There’s a buzz in the air, with more people considering the possibility of working overseas, blurring the lines between professional commitments and personal aspirations. But how do businesses manage this new wave of global mobility without getting caught in a web of complexities?
A thoughtful global mobility policy is the answer. It acts as a compass, guiding businesses through the intricacies of managing overseas employment. With a solid policy in place, businesses can effectively manage risks, ensure legal compliance, and maintain cost efficiencies, creating a balanced and productive global work environment.
The essence of a good global mobility policy lies in its alignment with business strategies, clarity in execution, and adaptability to evolving circumstances. It’s about crafting a policy that resonates with organizational objectives while being flexible enough to accommodate the unique needs and aspirations of employees. Some of the benefits of a Global Mobility Policy are:
It enables businesses to mitigate the risks associated with travel, including changes in laws and practices. Managing these risks is crucial to avoid limitations on future business opportunities in a country due to inadequate visas. The risk managed might cover risks to the business ( tax, social security and immigration) as well as those to the individual (these same risks as well as personal risks, such as having the correct vaccinations prior to travel).
It can help the business to budget and manage costs by detailing compensation packages and perhaps mandating cost estimates in certain cases.
It can lead to tax efficiencies by allowing planning ahead of someone relocating.
It can help with perceptions of fairness and equality; an individual finding out that they are on a less competitive package than a colleague will at best be disgruntled, and in a worst case scenario leave you for a competitor or claim that you have been discriminatory.
It can link in with sustainability objectives, for example by linking in with a travel policy that limits the number of short trips.
A good policy will...
Be aligned to business strategy
Are there locations that you will find it difficult to get people into? Are there locations that the business is keen to expand into?
Be fair & clear
Setting out the support an individual will get in terms of relocation and tax assistance.Will you help them with their tax return?
Outline a compensation package
Is it within your policy to provide trips home? How many?
Make it clear who pays the tax on what (benefits, compensation, allowances)
Is the individual equalised, are certain benefits subject to gross-up for example? The policy should outline precisely how it works, who has what responsibilities and when.
Detail the process that needs to be followed for each move
Does a cost estimate need to be prepared? Who needs to sign off? What happens if something changes?
Be flexible and capable of review
If you find that either you or the business are always discussing exceptions to policy, is it still fit for purpose?
Assign roles and responsibilities
Who is responsible for performance management? If it is business driven, how does the business ensure it discharges its duty of care to the individual? Who is responsible for that?
Consider the employee's return
What happens when the employee wants to return home – is there a place for them in the home business?
There is never one size fits all and a clear understanding of the risks and costs you are seeking to mitigate is key. How you manage a 2 year assignment to China where the assignee is accompanied by his or her spouse will be very different to a single person going to work permanently in the Netherlands.
You might be prepared to offer more benefits to someone who is going somewhere at the request of the business and who is critical to the outcome of a deal compared to someone who is going to work in Tenerife during the winter months purely out of personal choice. You might limit some moves to certain levels or certain roles.
Whatever you include, the policy needs to align to your culture and your business. The important thing is agreeing that with your stakeholders, documenting it and then implementing.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and may not reflect the opinions or views of Workia. Always seek professional advice based on actual circumstances before acting.