Posted on October 19, 2011
During Worldwide ERC’s recent fall conference, a session comparing approaches to short-term assignments illustrated the importance of accurately assessing the overall goal of the assignment and realistically projecting the time needed to attain it. Doing so at the front-end can be just as critical of a component as assessing the right candidate, helping eliminate the need to extend assignments and avoid the costs associated with those extensions.
The companies represented on the panel approached short term assignments largely based on the company’s line of business.
One company, a construction and engineering firm, used short term assignments when needed to meet construction contract requirements. This means that assignments are well defined up-front with cost estimates completed for every move. Project profitability is critical, so managing costs is extremely important. The company does not assess candidates from a cultural adaptation, language, or even family support perspective. The only criteria for assignments are a candidate’s skill set. Metrics for the success of the assignment are measured against the successful completion of the project and the profitability of the project.
Representatives from the other companies (a large pharmaceutical firm and a consumer products company) offered the same reasons for assignments (e.g.: developmental, project based, skill sets or leadership development). However, the emphasis on what was required in terms of preparation of candidates, ongoing support, and repatriation services varied. The consumer products company noted that assignees’ families were invited to go on the assignment, whereas the pharmaceutical company allows assignees to take their families, but they were not “invited” to go. Softer services such as language and cultural training were viewed as higher priorities for these firms, compared to the engineering firm. For all three organizations, cost control was a critical component, and one important downside was the impact that extending an assignment has on the overall cost of the assignment.
While each company offers assignments based on their business needs and internal culture, all shared a common view that short term assignments were important to their overall corporate mission, and — if managed effectively— they were considered a successful investment.
Justas these firms are using corporate objectives to set relocation policy and benefits, RELO Direct® recommends that our clients look at the big picture when setting policy objectives and clearly outline the goals and budget implications of a short term assignment. This analysis is critical not only at the corporate level, but also at the divisional/business unit level. It is our opinion that doing so will give business units a better view into the costs of extensions, and assist them in better managing the overall assignment.
Posted by: Roger Atchinson
Posted on March 31, 2011
The cover story of Mobility magazine’s March issue examines how employee mobility fits into an organization’s talent management puzzle. This, in our opinion, is very good news. An informed transferee is an empowered transferee, and giving an employee the tools to make educated decisions about both career and financial issues results in greater move acceptance and employee satisfaction. RELO Direct® has long advocated that employee mobility is an important component of an organization’s workforce strategy. In fact, RELO Direct® recommended this strategy in 2008, as part of our innovative RELOAssess program. We first proposed this strategy in response to what RELO Direct® saw as an overall softening of the real estate market and the growing reluctance to relocate by employees, fearing for their financial security.
However, the second component of our program has not gained as much media attention. This is ironic, as we believe that it actually has greater potential to align talent management and relocation, while saving time and cost in recruiting and relocation.
Conventional wisdom holds that a Guaranteed Buyout program is a “last resort”, to be offered only after the transferee has completed a mandatory marketing period. But these are not conventional times, and a reexamination of commonly held assumptions is in order. RELOAssess turns this model on its head, by offering a Guaranteed Buyout upfront, at the outset of the transferee’s relocation. For some, this is viewed as breakthrough thinking and a real paradigm shift. Properly positioned in policy and executed as a talent management tool, not just a last resort real estate disposition tool, an immediate implementation of a Guaranteed Buyout actually offers the potential for cost savings, realized through fewer exceptions to policy for temporary living, return trips, duplicate housing, etc. Hiring the right candidates who have been assessed as capable of being relocated upfront, will also save countless hours in recruiting and lower recruiting cost.
To be sure, this component of our program has begun to be adopted by corporations looking to balance employee mobility, talent management and cost concerns, and we predict that many more will do so in the near future. You can download our entire RELOAssess white paper to learn more here.
Posted by: Bob Portale
Posted on August 31, 2010
In today’s economic climate, many corporate relocation professionals find that relocation responsibilities are only a small part of their overall job description. As a result, many don’t have either the time or resources to attend national and global relocation conferences offered throughout the world.
However, to stay up-to-date on relocation hot topics you don’t have to travel far…many networking opportunities can be found right in your backyard through local and regional Worldwide ERC® groups. The benefits to you of attending local meetings are great. Local groups typically discuss a wide range of topics – from social networking to global policy trends. Topics at meetings I recently attended included current tax and legal issues affecting relocation, relocation policy trends, immigration, managing home sale programs, and inspections – a wide variety, to be sure.
Additionally, one of the greatest things about these groups is the willingness of individuals from across organizations to share their experiences and challenges with others. And because the groups are smaller, you have a greater opportunity to get to know your peers and find local resources who can help you identify emerging industry trends. RELO Direct® representatives are in regular attendance at many of these meetings and can provide you with benchmarking data to help ensure your relocation policies are pertinent in today’s environment.
If you are interested in hearing new solutions, industry trends and best practices, visit Worldwide ERC’s website to find the regional group nearest you.
Posted by: Judy Pogue
Posted on August 10, 2010
With US Surface Transportation Board’s elimination of the 400 N Tariff in May 2007, we have seen the household goods industry become even more complicated and challenging for corporate clients to understand. Moving companies and relocation management companies have customized the base 400 N Tariff to their specific situation. While we know that the vast majority of moving companies are reputable and their published rates are fair and competitive, there is the persistent belief that rates and tariffs offered are the equivalent of costs incurred. This simply is not the case. Discounts do not equate to dollars. In reality, most corporate clients do not have the internal expertise to audit invoices submitted by their preferred carriers or from the relocation companies’ carriers. Documentation can be missing, reported inaccurately, misinterpreted, billed for services not authorized, etc. The bottom line is it is very difficult to understand how costs are tabulated and if they are accurate. When suppliers say they audit their invoices, this is like the fox guarding the henhouse. RELO Direct® believes that the best practice today, given the complexity of the household industry, is to seek the audit and counseling expertise of an independent audit company. RELO Direct® believes this practice makes sense and we partner with Infinity Management for this service. If you are confused and seeking a new approach to understand your true moving cost, contact RELO Direct® or Infinity Management.
Posted by: Roger Atchinson
Posted on July 09, 2010
A recent article in Executive Travel magazine on the topic of customer service compelled me to offer my insight into the concepts being discussed. After all, customer service is at the core of what the employee relocation industry is all about.
In the article, author Alessandra Bianchi quotes John Nordstrom: “There is nothing new about customer service.” She goes on to write that service providers must “be human” and “practice the Golden Rule.” But in this era of social media it can be easy to lose sight of this simple truth.
Of course, our industry is about so much more than counseling employees on the benefits of their relocation policy. Ultimately, we are in the business of helping families safeguard the memories they have created in their current home, while helping them secure a new foundation for the memories they’ll create in their new home. We do this by listening to their concerns and setting realistic expectations around the process we are guiding them through. As hurdles are encountered, relocation counselors must be empowered to act. Doing so completes the customer service cycle and validates the importance of the role they play.
Relocation management companies cannot change the challenging circumstances facing transferees in today’s economy. However, we do make all the difference by providing that human touch and treating each relocation as if it were our own – that’s the Golden Rule.
Posted by: Bob Portale
Posted on May 11, 2010
Pam O’Connor, the president/CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, addressed a group of relocation professionals recently at a conference in Chicago, discussing “The Housing Market & Mobility”.
She mentioned how the run up of real estate activity between 2000 and 2006 resulted in unsustainable appreciation contributing to the decline in real estate values that began in 2008. Since then, we have seen an increase in listing inventory, declining home values, and a glut of foreclosures.
Today affordability is up and housing represents 20% of the GDP. The housing stimulus has helped by attracting two million first time buyers. Some upcoming issues Pam discussed include: the impact of the expiration of the tax credit, a possible upcoming increase in interest rates, the shadow REO inventory, unemployment challenges and unprecedented deficits.
Pam stated that first quarter 2010 home sales were up 13% over a year ago, and pending sales are up 17% over a year ago. The pace of monthly delinquency is up 21% over last year.
Opportunities exist right now, driven by long-term investment value, increased affordability, positive demographics and reasonable interest rates.
How does this impact corporate relocation activity? Naturally, activity has declined, as some transferees are reluctant to move due to housing issues. Recently more renters have entered the market place. Many policy changes have been implemented as a direct result of the real estate market. The most prevalent policy changes relate to real estate and include: adjusting the list price of a home to be within 105% of the BMAs/appraised value, adding or enhancing home sale bonuses, extending temporary living, selecting qualified real estate agents, allowing for loss on sale provisions, increasing loss on sale amounts, and duplicating housing allowances.
Pam concluded with the fact that this challenging market has made us better operators and will result in healthier, more consumer focused businesses in the future. Relocation providers need to pay attention to what’s occurring and keep their corporate contacts advised, as relocation does not operate in a vacuum.
As usual, Pam added quite a bit of insight regarding the present and future challenges we all face in addressing global mobility.
Posted by: Judy Pogue
Posted on November 02, 2008
A recent article by The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch
points out things people should consider before accepting a
RELO Direct's President/CEO Bob Portale is quoted in the
article, suggesting that families tour communities before
committing to a move. "When you are touring with a real estate agent, make sure
that you tour the neighborhood and town," Portale says. "Get a
good sense of the community before you settle in. You can
narrow down the location, but until you've actually gone to
that location and toured those neighborhoods, you do not
really have a good understanding."