• Mobility Program Review (COVID or not!) – Part 2: Don’t Forget to Include ‘Duty of Care’


    In our previous blog we remarked how well-managed organizations, with the benefit of the better part of a year’s experience in with COVID, are stepping back into their continuous program planning and evaluation cycle. We have been helping by conducting supplier audits as a means of assessing the service delivery model. But companies are not just relying on audits to evaluate their mobility program, they are also re-examining policy design.

    One of the main drivers for mobility program design is the organization’s “duty of care” obligation. And while the focus is more often directed to other drivers (e.g., competitiveness, business unit requirements and employee needs), “duty of care” is thrust back to the forefront when significant events present us with a whole new level of global risks to manage. Corporations are seeking reassurance that their program delivers the appropriate level of safety, security and well-being for its transferees and accompanying family members, both at the legislated level, as well as at other levels within the corporate risk management framework.

    Core/Flex programs are a good example for “duty of care” considerations. Their objective is to provide transferees with more control over their relocation by allowing them to direct available funds to services they believe are needed for their specific circumstances. The Core component consists of services offered regardless of how the Flex budget is used, and they are chosen with “duty of care” in mind. Companies have to ask themselves if they should re-examine the Core portion of the program at this time and decide if recalibration is required.

    “Duty of care” considerations apply to all types of programs, from the traditional fixed set of services to lumps sum schemes. One is not necessarily better than the other, but organizations must understand and balance their obligations with the approach chosen for their transferees.

    A design review, of course, involves more than examining one element of the program. It also involves rethinking mobility strategy in the context of the organization’s business goals: how are the relocation requirements changing, what is needed to increase acceptance rates, should certain benefits or services be enhanced or added to the program as enticements or for greater safety and well-being, is the current level of flexibility sufficient, what are the financial constraints? We have found that moderating focus groups with business units and/or employees to better understand their needs and concerns have provided valuable input into policy design.

    Another source of substantive input into the policy design process are benchmarking studies undertaken with a carefully chosen comparator group. We conduct these studies using our unique proprietary benchmarking tool in analysing best practices, costing policy design changes and comparing strategic options using client-specific transfer scenarios.

    We have also been quite busy rewriting policies to reflect changes as well as to provide any needed clarification. Employers have become more aware of late that a clear and explicit policy is enormously helpful to all parties in this more stressful and volatile global mobility climate.

    Once again, while the pandemic is certainly a valid justification for a policy design rethink, a continuous planning and evaluation cycle is set up to do just that. Ward O’Farrell consultants has been and continues to be available to support corporations in this essential process.