A key foundation of assignment success is
personal – it is entirely related to the happiness of the assignee and his or
her family. Assignments can fail when the family is not happy. Busier
expats on the move are looking for more mobile-friendly, streamlined and
integrated ways of supplying necessary data to the companies working with them.
Assignees want to receive information in bite-sized pieces that can be easily
absorbed while commuting.
While children can often be the most adaptable
on assignment, the spouse can be the most inflexible. When a spouse or partner
moves to the host location and is unable to work, finding a local support
network can be a significant challenge. A collaborative survey between NetExpat
and EY (to be released later this month) of more than 2,000 mobile
employees and over 1,000 spouses finds that 31 percent of employees felt that
their employer wasn’t paying enough attention to partner support, while 39
percent of the spouses indicated this was an issue. In addition, on a scale of
1 to 10, with 10 being extremely important, addressing relocating partner needs
was rated at 6.9 by a field of more than 300 corporate mobility contacts.
There is an interesting and positive convergence
of interests as companies are finding that they would like to see future
leaders have a more “global” mindset, and millennial employees are more
interested in global experiences. Millennials think and work globally, are
ambitious and versatile, and seek flexibility in terms of work time and
location. In response, more progressive mobility programs have introduced
scaled-back assignment policies and international leadership programs, offering
flexible forms of assignment support that recognize that fewer incentives are
needed to encourage mobility.
So how do companies, employees, and
mobility programs come together to meet everyone’s needs?
The idea of setting up a social media group or
an app is not a new one. What is new is the idea of developing a way in which
the employee can have a complete digital and integrated experience with both
the mobility team and its providers that minimizes their time and maximizes
their ability to gather relevant information in a streamlined way.
Spending time to evaluate what information is
truly necessary for international assignees and determining when they need to
receive it is critical. Leveraging the different media available helps to
optimize the experience from the assignee’s perspective. The ability to access
this information in a concise way and while on the move has become essential
for anything that we actually want the assignee to read, as emails and other
information fight for priority.
Understanding the best support that the company
can provide for the spouse or partner—within a given cost—and following through
are critical to assignment success. The NetExpat and EY survey highlighted that
the most impactful way to change the partner support policy is actually to improve
communication to partners, and thus enhance the visibility and awareness of the
support available. The challenge is that when this information is contingent on
the employee, it may or may not reach the partner.
One idea to improve the knowledge and usage of
programs, while also improving community connectivity in the host location,
would be to consider a spousal “peer” program for accompanying partners. For
implementation, partners of existing assignees would be asked to be a part of a
network to aid newly arriving partners. These individuals would spend time
orienting the arriving spouse to the local environment and culture. They could
also provide a handout containing information about the company’s spousal
Without question, the mobility function must
recognize that employees are looking for a streamlined, simplified, digital
experience that will not take up too much of their time. The mobility team must
evaluate its tools and partners to see how the end-to-end experience for the
assignee and partner can be improved. This doesn’t have to require significant
additional ongoing investment, but it does mean spending time to evaluate which
communication methods, family benefits, and data management will have a
profound effect on the assignee experience. The good news is that solutions
exist—and many are not costly—but they do involve a new way of thinking about
and supporting mobility.
This information is excerpted from a March 2017 Mobility magazine article.