As a relocation management company (RMC), we get the opportunity to support every one of our clients with their policies in some way or another. Our consulting team helps create, evaluate, review and benchmark a wide range of policies.  

As companies have grown globally, many have designed and written mobility policies to address specific local or regional needs, only to later discover multiple policies across the organization where discrepancies or imbalances exist. In other cases, companies have started with one overall global assignment policy and applied it across the world only to find that it may not address certain local or regional issues or requirements, and had to add benefits to support the employee or program in those locations. There are also situations where a policy has been created for a specific company project for a group of people going to a location where there are budgetary restrictions with which they must grapple.

As companies begin to review their mobility policies, they are often motivated to achieve some very specific outcomes like:

  1. tightening compliance
  2. reducing costs
  3. adding flexibility
  4. maximizing return
  5. improving the employee experience

While many programs seek to benchmark each policy and get a better understanding of how they compare to others, we might suggest that the best starting point is to make sure that any (and every) policy is aligned to your overall talent strategies.  

Is there a magical unicorn policy: A flexible policy that is fit for any purpose? Probably not, but some policies may be able to apply to many different talent and business scenarios.

Most companies today find that they have an average of three to four times more policies in their mobility toolbox than they did 10 years ago. So, how many policies do companies have or need? As global mobility functions to support the business goals, each company has their own answer to this question. It actually ranges dramatically within our client base depending on the size of the mobility program, the industry and the need for supporting global activity. 

According to AIRINC's 2017 Mobility Outlook Survey, companies have more policies to handle their talent mobility activity than they did last year. In 2016, the average was 4.2 policies per global mobility program, and this increased to 4.5 policies in 2017.

Additionally, the KPMG 2017 GAPP survey revealed that as it relates to mobility policies:

  • 97% of companies have a long-term assignment policy
  • 86% of companies have a short-term assignment policy
  • 61% of companies have a permanent (cross-border) transfer policy

After that, the percentage drops drastically: commuter policy (28%), developmental (25%), rotational (17%) and hand-raisers (14%). But a big reason that companies are adding these types of alternative policies is to address a greater variety of employee and corporate needs.

One policy trend that we are seeing across all clients and industries is the desire to provide choice and flexibility. Recent policy review sessions with clients have focused on how to integrate greater flexibility that still allows for balancing employee needs and company cost.

A recent Expat Academy article written by Myrianthe Ewington and titled, "Time to revisit the building blocks of your global mobility policies", she explores not only where a mobility program might want to start when it comes to reviewing a policy but some additional considerations that should be taken into account as a company takes on this task. While there may not be a perfect policy, Myrianthe advises that policy reviews should address stakeholder input, consider talent needs and to create policies that are clear and relevant. Her last piece of advice, "Finally, it is important that the policies are in line with the corporate culture, language, and values."

Ultimately, the perfect policies should be designed (or re-designed) to create solutions that are relevant, cost effective and that help achieve a company’s strategic goals, while protecting both the employee and the company from compliance issues related to employment, compensation and benefits, immigration and tax.