hires to convince them to accept moves.
Among the strategies being used to help employees overcome real estate-related difficulties, 75 percent of respondents provide alternatives to traditional homeowner benefits, either formally or on a case-by-case basis. Some of these include offering delayed home sale benefits or delayed home purchase or allowing homeowners to become renters. Additionally, 33 percent added or increased loss-on-sale assistance, with the most common maximum dollar cap rising to $50,000.
Our survey also found that pre-decision programs—-seen as an emerging trend in WRRI’s 2008 survey—-are gaining in popularity, with 65 percent of companies currently offering pre-decision and 11 percent planning to offer it this year. This shows a more proactive approach on the part of companies, as pre-decision programs can help gauge the probable success of a relocation before any significant financial investment is made.
Additionally, our survey found that:
— Companies are wresting greater control of the home sale and marketing processes to minimize costs and avoid inventory. Seventy-one percent of respondents enforce list price guidelines for employees, with the most common guideline, implemented by 65 percent of respondents, restricting employees from listing at more than 105 percent of the appraised value or broker’s price opinion. The study also found that 70 percent of respondents require employees to work with company-approved brokers, while 96 percent will evaluate offers below the appraised value of their employees’ homes.
— Forty-two percent of companies are adopting tiered levels of home sale benefits for their employees, up from 25 percent since last year’s survey. At the same time, fewer companies are offering employees only a traditional guaranteed buyout program, down to 25 percent in 2010 from 34 percent in 2008. In most cases, the guaranteed buyout is reserved for senior-level executives.
— Although companies strive to avoid policy exceptions, market volatility and lengthy home marketing periods are making more employees hesitant to move, forcing companies to offer more and greater exceptions. The most common, cited by 42 percent of respondents, is extended temporary living.
WRRI will present the complete 2010 survey findings during a free webinar for corporate relocation professionals on Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 2:00pm ET. To register, click here.
Most relocation managers shudder at the prospects of making exceptions. But while stepping outside policy guidelines typically increases costs, exceptions don’t totally deserve the bad rap. Managed correctly, they can be an effective part of your recruitment and talent management strategy.
Sure, exceptions have their downside. For one thing, they set a precedent. People talk. If Jimmy in accounting got a sizable amount of loss-on-sale assistance, chances are he’s going to tell Dave in marketing when it’s Dave’s turn to relocate. And Dave’s going to want the same. Before long, your employees will start to think everything’s negotiable.
Which us brings us to the next point: Exceptions can undermine the integrity of your policy. You work hard to make your policy a sound, well-constructed vehicle for achieving your workforce mobility goals. But if employees figure they can write their own ticket, they’ll have little regard for it.
That said, exceptions do offer some advantages.
For one thing, they allow for flexibility. And in these challenging economic times, that can be the difference between landing the talent you need or losing them to competitors.
They make you and your company look like heroes. By addressing and accommodating your employees’ unique needs, you make them feel infinitely better about your company and the relocation, which boosts your retention efforts.
They make an outdated policy more effective for today’s challenging market. These days, with the gulf between what employee homes are worth and what employees think they’re worth ever-widening, you may, at times, need to offer additional benefits to overcome employee reluctance to relocation. In such cases, execptions can give your company an edge.
As a rule, exceptions should be viewed as less about bending to individual whims and more about the big picture; portraying your company as being flexible to secure the talent you need to achieve your business goals. You should also create a formal approval process which requires employees to justify the need for any exceptions they are requesting. This will make them think about how their request might impact their teams and the company.
In today’s economic environment, is it easier to say “no” to employee requests for exceptions to policy, based on the fact that they should be acutely aware of just how tough these times are? Or is it more difficult, because some employees are facing greater challenges in the form of lost equity and over-crowded markets?
One of our clients, a global energy company moving over 2,000 employees annually, took an interesting approach when exception requests started skyrocketing. They adjusted their exception request form, adding copy that asked employees to consider, in light of the current global economy, how the exceptions they were requesting might impact their teams and the company.
They also added a section to the form that asked employees to give their reasoning and justification for why the company should bear this additional expense for them.
Minor steps, to be sure, but steps that have nonetheless proven effective, according to our client contact: “It has helped, because it makes people think about it before they ask for it. In the past, it might have been all about them and what they thought everyone else was getting. But it’s different today.”