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Core-Flex Programs: A 3-Minute Primer 05.11.2022 | Ruhi Van Andel

It wasn’t long ago that I assumed Core-Flex was a term reserved for the gym, to be tauntingly yelled by one’s personal trainer. I’m proud to say that I now know better when it comes to this mobility industry buzzword being liberally tossed around in 2022 (and when it comes to choosing kinder personal trainers).

Why are Core-Flex programs trending right now? Because they help organizations to achieve many of the changing priorities that have surfaced alongside the new (post-pandemic) world of work.

Mobile employees want more flexibility and control but need support to manage the new complexities of global relocation. Companies want mobility programs that are cost-effective, streamlined, and easy to administer, but are magnetic enough to attract and retain top talent. Core-Flex mobility policies are being touted as the hero; flexible enough to bend to the needs of your employees, but structured enough to easily initiate and manage.

There is, however, more to this mobility marvel than meets the eye; there are several different ways to structure and administer Core-Flex programs depending on your company’s specific goals, whether you’re trying to control costs, minimize exceptions, or enhance the employee experience. In some cases, the policy won’t be the sole solution – the Core-Flex method may need to be combined with other elements or approaches to achieve the intended outcome.

But first, let’s start with the basics. As the name suggests, this approach has two main components: The Core, and The Flex!

CORE A core set of services are offered to all employees within the policy category. Generally, core benefits are services directly related to compliance – such as immigration, tax assistance – or critical services that can ensure a smooth transition, such as travel to the host location, temporary housing, household goods services, and home sale assistance.
FLEX Flexible benefits can be selected from a predetermined list based on the employee’s unique situation and personal priorities.

It’s a great idea for companies to select flex options based on benefits that are commonly approved as exceptions, such as spousal support, language training, additional temporary accommodations, tenancy management, pet shipment, or school search support.

 

Sounds simple enough, right? Core-Flex programs can, however, get considerably more complex as companies develop multiple versions (or tiers) of core services and available flex benefits to reflect factors such as the employee’s skill level and role, housing need, or destination.

But for the most part, Core-Flex models are agile, adaptable, and can be designed to be employee-driven or business-driven, based on your predefined goals. The flex component can be structured in a variety of different ways, using a monetary cap, a points system, or a menu of eligible benefits. Each of these variances offers unique pros and cons, and the best approach will depend heavily upon the culture of your organization and the needs of your mobile talent.

From what we’ve seen, there are key trends among companies who have implemented a Core-Flex approach successfully, achieving their intended business goal while ensuring a positive experience for their mobile talent:

  • DESIGN: A Core-Flex program can only serve as the mobility marvel it wants to be if it’s designed and administered in a streamlined way that limits any ambiguity. The easier the policy is to understand, the easier it will be to communicate to stakeholders and employees, and the less complex the administration of the program.
  • COMMUNICATION: HR or Mobility Leaders who take a consultative approach to communicating the objectives behind the implementation of this method – and follow up periodically to assess performance – are more successful in developing programs that are embraced by the organization. This communication is also integral to empowering counselors to effectively coach mobile employees through the policy and selection of flex benefits. Early and effective coaching always helps to minimize exceptions down the road.
  • OUTSOURCING: Partnering with an RMC to support the design and management of the tactical components of your Core-Flex program can ensure it runs like a well-oiled machine while freeing up your internal teams to focus on the more strategic elements of your business. As a bonus, some providers may offer access to technology that makes the process easier. For example, Weichert’s Go supports Core-Flex employees by making the selection of benefits as easy and intuitive as retail apps they’re already using. Add to cart, and checkout!
Flexible programs offer more advantages, but only when paired with in-depth counseling to help managers and employees understand how to take advantage of their benefits and fully utilize all the tools available to them. Ultimately, it’s not the right approach for every company; it’s only sustainable for organizations that can support training and communicate with stakeholders on how to use the program and the intent behind each benefit. When successful, employees feel their needs are addressed and report a more rewarding experience.
Jennifer Connell, SCRP, SGMS Vice President, Advisory Services

Looking for more hot tips on developing Core-Flex programs that go the extra mile? Talk to us! And as flexible mobility programs hover at the top of the trends chart for 2022, keep your eyes peeled for more insights from the Weichert team on developing mobility programs that align with the changing needs of the modern mobile employee (but don’t totally suck to manage).

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Written by Ruhi Van Andel

Ruhi is the Digital Content Specialist on Weichert’s Marketing team. Leveraging a decade of experience in writing and marketing, she develops buzz-worthy content for the company’s website and social media channels, as well as for client and colleague communications.

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