Mobility’s Best Balancing Act: Cost vs. Care 06.6.2024 | Jennifer Connell

Companies face increasing pressure to balance cost efficiency with employee care in today’s dynamic business landscape, especially in their global mobility programs. While these companies tighten their budgets, they also recognize the importance of prioritizing employee well-being to attract and retain top talent.

Earlier this year, in our 2024 Trends Webinar, we explored the challenge today’s employers face when it comes to striking the delicate balance between cost control and ensuring that employees are well-taken care of throughout their relocation experience. More than that, panelists emphasized that striking this balance means understanding how to meet employees where they are and addressing what they need versus just providing a blanket solution (specifically, a suite of ill-fitting, underused benefits that don’t offer the best ROI).

Why do cost pressures feel extra intense right now?

Mobility programs have taken a real hit this year as costs have increased for many critical components of the relocation process, particularly for international assignments. Immigration fees have seen the biggest spike, rising 3-5%, primarily due to the rising costs of human capital and technology/security enhancements. As of April of this year, H1 B visa and petition fees spiked by 70%, and we’re expected to see more fee increases like this over the next year and around the world!

As home purchase interest rates surpass 6%, another component of the relocation process becomes significantly more financially precarious for the average mobile employee, particularly first—or second-time homebuyers. And as HHG providers experience cost pressures across the board – from the cost of materials, fuel and labor to insurance – moving the belongings of mobile talent drains a bigger chunk of the budget.

With all that pressure to prevent rising costs from bubbling over, companies are trimming their mobility benefits offerings. But beware: as I confirmed in our webinar, this may hurt your talent strategy.

What may feel minor – like trimming a few benefits – can make a big difference in a few years, putting these companies at risk of losing up to 30% of their workforce. While there’s not always an obvious or direct correlation, mobility managers know how to make that connection. For example, a commonly cut benefit is spouse and career assistance. This is a huge difference-maker for dual-income families, and the benefit can be a great asset for getting the right talent in the door and helping them overcome a reluctance to relocate.
So, what can be done?

With flexible mobility models trending and so much more information and guidance available on how to get them right, more companies are embracing core/flex programs and witnessing first-hand how cost-containment and a great employee experience aren’t mutually exclusive.

However, that’s not the only way to strike a perfect balance. Our SMEs served up these tried-and-tested recommendations for today’s employers trying to optimize their mobility program and the relocation experience:

  • Focus on internal efficiencies and streamlining processes before cutting benefits.
  • Instead of blanket cuts, provide personalized, flexible benefits based on individual needs. Core/flex programs allow employers to offer benefits in a way that limits the administrative burden, allowing for a streamlined, but inclusive program.
  • Leverage data and AI to customize relocation packages and anticipate costs and trends, helping to support employees with the necessary services without overspending.
    • AI-powered predictive analytics can help employers adjust their relocation programs in real-time based on feedback and trends. This is particularly helpful for developing flexible choice programs that adapt to changing needs and preferences.
  • While AI and technology play a significant role in streamlining processes and improving efficiency, it’s essential to remember the human aspect of global mobility. Even today’s tech-savvy employees value personalized experiences and human interactions, so companies are wise to maintain a human touch and prioritize the quality of their front-line service staff to drive a best-in-class program.
  • Emphasize the cost-effectiveness of retaining existing talent over recruiting new hires through development opportunities, user experience improvements, and competitive benefits.
When it comes to ensuring that your employees have access to what they need to be successful during their relocation, you want to be able to rely on your RMC to say, ‘How are you managing those costs internally? How are you looking at the supply chain, and where are you integrating vertically or making sure that all of the data components are in line so that when we’re getting your employee, we are truly making the most effective use of their time?
Susan Ehrens Regional Vice President, Client Services

As with many things, conquering the cost/care tightrope is a collaborative effort between a client and RMC. From the client, there needs to be an authentic willingness to look at costs holistically and see the long-term impact of any cost-related decisions. Slashing costs too hastily will always affect the employee experience and, ultimately, the overall talent strategy. From your RMC, you should expect a willingness to explore different approaches and tools to help you reach your cost/care targets and connect you with other clients who have successfully navigated similar transitions.

At the end of the day, we all want the best for your mobile talent and your business, and with so much more data at our fingertips and cutting-edge tools at our disposal (have you seen what GoFlex can do?), reaching these goals is more achievable than ever!

Tuck into the full Trends Webinar here and uncover all the trends and tech that will move us through 2024: Workforce Mobility Outlook 2024: The Trends and Tech That Will Move Us (

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Written by Jennifer Connell


Jennifer Connell, SCRP, SGMS-T, is Vice President of Weichert’s Advisory Services group. She has over 25 years of experience in the workforce mobility and employee benefits industries and is a recipient of Worldwide ERC’s Distinguished Service Award. She has spoken on workforce mobility topics at industry conferences throughout North America and written for mobility- and HR-themed blogs and magazines worldwide.

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