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New England Relocation Association Holds Summer Conference

John Lambo - Jun 15 2022
Published in: Mobility
NERA Conference focused on Employee Well-being

The New England Relocation Association (NERA) held its summer conference on June 9, 2022, at the Four Points Sheraton in Norwood, Massachusetts. 

The theme of the well-attended conference was the timely topic of Mobility and Employee Well-being: How to Align in 2022. Speakers, panelists, moderators, and audience members, discussed several of the points noted in the WERC® article, A Silver Lining of the Pandemic, including recognizing the overall complexity of humanity and the many factors that contribute to a person’s well-being.

NERA President Liz Portella’s opening remarks included a warm welcome, theme, and schedule of the conference, NERA’s accomplishments and progress over the last 3 years as president of the organization, and recognition of NERA’s Board of Directors and various committees.

Board member Wendy Moore was introduced to speak on NERA’s charitable efforts. Moore joined Portella to note that the conference’s silent auction will be supporting the Red Cross.  Other NERA charitable gifts included medical supplies for Ukraine, a $500 donation to WERC®’s Ukraine disaster relief (matched by WERC),and donating to WERC’s Foundation Walk.

Andrew Walker, GMS-T, Global Total Rewards Leader, Ernst and Young, moderated a panel discussion on Mobility and Employee Well-being. Panelists were Luis Joia,Dassault Systèmes; Ernie Lorenzo, HP Hood; and Patricia Moulton, Staples.

Walker’s opening remark that the physical pandemic has also become a mental health pandemic set the stage for a robust discussion.

Panelists discussed their respective company’s efforts to recognize and honor the relocating employee’s multi-faceted lives that needs to be considered for a successful relocation.  Equality, flexibility, and tiered policies vs. one policy for relocating employees were several methods the panelist’s companies addressed the issue.

On a broader scale, panelists agreed that any effort to support all employees must be embraced by leadership, promoted to employees, and employees need to be encouraged to utilize services without stigma and judgment.

Later in the afternoon, industry experts shared mobility updates from their unique lens.

Alice Machado, Aires, discussed current trends in domestic mobility. Machado presented such topics as remote/hybrid work and coordination/consolidation of new destination-based benefits such as temporary living and home finding.

Mike Kluge, Rocket Mortgage, provided a mortgage industry update.  Kluge highlighted high rents and house prices, the relatively quick rise in mortgage rates, and if it may be time to reintroduce various mortgage subsidies such as Mortgage Interest Differentials and discount points to offset market conditions.

Suzy Patton, BGRS, explored trends in policy consultation. Patton centered her presentation on mobility “macro” trends and provided insight on personalized and flexible employee experiences, incorporating ESG and DE&IB into policy development, and addressing Duty of Care into employee well-being initiatives and policy design.

Allyson Stewart, Altair Global, highlighted global mobility trends commenting on international versions of core-flex policies and virtual work arrangements. As with domestic mobilities issues, global issues also need to be concerned with supply chain, and housing availability, and affordability.

Meghan O’Keefe, Corporate Immigration Partners, provided an overview of immigration issues of particular interest to mobility professionals, including an update on the H- 1B Visa cap.

Miki Matrician, WR Immigration, addressed immigration issues specific to Ukraine. Matrician, highlighted several options for Ukrainians trying to leave the country, including the Uniting for Ukraine Program.  The program is a new streamlined process to provide Ukrainian citizens who have fled Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression opportunities to come to the United States.

The conference closed with an interactive session with psychologist Linda Price.  Price spoke to the audience about the detrimental effects of chronic stress and how to combat it through yoga, exercise, and mindfulness. She also guided the audience through a mindfulness exercise

Afterward, NERA members and guests socialized with refreshments at the Four Points Sheraton’s poolside patio.