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Providing Effective Relocation Support
By Sherman Pereira
Crown Relocations, Regional Director – Central and Eastern Europe

Relocating employees is no easy task. While most companies in Russia will move an average of 15-20 employees per year for expatriate assignments, the related responsibilities of the HR professional can be overwhelming. Often the HR professional is responsible for relocation in addition to several other key human resource management functions. To ensure that the relocation program is in alignment with the organization’s business objectives, company culture and budget requirements, adherence to some basic principles can be helpful.

Career development and linkage to mobility

First, a company needs to acknowledge its commitment to mobility and the importance it has to business development and career progression. All employees should be aware of the value the organization places on assignments. There should be a written relocation policy that addresses the transfer process and the related compensation and benefits programs that shall be made available to employees on assignments. Many companies post their relocation policies on the company intranet – often with a letter from the CEO expressing the company’s appreciation for the employee’s commitment and acknowledging the growth opportunities that are likely to arise as a result of assignment success. This reinforces the link between mobility and career progression.

Choosing the right employee

In order to ensure that the appropriate employees are chosen for expatriate assignments, a company should have a formal candidate selection process in place. Service providers offer Candidate Assessment Programs that help the employee and spouse to explore all aspects of life on assignment – from daily living and career development to repatriation. Emphasis is placed on evaluating the employee’s adaptability to the new environment, introducing coping skills and change-management techniques and providing an overview of behavioral, social and cultural nuances in the destination. Given the significant investment an assignment represents, identifying potential opportunities that are expected to arise upon return is critical to retention and protection of the company’s investment. A formal candidate-selection process ensures the right employee is selected, for the right assignment, at the right time.

Overcoming challenges

In addition to selecting the best candidate for the assignment, most HR professionals confront budget constraints and compressed turnaround times in managing the relocation process. To help alleviate some of these challenges, the HR professional should play an integral part in any business expansion strategy and should have reliable, performance-driven supplier relationships in place to ensure effective support. By sourcing performance- based partnerships, expatriate program support can be accomplished with consistency and quality at a quantitative cost. Pre-defining policy guidelines, negotiating applicable supplier fees and identifying account-dedicated contacts enables cost effective and consistent relocation program management.

Expecting the unexpected

While some issues that arise during relocation are unavoidable, it is essential that the expatriate has a single point of contact or “go to” professional with experience to interpret policy, coordinate services, and to provide guidance throughout the process. A clear explanation of roles and responsibilities should be discussed with the employee at the onset of the assignment.

Utilizing online tools

Many employees are familiar with navigating self-service sites to research or retrieve information. Leveraging the global access and uniform message that a company’s intranet offers, organizations are posting relocation policies, frequently asked questions, forms bins and contact links on their intranet to support the relocation process. Companies, as well as relocation providers, offer online tools such as destination guides, tips for relocating and information for the expatriate’s family. Crown Relocations provides clients and expatriates with a mobility management system, available 24 hours a day, so that both HR individuals and transferees can check the status of all aspects of their move; from expense payments in process to shipment status. Technological tools are an essential element of supporting global mobility.

Measuring success

Continuous improvement can only occur in an environment where results are measured. Employee surveys, service provider evaluations and internal feedback mechanisms should be established to assist HR in refining program design delivery and process.

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