A Wellness Plan for Your Mobile Workforce 01.20.2021 | Ellie Sullivan

Even though we’re just a few weeks into the new year, it’s easy to already feel overwhelmed.

The cumulative impact of working remotely, fears of a more contagious Covid variant, reinstated travel restrictions and lockdowns have had a numbing effect on our collective sense of well-being. Not surprisingly, employee well-being is at the top of the 2021 HR priority list.

While the global pandemic has impacted everyone, the transferees and assignees we serve are particularly prone to higher levels of stress that can impact well-being. This was recently reinforced to me by a client critique I saw while perusing our colleague recognition site:

“Each of us has experienced this pandemic in our own way, but we have all had to deal with many uncertainties, new sources of stress, unanswered questions and many moments of doubt. With your support, we’ve been able to make a difference for our colleagues that were grounded in Saudi Arabia and I’d like to thank you for all your support and efforts.”

This example magnifies the challenges transferees are facing and just how “essential” our services are, not to mention the vital role of our experienced, resourceful counselors and the importance of a dependable, reliable and fiscally healthy supply chain.

We’ve all heard the adage that relocation is one of the top stressors, but pile on a pandemic, travel restrictions, family separation and a wealth of uncertainty, and transferee well-being can take a big hit. Even virtual assignees face time zone challenges and a never-ending workday that can negatively impact well-being. This is all confirmed in a recent MetLife survey, which claims that expat burnout has increased dramatically in the age of pandemic.

With the broader HR focus on employee well-being, now is the time to consider how you can positively impact your mobile workforce. For each of the following four aspects of well-being, consider these policy and services as you build your wellness action plan:

Physical health: Level of illness, injury and general lifestyle
Always provide a security briefing and reinforce what precautions are being taken to safely provide services. Remember your duty of care to ensure employee safety and make sure they have adequate allowances and services to avoid cutting corners if they are managing a self-move/lump sum. Also make sure insurance and medical services are applicable in the destination.

Financial health: State of personal and family financial security
Make sure the family understands the full scope of the financial impact from the move/assignment. Consider offering all employees a pre-move financial impact analysis–usually a core component of international programs, we offer this service in conjunction with BDO to domestic transferees and are starting to witness an emerging trend.

Social health: Ability to form satisfying interpersonal relationships
Create a social communication strategy to connect employees to peers in the new location; establish a digital community, mentor network, provide “Welcome as a Service” or subsidize membership in an expat club.

Mental health: Condition of psychological and emotional well-being
Make sure assignees/transferees have access to an EAP and that mental health services are provided through global medical insurance plans.

The stresses and challenges of the pandemic may be with us for a while longer. But implementing a Wellness Action Plan will help you build resilience, improve well-being, overcome resistance to relocation and support a more agile workforce to help your business thrive.

If you’d like to brainstorm a Wellness Action Plan, get in touch.

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Written by Ellie Sullivan


Ellie Sullivan, SCRP, SGMS-T, has over 30 years of experience overseeing critical mobility advisory initiatives, including policy benchmarking, proprietary research and tracking global trends and best practices. She is also the creator of our proprietary Optimization Lab format, which brings together Weichert SMEs and client stakeholders for day-long workshops to analyze current program challenges, identify solutions and create a road map to the ideal future state.

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