How Duty of Care Can Help Support and Retain Talent

Published: Thursday, May 9, 2024
Sirva Communications

As the world of work continues to evolve, global mobility has experienced a substantial shift, especially after the pandemic. One aspect of global mobility in particular, duty of care, has had to adjust accordingly.

Recently, Sirva’s Jennifer Rowe, senior manager, intercultural services, participated on a panel of Mobility and Human Resources experts at a NYC SHRM event discussing duty of care and the evolution of this important aspect of mobility. Among the topics discussed were:


Duty of Care icon  

Duty of Care Pre-pandemic vs. Post-pandemic:

Before the pandemic, duty of care was not top of mind for an assignee. Often, the assignee’s focus was on the logistical items of a move, such as what they needed to get to the relocating country, and they might forgo their cultural training benefit or not take advantage of the partner support provided. When the pandemic hit, employees found that they, and their families, really needed more duty of care support.

The pandemic brought to light the gaps in how a company really needs to focus on employees and provide more holistic support and consider enhancing policy components as a way to ensure employee satisfaction, raise engagement, and retain talent.

Talent path

Building Career Paths and Retaining Talent:

Companies often choose an employee for an assignment because they have the right technical skills needed for the role. However, the company may not have considered whether the employee will be able to adapt to the host culture or their unique needs and circumstances – accompanying family, school-aged children, elderly relatives, language barriers, etc. How can the company provide the support needed by the employee and their family, who is being taken from their current support network, and make it attractive to the employee as a “next step” in their career?

Integrating candidate assessment support that evaluates a candidate for a particular assignment including considerations of what the family’s needs are holistically, such as extra support, trips to their home country, sending family to the employee’s new location, language training, etc. are ways to help the family thrive, the employee succeed, and retain talent for the company.


Intercultural Support for Repatriation: 

One way duty of care programs are helpful to relocating employees is upon repatriation to their home country after an assignment. Even though they are returning to their home country, there will often be a certain degree of reverse culture shock. The repatriating employee and family may find things have changed dramatically since they were last in their home country, so readjustment may be needed.

Providing support upon repatriation helps employees and their families identify and develop tactics for successful reintegration, learn how to manage reverse culture shock, and formulate realistic expectations during the readjustment. Employees can also identify global competencies gained during their assignment, create strategies for applying them in the new work environment, and build action plans to utilize new skills and continue development.  

travel and security

Global Travel and Security: 

No one-size-fits-all formula works for every assignee or every assignment. The framework of security support needs to be adapted to fit the particular person or location. Considerations need to be made for the employee, their family, and the country they are moving to. Additional education and support may be necessary.

Virtual Assignments: 

One way for a company to meet an immediate need to have a representative in a certain location but not completely uproot a family, is to provide the option for a “virtual assignment.” For example, an employee may work on an expat “assignment” in China, but remain in their home location and work Shanghai hours in the U.S. While not an adequate or long-term replacement for an actual assignment, it can help fill gaps when there is an immediate need. Providing support for the employee and their family is critical to ensure they can all successfully adapt to the virtual assignment.



As the world has faced challenging situations over the past few years, it is important that global mobility programs adapt to accommodate the evolving needs of a changing workforce. Looking at ways to support employees with robust duty of care support can ensure the right candidates are moving to the right locations, their families are supported, and the company’s goals are met.

For more information on the ways you can incorporate duty of care into your relocation program, please contact your Sirva representative or email us at


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