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Designing a Flexible Mobility Programme (Part 2 of 4)

Published: 22 July 2020
Kathy Burrows

Core/Flex Mobility Programmes: Advantages and Challenges

In a recent blog post,we discussed one of many reasons companies are striving to incorporate flexibility into their mobility programmes. There are a variety of barriers to relocation today, from the career and economic related issues that can be associated with dual income households to unique property complications and family needs. Organisations are in search of creative ways to traverse these barriers but, simultaneously, they also need to manage mobility investment costs and align with organisational goals. Core/flex mobility programmes can be a valuable way to accomplish all of this, as they typically offer degrees of both control and flexibility. However, this is only true when they’re designed and administered properly. Below, we’ll discuss what core/flex plans are and the pros and cons of using one. In a later post, we’ll discuss how to know if your company’s mobility plan is too flexible or not flexible enough.

What is a Core/Flex Programme?

As mentioned above, in a core/flex programme, flexible components are typically offered (within company established parameters and/or limitations) in conjunction with a core set of services that are provided to all employees within a group or move type, across the board. In theory, this should result in packages that can be tailored to address employee preferences, providing them with services they do need while omitting those that they don’t. The structure of core/flex programmes differs from company to company, as the unique needs of each organisation drive their design, but most consider compliance as they determine many of their core offerings. Regardless of structure, there are some benefits and challenges that are consistently shared. 

Advantages of Utilising a Core/Flex Programme:

They address both company and employee needs: While the core components of a core/flex programme allow a company to control offerings in a way that manages costs, flex components allow for addressing the unique needs and preferences of the business and/or employees. A single executive from the United States who has accepted a long term assignment in Brazil will have very different relocation needs than a manager from Germany who has been asked to permanently relocate with family to China. As stated above, a core/flex programme would allow each employee to maximise the components they need while declining services they don’t. In some cases, it might also allow for spending more on services that are a priority to them and less on those that aren’t. Core/flex allows for greater customisation and empowerment, which positively impacts on the employee experience.

They assist with controlling relocation costs: Becausecore/flex programmes typically provide parameters and guidelines for both core and flex services, companies can control the type, delivery and scope of the services being offered.

Theyreduce exceptions and exclusions: Because guided flexibility is already built into the programme, the need for exceptions can be minimised or eliminated altogether. Additionally, in cases where unique circumstances would otherwise preclude candidates from accepting assignments or relocations, core/flex programmes allow mobility managers to potentially address and remove barriers to the move. 

They remain flexible as relocation progresses: Often, needs may change as a relocation progresses. Depending on the selections made in the early stages of the process, core/flex programmes can continue to be adjusted throughout a relocation.

In short, core/flex programmes are an equitable way to provide flexible benefits, when designed and administered properly. They also allow companies to expand their talent pools since unique needs can be considered and employees and mobility managers are both engaged in the management of their package and associated costs.

Challenges Associated with Core/Flex Programmes:

Though there are significant benefits to utilising a core/flex programme, there are also a few challenges that come with utilising this type of delivery model:

  • Programme/policy counselling and administration can be more complex than those of more strictly defined and/or tiered policies.
  • Budgeting may be more challenging due to variable policy elements.
  • Tracking programme metrics can be more difficult, since employee support components vary.
  • The need for managing employee expectations and communication is heightened, as some may believe that other employees received benefits they should have been entitled to, but were denied – particularly in cases in which mobility managers have discretion of component choices.

Too Much Flexibility or Not Enough? Striking the Right Balance

There are many ways to structure a core/flex programme but, ultimately, success will depend on striking the right balance between structure and flexibility. In our next blog post, Conducting an Efficiency Check: Is Your Mobility Programme Too Flexible or Not Flexible Enough? we’ll discuss how to know if your mobility programme is too flexible – or not flexible enough – and what to consider when using this type of mobility model.

To learn more about how SIRVA can help your incorporate flexibility into your mobility programme, please contact us, at: concierge@sirva.com.