Is Your Employee Global Transportation Policy Strategic?

Ben Ivory, CRP, SGMS-T - Aug 14 2018
Published in: Ask the Experts

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 edition of Mobility Magazine.

A well-thought-out and professionally communicated employee household goods transportation policy provides direction and guidance for your employee, protects stockholders, equips recruiters and supports your mobility staff.

I’ve been around global relocation for a long time. I love the service side of the business, and I enjoy the relationships and the opportunity to try to make the relocation process better for families and their employers. I can honestly say that I have always enjoyed dealing with very difficult—and sometimes irrational—transferees.

I know that they are dealing with many challenges, have possibly been burned by a previous experience, and most often just need help getting through a challenging process. Usually with patience and understanding, and the support of competent colleagues and providers, these transferees can be won over. I think many of us in the industry feel the same way and love what we do.

While so many professionals,consultants, and policy gurus have redone policies and shared benchmarking data, I still see gaps and lack of detail regarding household goods transportation in some relocation policies. In my eyes, policies are meant to offer peace of mind, support, and education, especially for the transferee. They communicate to the employee, “You work for a smart global company,” “Your employer has a very good idea of what the employee needs to relocate successfully,” and “We care about you, and about doing what is right.”

Related: Corporations and Business Traveler Well-Being

I recently had the opportunity to review the policies of two globally active programs. One policy offered two paragraphs of 200 words to describe their household goods transportation benefit. The second policy was more detailed, with more than 500 words. Both policies covered other relocation aspects with significant detail. I then took time to identify what was missing. I looked at a number of policies to get ideas and best practices. Ultimately, my recommendation added 2,000 words to the policy. The following is a summary of what was added and who benefits.

Description of What Is Included and What Is Not

If your company has a “blank check” for relocation, maybe more detail is not needed. Most companies, however, have a culture to uphold and stakeholders to represent.

The culture may call for a “liberal” or “employee-friendly” approach, but it probably has limits. Stating what is included and what is not helps recruiters, employees, business unit managers, and mobility professionals know what makes sense and what doesn’t.

Providing clarity avoids making decisions by each employee move, which can be very sensitive, costly, and time-consuming.

An example: Pets are often very important to an employee and family. A good policy will define how far the company wants to go to assist the employee with their pet(s). Is the company willing to help get Barney, their big chocolate Lab, to their new home in Paris? Oh, and how about Pepper, their Alexandrine parrot?

Addressing the potential needs upfront demonstrates that your organization cares about what is important to the family and what the company chooses to offer.

Domestic U.S. and International Components

Moves within a country, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, or Brazil, have different issues and opportunities from those of a cross-border international move. A good policy will address these differences.

For example, in Germany, movement of kitchen cabinetry is common but can be expensive. Your decision to support these services should be driven by your strategy, frequency, and values. Furthermore, cross-border moves have many customs ramifications.

Most countries allow duty-free entry of goods only if the goods have been owned for a period of time (six to 12 months). If an employee purchases new items prior to the move, the costs of taxes can be enormous. A well-written policy will address these issues and will avoid costly and complicated surprises for all parties.

Related: Tips for Achieving Family and Assignee Success

Valuation Coverages

Employers take a considerable risk if the employee does not understand or accept the valuation coverages that apply when moving their possessions. The key words are “their possessions.”

Read the rest of this article in the August 2018 edition of Mobility Magazine.