What help do you need to manage a global assignment?
Organising a global assignment –or multiple global assignments – is a complicated business and it can feel like an awful lot to do on your own. Fortunately, there is a myriad of suppliers all willing to help you (for a fee, usually) in all aspects of your global mobility programme. Some focus on delivering services directly to you, while others work with the assignees themselves –which in turn lightens the burden supporting them.
We thought it would be useful to list the kinds of support that are available to HR teams. Since different organizations work in different ways, you may want to pick and choose from the list below to suit your own situation, the needs of your assignees, and to complement the in-house experience and resources you already have.
According to research by the Forum for Expatriate Management, tax is the discipline most frequently outsourced by global mobility departments, which is not surprising, given the complexity and volatility of tax regulations around the world – and the risk of getting it wrong.
The relocation expenses, international payments and salary provision involved with global assignments presents a headache that is often best left to specialists. Salaries may be paid locally and all payments need to be checked, reconciled, reported and paid efficiently and effectively – ensuring compliance and minimizing risk. In addition, external data providers may be used to help calculate compensation packages and budgets that correspond to the cost of living in the host country.
Immigration advice and law
The organisation of work permits and other necessary paperwork is another area where global mobility professionals may seek specialist help, especially when global assignments break new ground and take employees to unfamiliar countries. While EU workers can travel freely within EU countries, for example, regulations can be more stringent elsewhere.
Global mobility departments or indeed expats seeking accommodation in a new host country can use all the help they can get. Choosing accommodation often requires local knowledge, all while other parameters like budgets and standards need to be factored in. Relocation companies can play a big role here. Provide them with your global assignee needs, they are experts in finding the best property to match a company’s housing policy.
Cultural and language training
The need for training will depend on a number of factors, including the host country, the assignee’s level of knowledge (and language), not to mention the strategic importance of the assignment. Courses and online study programmes are widely available that can cover everything from broader cross-cultural awareness to advanced language instruction.
At the heart of the whole operation sits the moving partner, who will take on the task of moving goods to the new host country, whilst also typically taking care of customs clearance and insurance issues. What’s more, most quality moving companies are also able to offer relocation assistance and even have departments tasked specifically for this. Their areas of expertise can include anything from pet moving to school and accommodation searches.
Make things more manageable by reducing the number of parties
By now it’s clear that an international move entails far more than just moving boxes, and that a whole range of parties can step in to help. Luckily, you can also consolidate services into one partner to make things easier to manage. An experienced relocation partner, for example, often does much more than shipping goods. A FAIM-certified moving company will also act as a central point of contact: even if they don’t handle services like school searches directly, they still handle thousands of global assignee moves per year. Consequently, they’d have an extensive portfolio of third party suppliers on hand to help meet all of your needs.
Pictures by Alex Blajan, Fabian Blank, Arno Smit, Mike Wilson