September 2017

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80 Mobility | September 2017 Tips and advice from the global talent mobility community INDUSTRY INSIGHTS Take a look through your mobility policies and com- munications to your employees: How many times is the word "reasonable" in there? Or "at the discretion of …," "if necessary …," "a certain level of"—or just silence on a certain topic? Flexibility is one thing—and certainly needed across the HR space to be able to properly support employees—but ambiguity is another. The difference between a clear "if … then" statement (if your chil - dren need to attend school interviews, then they can accompany you on your look-see trip) and an ambig- uous, open statement (a look-see trip will be provided for you, your spouse, and accompanying children where required) makes a huge difference across the board and will help your program run considerably more smoothly. From a vendor perspective, it's almost impossible to work in an efficient and scalable manner within the realm of "fluid" policies. Sure, we can put in place a fabulous exception request process and create lists of knowledge that teams have acquired over time as to what you do and don't mean by "where practical." But every vendor wants to be able to act inde - pendently and take the administration away from you, creating scalable teams that can be brought in and up to speed quickly as needed to support you. From the employee experience perspective, a clear, well-defined policy that gives the employee certainty over what they can and can't do will win every time. No one wants to be in the line at Best Buy wondering if the flat-screen TV under their arm is a "normal and customary relocation expense." From the company perspective, this kind of language basically makes exception management a full-time job. What's more, exception management becomes more of a process of managing and clarify- ing ambiguity (Is registering my car "reasonable"? What about babysitting while I look at houses?) rather than truly managing exceptions that arise due to genuinely unforeseen circumstances. Lastly, from an improvement perspective, most companies are looking to enhance their mobility programs—for example, conducting policy reviews, streamlining processes, or bringing in technology to support the team and the employee. This is challenging with unclear policies—how do you calculate the cost of renting a car "as appropriate to the family size and seniority" in your new fancy cost-estimate tool? Or try to self-enable employees with portals or apps guiding them through the process, when they still need to ring a member of the team for clarity? Many think it's hard to standardize policies, but I'd challenge you to try. The arbitration process you and your team go through in deciding when some - thing is included or not does follow patterns and rules—it's not ad hoc and individual-dependent every time—and getting everyone around the table, you will be able to flesh out the ins and outs to cover 99 percent of cases. With more structure in place, you'll find your time is freed up, employees are happier, and you have a sturdy foundation on which to grow and improve. M Chantel Rowe is the director of mobility innovation at MOVE Guides, leading their team of global solutions consultants. She can be reached at +1 650 394 7070 or How Being 'Reasonable' May Be Hurting Your Mobility Program By Chantel Rowe

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