Putting the “Core” in Your Core-Flex Mobility Program

Published: Friday, March 1, 2024
Jennifer White

In today’s dynamic and competitive business environment, organizations are realizing the importance of program flexibility to attract and retain a diverse talent pool. Implementing a Core-Flex talent mobility structure can be an important tool for your organization.

Our previous blog post, Core-Flex Mobility Models, outlined Core-Flex, discussed varying models, and identified considerations for aligning your program with company goals. Next, we tackle the question “how do you decide what the ‘core’ policy benefits are in your program?”

How Do You Define “Core” Policy Benefits?

When deciding which policy elements will be core benefits (those benefits that everyone within a certain population receives), you need to identify your organization’s definition of ‘core’ policy benefits. To help you decide, you can probe a little further by answering a few questions:

  • What do you consider the purpose of your core benefits?   
  • What is your company hoping to accomplish with your designated core benefits?
  • Are you completely cost focused, are you interested in providing employee flexibility and an enhanced employee experience, or is flexibility to the business the key driver? 
  • Are duty of care considerations a basis for your core benefits?

How Different Organizations View Core Benefits

Some companies consider core benefits to be the bare minimum that can be provided to ensure regulatory compliance, for example, tax services and immigration support. These are certainly critical and necessary core benefits for international relocations. 

Other companies take their definition of core benefits a bit deeper and include those benefits they consider necessary for the success of a relocation and transition to the new location. For example:

  • Final move – getting the employee from point A to point B.
  • Destination services – assisting the employee with locating appropriate neighborhoods, housing, schools, etc., and beginning to transition safely to the new environment.
  • Temporary housing – helping an employee get settled upon arrival by providing the opportunity to locate housing, receive household goods, etc., before moving into their permanent or assignment housing.
  • Household goods – providing household goods is considered by many companies as a core benefit.

It all goes back to what your organization sees as the purpose of your core benefits and what you are trying to accomplish.

Tying Core Benefits to Duty of Care

Core benefits can often be seen as a reflection of an organization’s concept of duty of care. If examined through that filter, core benefits can be seen as policy elements that:

  • Are necessary to the success of the employee’s relocation and safe transition to new location
  • Provide consistency in application of key benefits within the targeted population
  • Protect employees with a proven and trustworthy supplier network
  • Ensure regulatory compliance

If those concepts fit within your organization’s duty of care approach, it can help guide your choice of core policy benefits.

Choosing Core Benefits Based on Your Flex Benefits

Interestingly, what your company considers as core benefits may depend on how your flex or choice benefits are structured. Some basic questions that can help guide you include:

  • Are your flexible benefits chosen by the employee? The business? A combination of both?
  • What is the purpose of your flex benefits:
  • Provide flexibility for the employee to tailor a package to their specific needs or enhance their experience?
  • Allow the employee to choose from flexible benefits when the company doesn’t have enough in their budget to cover all areas outside of core support?
  • Offer flexible benefits that the business considers important for the location, the role, the employee level, and/or to recruit and retain critical talent?

Perhaps the business has some choice of flexible benefits, and then there are some benefits that the employee may choose based on their family situation or other personal criteria. If the program flex benefits are entirely the employee’s choice, then you many need to include some business need benefits in the core benefits. If there are business choice benefits, the internal stakeholders selecting the benefits must understand what they are and offer provisions that provide support to the employee rather than just focusing on the bottom line. This is particularly important if the core benefits provided are minimal.

Methodology of Flex Benefits

The methodology of your flexible benefits is also key to what is provided as core benefits. If the flexible part of your package is a capped amount or a lump sum, you would likely want to ensure that the employee receives the basic relocation benefits as core so that they receive an adequate level of support.

It is important to note that core benefits can be tiered by level, purpose, duration, etc. based on the structure of your mobility program. An executive level policy may have more generous core benefits than for employees at lower levels, and a lower-tier policy may provide just minimal core benefits.

Move type also plays a critical role in what is considered core and/or flex. What might be considered an appropriate flexible benefit for a domestic move may not be appropriate for an international move due to the complexities of cross-border moves, duty of care concerns, and compliance considerations. 

There is no right or wrong answer to what is considered essential in your core policy benefits beyond basic regulatory compliance. Core policy benefits are determined based on various criteria unique to your organization, including your definition of core, the purpose of your core policy benefits, your core-flex structure, methodology, move type(s), etc. The flexible elements within your policy can be driven by your organization’s philosophy on core benefits, which is why core-flex is an attractive option for some programs.

To learn more about the many ways SIRVA can help you align your core-flex program with your company goals, contact us at



  • Kathy Burrows, Senior Director, Global Advisory Services