Examining Global Mobility Cost Optimization 02.27.2017 | Laura Levenson

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Our recent two-part webinar series on cost optimization drew large corporate attendance, no doubt eager to hear their peers talk at length about their experience collaborating with Weichert to optimize program costs.

While three of our four corporate presenters have had their existing programs in place for many years and the other is just beginning its journey as a newly formed company with a developing global mobility program, all four agreed that program optimization is an ongoing, iterative process.

As you might imagine, attendees had plenty of questions for our panelists. And while they did an admirable job of responding, there were too many to address in our one hour sessions. In this post, we present the unanswered questions with feedback from our panelists.

Part One

To make sure we only use mobility as a tool to support well thought-out business strategies, I find it critical to hold the line on requiring a business case for each assignment, and thus control costs by eliminating unnecessary assignments. Would you agree?

Agree completely. Without a business case, one expat leaves a position and is automatically backfilled with another, even if the intent was for the departing expat to train a local to take his or her place. The business case usually goes hand-in-hand with cost projections.

Who assesses candidate fit? Is this outsourced to suppliers or managed internally?

Though we didn’t address this in our presentation, we don’t outsource this work. Practically speaking, many of our assignees are career expats, and their level of suitability is known from prior assignments.

What would you consider to be the difference between a business traveler policy and a short term assignment policy?

Business traveler guidelines are under 90 days in most markets; however, work permits may still be obtained if the activity planned warrants it. Short-term assignments run from 90-365 days and are similarly, unaccompanied by family members.

Did your stakeholders include the actual transferees? Did you determine what needs were being or not, and determine areas that provided opportunity to both address key needs as well as realize savings and efficiencies?

Yes, we include relocating associates in our stakeholder group. In fact, we often seek out people perceived to have had a really difficult relocation or who are frequent movers to provide feedback. One example: when we introduced Assignee Choice elements into the policy, we asked a group CFO how he and his colleagues would leverage the points to their best advantage. Another example: we learned from assignees that when you tell them they are allowed an air shipment and a sea shipment, they will plan for both. If you ask them if they have any special needs that will require an advance/air shipment, rather than simply carrying excess luggage, they often decline the air shipment. We also discerned a pattern of air shipments going into storage at host until the sea shipment arrived and could be delivered together.

Part Two

Did either company have to pull in additional internal or external resources or staff to focus on these changes?

Boston Scientific: We were already operating in an outsourced delivery model and we relied heavily on Weichert to help administer the new program but no internal resources were added to the team.

Chemours: Same for us. We worked with Weichert and conducted an Optimization Lab to collect benchmarking info as a base for the recommended changes to the policy.

Is your Rotational Program used for U.S. or global moves?

Boston Scientific: Both.

Chemours: Currently, rotational programs are US domestic only for early carrier folks, such as field engineers. We are starting discussions for international fellowships, mostly for employees in global roles, and those are future leaders of the company.

How does your company select employees for an assignment? Do you have a criteria?

Boston Scientific: Employees considered for any assignment/transfer are expected to be strong performers and are generally selected based on whatever the assignment need is and the matching of the required skills sets to be able to deliver on the assignment objectives.

Chemours: Assignees are chosen and assignment types are selected based on business needs and skills needed for that particular assignment.

How do you distinguish between a short term assignment and extended business trip?

Boston Scientific: Extended Business trips are 30-90 days, Short-Term International Assignments are 90 days up to 1 year.

Chemours: Currently there is no Extended Business policy in place. Basically the intent/duration of the travel could determine the assignment at the beginning. Most of our employees
are set up for long-term, handful for short-term assignment (12 mo and below).

How do Boston Scientific and Chemours market their Global Mobility internally?

Boston Scientific: We have an intranet site where we post content to help direct HR and managers. We are presently making changes to it in order to make it even more user friendly and useful.
Given our tenure, Diane and I have developed and maintain strong ties with our global HR business partners who know to reach out to us for any/all global mobility need.

Chemours: At Chemours, it’s all about networking, and building relationships with the HRBP and assignees. We have also conducted training webinars related to relocation policies and processes for internal folks, mostly HRBP and Talent Acquisition folks.

What were the main steps and activities you set up to align you mobility programs with company business goals?

Boston Scientific: Our programs were designed purposefully with the core/flex approach so they will meet all business needs/goals. We consult HR and the business before any assignment/transfer consideration is decided to understand the business driver, and the assignment/transfer goals. In some cases, it is determined that assignments/transfers are NOT the right solution after consulting Global Mobility.

Chemours: In a broad, big picture sense, at Chemours we undertook an internal review of processes and policies within the Total Rewards team, supported by the Optimization Lab exercises to marry what’s market standard with where Chemours–as a newly formed company–wants to go and be. On the day to day level, Weichert is our go-to for policy guidance for all assignees/transferees; internally, Chemours’ GM team is consulting managers, finance and HRBP on relocation policies, programs and cost.

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Written by Laura Levenson


Laura Levenson is a Practice Leader in Weichert Workforce Mobility’s Advisory Services group. She has worked in management capacities for workforce mobility and Big Four firms, and is well-versed in bringing clarity to the most pressing global talent deployment challenges. She brings over 25 years of experience to her role and is a frequent speaker on the mobility conference circuit.

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