To assess the ways our world has changed since the pandemic, I spent the last month chatting with experts from around the mobility industry about the things they’ve learned about work, family and even themselves during this odd and uncertain time. The results have inspired a series of blog posts.
For the third installment, I spoke with Laura Levenson, GPHR, GMS-T, Mobility Consultant and Global Practice Leader in Weichert’s Advisory Services group. Much like the corporate client contact I spoke with, Laura had both personal and professional observations as well as some that blur the boundaries between the two.
An ounce of prevention: As a respected industry expert and mobility consultant, Laura is frequently called upon to provide insight and data to support the strategic decisions of Weichert’s clients. In the months since the COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions began, our relocation Consulting and Advisory group has been engaged by numerous companies seeking to ensure the safety of their employees and the sustainability of their organizations.
While working through these engagements, Laura has noted that the most successful companies are those that synergize their HR and Global Mobility practices into a cohesive Talent Management strategy. These organizations tend to recognize the complicated nature of their Mobility programs ranging from basic duty of care all the way to the benefits accruing to the company in providing an excellent employee mobility experience, and have elevated the traditional roles of HR and Global Mobility towards achieving their goals in these areas.
There’s always room to improve: Even those with well-defined duty of care programs can stand to refine them further. As important as policies are in enabling the company to meet duty of care standards, knowing the location and circumstance of each individual employee at any moment in time is critical in being able to offer appropriate options. More and more companies are seeking tools (like our Weichert Global Organizer business traveler tracking app) and techniques to help them improve their programs in these areas.
Flexibility is key: While Core-Flex policies have been an increasing trend in mobility in recent years, the pandemic has really underscored their benefits. The ability to extend temporary living, provide additional allowances, address emerging V&I issues and more requires flexibility and the infrastructure to support it. Companies already using Core-Flex programs tend to be able to do it with greater speed and efficiency.
Less might really be more: For many companies, lockdown has led to deeply assessing their criteria for evaluating the strategic need for each move and fine tuning their programs accordingly. Companies are asking themselves questions like “Will a local hire work for this engagement or do we need to import the expertise we’re looking for?” or “Is it prudent to use longer term assignments in lieu of multiple extended business trips to avoid lengthy quarantine issues?”.
It’s always good to have a Plan B: The companies we’ve worked with who’ve had the greatest success of all are those who, like our own, were early adopters of remote work arrangements. Weichert has had remote work policies in effect for over 15 years and has had a tested pandemic/disaster plan, complete with infrastructure, in place as well. This has allowed us to continue to support clients seamlessly in a variety of weather-related disasters in the past, but also made it much easier to shift the entire company to remote working during COVID-19.
Culture is critical: The strength of a company’s culture sets the tone for the workforce in prevailing through a situation like this. If employees felt very connected to their company culture before COVID, it has been much easier for them to stay that way. Individuals draw strength from these connections that can sustain them if they are having difficulty coping or experiencing productivity issues. Likewise, companies who have always emphasized work-life balance recognize that during crises, employees have families and loved ones to worry about in addition to their work and accommodate those needs as much as possible.
An attitude of gratitude goes a long way: Laura’s training as a yoga instructor certainly helps with introspection, but she believes that most people can learn a lot about themselves in times of adversity. While (almost) no one enjoys a crisis, it helps to stop and think that while most are dealing with similar issues as you are, many people have it much worse. Approaching a difficult situation with a sense of gratitude for what you have can keep feelings of hopelessness in check and help get you through it successfully.
Laura has also learned that while frequent business travel can sometimes be stressful, she’s looking forward to the time when she can meet with clients in person again to help them develop optimal solutions for the talent mobility challenges that they face today and may face in the future.