The Duty of Care: Employee Relocation Policies for Better Business

With global relocation becoming the new normal, millions of professionals take up different assignments and relocate annually. Mobility is proving to be the cornerstone for business expansion and increasing revenue. Business owners must understand that there are a range of issues, mental and physical, that an expatriate is likely to encounter with a relocation. This is where the duty of care, the common longstanding principal law, comes into play. It can be defined as the company’s obligation towards its employees to protect health and safety. Hence, the duty of care must be incorporated into an employee relocation policy. The policy should consider warranting the welfare not only of the employee, but also their family throughout the relocation and new location assignment.

When health insurance is portable within the home country, the employer must ensure the employee and the family get all the current benefits in the new location. Since healthcare coverage and systems vary not only from country to country but from region to region, it is the employer’s job to make sure that the employee has global healthcare coverage. The employer should ensure benefits in the coverage area are in place before the transferee arrives at the job location. It is also essential to have a policy that includes medical evacuation services when required. 

Another thing to consider is the treatment for mental health. According to psychologists, the relocation process is ranked as one of the top stressful events in someone’s life. Part of the duty of care is to provide mental health coverage, and companies should acknowledge the inherent stress. Many companies provide an Employee Assistance Plan (EAPs). These plans provide the employee a great mental health resource.

Benefits of Duty of Care in Relocation Policy

When you have a proper duty of care instated within the employee relocation policy, it will help your employees and the development of your business. Here are some reasons why the duty of care in employee relocation is necessary. 

Attracting and Retaining the Right Talent

Irrespective of the industry you are operating in, you always want to have the best employees for your business. Since talent doesn’t always reside locally, you must provide the right relocation policy to attract and retain talent.

Getting the Right Support from the Right Places

When you have a duty of care within the employee relocation policy, you will be warranting that the employee gets all the right support from the HR department and other suppliers who are part of your relocation policies. This may include many types of providers who will provide information about schools for children, finding the right home in the new location, selling a home in the old location, in addition to many other services. 

Ensuring Fairness

One of the biggest hassles that employee relocation managers and businesses face are different relocation benefits among the same grade of employees. This is exacerbated when there is not a relocation policy in place. A proper relocation policy and duty of care outline the support and benefits that an employee is supposed to have during and after the location to a particular place. 

Cost Control

The last thing you want as an employer is to throw away money for lack of a relocation policy, or for your company to get embroiled in a legal battle with an employee for not taking care of them. When you have a relocation policy along with the duty of care, you will keep your employees happy and benefit from cost-effective relocations.  

Contact us to discuss creating or reviewing your current relocation policy.

Competitive Real Estate Market and Relocating Your Employees

A recent study conducted by IBIS World stated that in the last five years, the Employee Relocation Industry has had a growth of $13.9 billion, which is at 0.4 percent annually. It is believed that the impetus for this growth is due to the rising economy and corporate profit. The other factor that boosted the Employee Relocation Industry is the housing market’s positive trend in the last few years. A substantial share of the revenue for the Employee Relocation Industry is generated from the real estate market.

As a result, the study concluded that in 2021 alone, the growth in the economy and house pricing index likely contributed to about a 7.8 percent increase in the Employee Relocation Industry. Unfortunately, this improvement came at a time when the industry is immensely affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While some employees refused to relocate due to health issues, and with a drastic loss of employment in parts of 2020 and 2021, the Employee Relocation Industry suffered. But with work-life coming back to normal, the relocation of employees is picking up. Furthermore, with the new trend of the Great Resignation, companies and employers are looking to hire talent beyond domestic boundaries. However, the incentive offered to talent doesn’t end here. The existing employees can rise vertically or horizontally within the company to ensure they are retained. 

In such a scenario, where real estate plays an important part in relocation, we need to see how it affects an employee. In many situations, the employee needs to sell a property before relocation and/or purchase a new property in the new location. In this article, we will investigate the effects real estate has on the relocation of an employee and how an employer can help. 

Perspective of an Employee 

For many employees, buying and/or selling their house is critical for relocation, hence understanding their experience would help the employer to prepare and offer a better relocation outcome. 

Low-Inventory and High Prices 

Across the country, many home buyers are facing difficulty with purchases because of the record-high prices in the real estate market. While that bodes well with any employee selling the house for relocation, there is another issue. When the same employee searches for the house in their new destination, they are looking at a price that can be higher than expected. They can also be in the situation of losing out on multiple bids or they may feel rushed to buy an overpriced property. Given such a situation, there are ways the employer can help the relocating employee. 

Employer Can Help to Relocate an Employee 

If you are still wondering why there should be a relocation program for the current real estate market, the answer is simple. The last thing you would want is for your employee to leave your company because of a tough home purchase experience. Furthermore, without a mobility or relocation program in place, you are in the position to lose out on more money. You may lose time, for example, if the employee is outbid by others for a new home, thus delaying their relocation time. You also might receive more exception requests, for example, if the person is moving into an expensive real estate market.  

So, how can an employer help an employee with the relocation program? 

Extending the Corporate Housing Benefits 

If you already don’t have one, you should provide your employee with corporate housing benefits. In case you already have the benefit in place, it is time to extend the benefit longer. Corporate housing offers the transferee a short stay in fully furnished accommodations until they find a new place to call home. But this stay cannot be for an indefinite period. With relocating employees having a hard time finding a house in this real estate market, extending the stay should be an option when applied for by the employee. 

Extending the Timeline 

The high-priced real estate market, with delayed enclosures, travel bans, and the introduction of an air-bubble due to the pandemic resulted in employees failing to utilize the relocation policy within the stipulated time. As a result, some people failed to relocate within the required timeline and had to forgo the benefits. Employers should evaluate existing relocation policies. The impetus is on employers is to identify the areas where they can extend timelines and offer the benefits to the relocated employee, mainly when it comes to real estate. 

Final Words 

One of the best ways to execute an employee relocation assistance program is to work with an experienced Relocation Management Company (RMC). An RMC can help your employees with relocating, finding the right house/closing, plus the many other steps needed in an employee’s relocation. An RMC can also design a cost-effective relocation policy that serves transferees’ needs while still saving your company money.

What is Repatriation Assistance?

What is Repatriation?

Repatriation occurs when an expat employee returns to their home country. Unfortunately, it’s oftentimes an overlooked benefit in employee relocation packages. The process isn’t always easy on the assignee and can result in costly expenditures for your organization. However, if you have a clear plan in place to tackle these challenges, you’ll be ahead of the game.

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The Challenges of Repatriation

These are some of the challenges your expat employees might face when repatriating, and how to navigate these changes.

1. First, remember there will be changes in their job role: The repatriating employee may not know a lot about his or her next role yet, which is why it’s important to stay in contact during the change. Work out a plan with your repatriating employees so they each know what role in the company they will have when returning from their assignments. Even if they will retain their current position or title, their teammates and office culture will be changing once more.

2. Second, employees’ families will also be going through the adjustments: Just like relocating in the first place, it is important to make every effort to help assimilate employees’ family members during and after the move. Does your relocation package include spousal assistance to help the spouse or partner find a job and get re-assimilated? Offering school search benefits will also help when re-assimilating children, as their needs may have changed since they have been abroad.

3. Next, employees will need to re-adjust to their “home” surroundings: While employees may be moving back to their home country, they may not be moving back to the same location within that country. Your repatriation program should be prepared for aspects of the home location that will have changed from the last time the employee lived there.

4. Focusing on these three challenges will help your employees overcome the last potential hurdle of repatriation: Changing their perspective of where “home” is. Employees and their families have potentially been on assignment for a long time, and the country they are coming from may now feel like home. As the employer, be prepared to help those repatriating to think of this next location as home once more. Embracing and overcoming the changes of moving again will help employees re-identify with the location faster and allow you to be assured of their successful repatriation.

Source: Worldwide ERC®’s “Effective Repatriation Planning” Presentation, March 2017

How WHR Group Can Help

WHR Group has helped companies relocate their employees to countries all over the globe. We offer full repatriation program management, including program guidance and ongoing talent management recommendations to ensure your employees feel welcome, settled, and valued back home.

Relocation, Why Do You Need to Focus on Mobility Initiatives?

The global economy is changing, and while it is here to stay, it is time for companies to develop their hiring and employment structures to think beyond domestic borders. Employers should be able to give their employees the right position within the company irrespective of the location.

  1. Deploying Talent in the Market

The speed to market is more cut-throat than ever before in this technology-driven era. However, the failure to put the right talent in the market first means you are opening up space for your competitor, thereby giving them visibility and improved market share. 

As an employer, this isn’t something you would want; therefore, you need a global mobility plan with a cohesive process where your employee gets all the necessary support in relocation, payroll, taxes, immigration, and more. Establishing a proper mobility initiative is essential in creating a global brand.

  1. Mitigating the Risk 

If you do not have a mobility program within your business, it doesn’t mean the organization cannot have mobile employees. You can deploy the right resources in new locations and markets without a concise plan, but there is always the chance of entry being denied in case of international mobility. 

Even within national mobility, your employees can be subjected to pay taxes for multiple locations, succumb to higher tax bills, or it may even cause your company to become taxable in the new location. By having a proper system in place for mobility/employee relocation, you can mitigate unwanted administrative burdens and unexpected costs.

  1. Controlling the Costs 

Often, management groups decide not to have a mobility initiative program as part of the company policy because it costs more. But it’s time to think differently. When you have a proper and planned mobility initiative program, you will be saving more money in the long run. The simple reason is you have a plan in place that is state, federal, and internationally compliant.

  1. Closing the Talent Gap 

Borders no longer define the war for talent. When you hire international employees or send your local talent to new venues, you are not only allowing them to learn something new. Your talent will use that knowledge to benefit your business in the long run. It’s time you identify employee’s potential. Help them develop and nurse their talent by relocating them with good packages and compensation benefits to manage your talent shortage.

  1. Offering A Seamless Experience

Suppose you have decided to relocate your talent to a new place. Without a mobility initiative in place, the employee must figure out the relocation process on their own. They will need to figure out how they will be moving their goods. In the case of an international move they must know the immigration process, the legal implications of earning in a foreign land, taxes, and on top of all that they must learn to adjust to a new culture. 

All these hassles can impact their performance and their ability to do their job. It may even drive them to leave the company due to these high-stress situations. With a mobility program in place, you can sort all these issues out beforehand and offer your employee a positive and seamless moving experience. This will benefit your company in retaining the talent.

By integrating mobility initiatives into your business plan, you are saving time, money, and setting your business up for success. If you are looking for experts who can help you with relocation programs and strategies, contact WHR Group, Inc. (WHR).

How Relocation Management Helps Talent Mobility Strategies

A study revealed that 20.2 million employees left their employment between May and September of 2021, with 73 percent of employers in North America finding it hard to attract employees. While there have been many reasons that have led to this great resignation trend, the duty is now on the organizations and employers to be agile and flexible when it comes to retaining their workforce. 

Employers need the best talent. It is also crucial that employees are given the right motivation to meet the high standards of the organization and stay on the job. One way is to build talent management into the company’s hiring system, which should also include talent mobility and relocation management. You may be wondering why these two are important in retaining your workforce and how each of these fits with each. Read further as we unravel the entire picture for you. 

What Is Talent Mobility?

If we put it simply, the concept of talent mobility is the migration or moving in-house company talent to another place or job position where the person will be the most effective for the enterprise. The practice of talent mobility is to warrant that the employee gains new skills by moving within the organization. With new roles and responsibilities offered to them, the employee should not feel stagnant and stays with the company. The process aims to develop the talent and put them in the right place of the organization, so the result is developing a successful business. 

What Is Relocation Management? 

Relocation management is the process of a provider offering expedited relocation logistics for other companies and its employees to both domestic and international places. A relocation management company works with an enterprise or business in relocating the employers’ employees in an effective and cost-efficient manner. A business hires a relocation management company to warrant a hassle-free relocation process for the employees since it is a complex process. It is also time-consuming, personally challenging for the employee, and an expensive process when left to the device of the employee or even the HR of the business.

Well-established relocation management companies will provide software along with mobile and web applications that the employee and employer can access easily to get on board with the relocation process. All the required information for a smooth transition will be available to the employee about the new place and the procedures they must undertake for the relocation. 

Single Platform 

Relocation management software needs to be in place when talent mobility is part of a company’s process. The software should be robust enough to clearly cover the process for management, HR, and the employee who is being relocated. Additionally, a single platform should be able to handle the vendors engaged, the key compliances, important dates pertaining to relocation to warrant accountability by all the parties involved in the relocation process for a seamless experience. 

Signing Documents 

A relocation management company like WHR has the technology so that the employer, the employee, and HR can access the same platform for signing the necessary documents required for relocation. The automated service of sharing the data and documents with the signees makes the process smoother. It ensures all the documents are in place, and each one has their own copy without the possibility of missing any, which can happen with paper documents. 

To Conclude

By integrating relocation management into talent mobility, your company is preparing a better experience for your relocating employees while ensuring you save money in the process. WHR offers a comprehensive relocation management program with years of experience in the field. You can trust that you and your employees are in good hands. 

Managing Remote Employee Relocation Requests During COVID-19

It was reported that almost 22 percent of the US adult working population either moved or knew someone who moved during the pandemic, and those relocating also opted for remote working. With remote working becoming the new normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many employees seeking to move back to their home country, organizations still face significant relocation requests. The reasons for relocation range from the desire to be closer to the family, and at times, also enjoying a ‘workcation’ while being in an exotic place. Employees believe that if they had managed to be fully efficient and effective during the pandemic for over a year, they wouldn’t have any problem working after relocating to their preferred place and working remotely.

While relocating employees has traditionally been a planned-out solution, a relocation request for remote working by an employee has increased dramatically.   In most cases, allowing the employee to relocate for remote work to a new country or region brings with it a set of potential legal and tax challenges for the employer and the employee; however, during the pandemic, companies have been much more flexible in approving these relocations to retain talent.

How can a company manage remote employee relocation requests due to the pandemic?

How To Master Remote Employee Relocation Requests? 

In light of the global pandemic there are many employees requesting a relocation back to their home country. These same employees plan to continue working remotely for the foreseeable future. As the request for relocation by the employees continues to rise, there are several steps the employer can use to master the relocation request made by the employee. 

Listen To the Request 

Don’t say no immediately when an employee comes with a relocation request and has a desire to work remotely. If you go by the findings of the research, 74 percent of employees will stay with their employer when they are allowed to relocate and work remotely. In the long run, agreeing to the relocation and allowing your employees to work remotely will benefit your company, as you can retain the talent.

Transparent Guideline and Procedure

The best way to ensure that the employees stay focused and committed to their company and job, is to create an environment where their requests are being heard, and that their wishes are taken seriously. A transparent procedure will allow for all requests to be known and provide insight into what employees may be at risk in leaving the company. It also creates a trusting atmosphere where all employees are treated equitably.   

Involve the Employees 

If an employee is interested in remote working and wants to relocate to a new country during the pandemic, use their enthusiasm to do the research. Make them research and understand the new country’s compliance-related policies and contribute to understanding how it works. It will also provide you with insight into your own company’s tax exposure and if you are creating a taxable burden for your organization.

Keep Track of the Employee

Whenever an employee engages in a remote working facility outside of the company’s entity locations, you need to ensure they are not creating a tax burden for the company and exposing the organization to a new country’s tax laws. Given this possibility, it is your responsibility to ensure your company is in compliance. You may have to say no if it creates a financial and tax burden for the company. 

Get A Professional 

Irrespective of whether you relocate an employee for your business or have received a request from an employee, involve a Relocation Management Company (RMC) like WHR Group, Inc. (WHR) to administer the relocation process. A professional RMC can provide the appropriate guidance to alleviate risk and engage and manage the right professionals needed in the process.  

If you follow these simple tips as an employer, you shouldn’t have any issues with remote employee relocation requests. Even after COVID-19, these are appropriate protocols to have in place as remote working doesn’t seem to be going away.   

Final Words

With social distancing remaining the new normal, remote working at least a few days a week has also become the trend. If you want to reap the benefits of managing from home, do listen to your employee’s request for relocation and allow them the opportunity to work from a place of their choosing. Leave the process of relocation to a professional relocation company like WHR and retain your company talent.