According to ECA's International Relocation Benefits Survey, it isn't the "what" that has changed much with mobility policies, it is the "how" that has changed. 

Let's talk about the "what" first. FEM shared that the ECA survey "showed that the actual benefits provided to relocating staff have remained consistent over the years. As well as travel to and from the host location and help with immigration, which are provided by almost all organisations, most also provide orientation and briefing services, shipping of personal goods and temporary accommodation." 

This falls in line with our experience supporting and managing corporate expatriate assignments over the years. As COVID-19 spread across the globe, many companies and expats had to seriously consider their situations. For many expats who were out on assignment, the decision to return home, to stay on assignment or to move to an alternative third country had to be debated. In many situations, it was not immediately clear where things were going and just how hard hit any one location would be. The constantly changing details made it challenging from a "duty of care" perspective to know how to move forward in the safest fashion. As most global mobility programs managed through the pandemic, many were making one-off decisions on possible exceptions as challenges and unique needs arose, and not focusing on big programmatic and policy changes. If you feel like reminiscing further, you can tap back into this post from July 2020, "Expat life shaken up by COVID-19." But the reality is that not many programs have changed the benefits being offered to employees for supporting their international assignments and relocations.

OK, so now let's consider the "how" element. The bigger insight in this survey is about the way in which assignment and transfer benefits are being provided to expatriates. According to this ECA survey, 42% now use a flexible approach, and this looks set to increase in the future as a further 18% plan to use a much more flexible approach. The ECA article shares various options for providing the flexibility from lump sums to benefits "in kind" where the employer pays directly. 

In our opinion, though, today it is about finding the right balance between the two where even more choices can be provided, costs can be controlled, and ultimately the support is more suited to the needs of the employee and family. ECA explains that "assignees and their families are at the centre of the relocation process, so giving them more say when it comes to relocation-specific benefits is a natural step. More and more companies are now trying to find the balance that works for them and their assignees." We could not agree more, and this idea is a foundational element to our ground-breaking technology solution that allows employees to design a package that works best for them where they can balance traditional benefits — like cash and benefits in kind — with non-traditional benefits.