Blog

The Benefits of Conducting a Mobility Program Review During COVID-19

Published: Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Elaine Baker

Why now may be the ideal time to reexamine company goals and policy alignment

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way mobility professionals are looking at relocation and, in many ways, altering both short- and long-term company goals. As mobility teams consider these changes it’s become advisable to ask, “How should our relocation policies and processes change to support company objectives and adapt to what will surely be the new world of relocation?” Indeed, the pandemic may present a significant opportunity to mobility leaders (who may now find themselves with an unusual opportunity of time) to conduct a complete program review; doing so will not only foster smoother relocations when remobilization occurs – it will also present a chance to better define the company’s goals, identify opportunities for mobility program improvements, and focus on alignment between the two

Why audit your mobility program?

It’s advisable to conduct periodic mobility program reviews under standard circumstances (every 24-36 months at minimum) but in-house professionals are often too busy managing relocations to devote the time. The missed opportunity, however, can also result in missed chances to maximize efficiency and minimize overspend – both expected to be crucial when companies remobilize. 

Additionally, as organizations work toward gaining a competitive advantage in their industry marketplaces, it’s important to remember that competitors will be doing the same. A company’s mobility brand has become key to attracting and maintaining talent; how employees feel about their care during a pandemic and the associated relocation could have heightened implications. Does your company’s policy provide benefits and levels of service that are comparable to your competitors? Will your employees perceive that they had a positive experience and that their needs were met during the pandemic? A policy review can help companies to identify opportunities to keep your company competitive in light of unprecedented challenges that have occurred – and that will occur – before a new normal is achieved in mobility.  

What should companies consider when conducting a mobility policy review – and why?

There are several factors stakeholders should consider during a mobility policy audit. These include, but aren’t limited to:

Mobility Objectives

As mentioned above, it’s likely that the pandemic has caused a shift in company goals. If mobility plans aren’t aligned with these goals, that disconnect could have costly implications. Does your company policy support short-term strategic objectives for remobilization? Will the short-term strategies transition well into long-term goals? Is your policy flexible enough to account for the mercurial nature and contingencies associated with a pandemic-related remobilization? Your relocation management company (RMC) can help to answer these questions and guide solutions. 

Cost Control and Enhancements

Cost control is typically high on company stakeholders lists of importance. A thorough policy and program audit can identify opportunities to implement process improvements that will both unlock time and save costs – in ways that won’t sacrifice a positive employee experience. Despite unexpected costs that have likely been mounting during the pandemic due to extended temporary housing needs and necessary care, there are a variety of ways to balance those costs against “next-phase” planning. During a pandemic-related remobilization it will be more important than ever to provide care and coverage to your employees, while maintaining your company’s bottom line. 

Rapidly Changing Compliance Expectations

It’s important to gauge whether a company’s policy is compliant with all national and international regulations when there isn’t a pandemic. These regulations typically vary from country to country, evolving often to begin with. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new and more urgent need to keep up with rapidly evolving and varied requirements. Without a policy review, companies risk the costly impacts of being noncompliant in the areas of tax, visa and immigration, and/or organizational documentation.  

As laws, regulations, and remobilization phases evolve, it will be important for companies to continually monitor requirements and reassess their mobility policies to ensure that they are able to adapt accordingly. Flexibility and will be key throughout the process.

Changing Relocation Types

For reasons ranging from cost minimization to talent development, companies were already exploring alternative relocation typesbefore the pandemic. Altered work circumstances caused by COVID-19 – from remote work requirements to immigration and travel limitations – have required company stakeholders to take a deeper look at these alternatives.  

Client feedback has shown that mobility is still considered essential to achieving organizational goals, but there was already a noticeable shift in the way companies were beginning to move their employees before the virus took hold, with increased extended business travel programs and short-term relocations; future move type preferences will likely continue to evolve – and differ from country to country – depending on local circumstances. 

Extended business travel may prove to be complicated until free travel is completely restored and, as some countries adjust their immigration requirements, long-term or permanent relocations may prove to be more efficient than short-term ones. The reasons – and the implications – will need to be re-examined, going forward, to determine the best course of action for each company, which may differ from scenario to scenario.  

What should my company review when auditing our mobility program?

It’s important to remember that if a company has run their mobility program the same way for extended periods, flaws and opportunities may not be obvious without some deeper digging. Therefore, after clearly defining company goals and mobility objectives, several questions should be considered when auditing your mobility program’s efficiency: 

  • Is now a good time to launch an internal customer survey to check on levels of satisfaction?
  • Are there typical assumptions or expectations made – both formal and implied – that need re-examination? 
  • Historically, how many past relocations have been successful versus those that haven’t been?
    • What are the criteria that have been used to measure success in the past, and do those criteria meet company objectives today?
    • Will the definition of successful relocations differ as your company remobilizes following the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Do the answers to the above questions align with both company goals and your business mobility brand? 
  • Is the data you’re using to assess the above accurate and applicable?
  • Does your company have accurate information on employee and relocation demographics?
  • Are the expectations and needs of all pertinent departments being met by the current mobility plan? (HR, IT, leadership, etc?) 
  • What’s the rate of exceptions your company has encountered in the past?
  • How are the allowance, offerings, and level of service determined for each relocation? 
  • Have milestones on mobility timelines been typically met – successfully and on time

Answers to the above questions will shed valuable light into areas of your mobility plan that may need improvement. Once areas of weakness and strength are identified, a deeper look into the efficiency of specific program areas will provide additional exposure – from home sale and household goods to exchange rates and retention. Working closely with your mobility partner will provide the greatest opportunities for insight, since experienced relocation management companies are well-versed in the complex relationships between the many components of a relocation package. Additionally, mobility partners with expanded networks can offer a variety of services and innovative solutions that may not be realized elsewhere.  

Looking forward, past the pandemic:

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges to mobility professionals, but it also has presented a valuable opportunity: By re-evaluating mobility programs against the demands of this unprecedented time, companies can assess what about their programs is working well and what areas could benefit from improvement. Equally important, they have a chance to be better prepared for an efficient remobilization in the future. 

To learn more about how SIRVA can help your company conduct a thorough review of your company’s mobility policy, contact us at concierge@sirva.com.