For relocation-focused businesses, it has obviously been a tough year. Not just for those companies whose product or service supports the relocation of professionals, but also for those companies with an investment in global mobility as a strategy for success.
Assisted by skilled global mobility experts, these large organisations are able to draw great benefit from the organisation and redistribution of skilled staff, bringing the right experience to the right global divisions. They are also able to use the lure of travel to recruit and retain the best talent – or at least that used to be true.
So FIDI members and their customers have suffered equally as travel volumes have plummeted. Yet as we start to reach the end of the commercial catastrophe that was 2020, we don’t think it’s all bad news...
Fewer, but better
Fewer assignments are happening. According to a recent report by pwc, less than a quarter of businesses expect to have similar volumes of people traveling in the future, and this figure is on a downward trend. Almost a third of companies surveyed in the same report say that COVID has fundamentally changed their global mobility strategy.
COVID has fundamentally changed global mobility strategy
However, with fewer moves happening it is becoming more important than ever to make these successful. The assignments that are going ahead are clearly the ones of high strategic importance, and the need to ensure success is higher because there is so much more to gain – or lose.
In addition, the cost of an unsuccessful assignment is arguably higher now than before because of the complications involved in repatriation. There have been many reports this year not only of the difficulty of getting families ‘back home’ but of the cost of doing so – which is not always funded by the government.
With fewer assignments, a greater risk of failure, there is more pressure than ever on global mobility professionals to manage them well.
The services required from FIDI partners are more likely to be cultural, local and expertise-based services
A spotlight on expertise
This puts the pressure on global mobility professionals – and in turn they are looking for the support to improve their chances of success.
There was a time when one of the main tasks for a relocation partner was to ‘look after the admin’ – i.e. to take up the low-value tasks that took up so much time for a busy global mobility team.
Now the internal global mobility departments are not weighed down by a high volume of assignments – instead they are under pressure from the importance of the few that they do manage. So, the services they require from FIDI partners are more likely to be cultural, local and expertise-based services, such as:
- Regional accommodation/school finding
- Local bureaucracy
- Immigration and visa support
- Customs clearance
- Cultural awareness training
- Local point of contact
- Emergency support
How does your relocation partner measure up?
This renewed emphasis on quality clearly also applies to your choice of relocation partner. The FAIM certification is designed to reflect many facets of quality – and continues to evolve to match the changing business and global mobility landscape.
For example, the new DSP certification launched by FIDI this year covers not just the skills and expertise of FIDI members, but also stipulates that FIDI members must be transparent about their own financial status. This gives an extra level of reassurance to clients that they are indeed taking on partners who are financially stable. In their 2019 report on the FAIM Financial Assessment results, EY* gives FIDI members high marks for solvency and stability, with 83% of affiliates having a “low-risk” rating.
* The company responsible for auditing the level of quality required for FAIM certification.
How to improve chances of success
Relocation specialists Graebel offer general advice on “remobilisation” – i.e. the task of getting assignees back out to their previous posts and resuming the global mobility strategy. Broadly, this advice can be summarised as:
- setting realistic expectations
- adopting flexible policies
- encouraging regular communications
- prioritizing assignments.
While it is clear that flexibility, communication and expectation management are important, it is prioritization that is the headline here. The important assignments will happen first and matter most. That demands quality and experienced global mobility professionals – supported by local FAIM-certified experts – are well placed to rise to the challenge.
Looking for high-quality local support for your assignments? Find a FIDI member here.
What else can you do to ensure a positive experience for your expats and a successful outcome for the business? Start by reading “Expat happiness: the constant pursuit of success abroad”.