A good global mobility policy is key to successful international employee relocations
Does your company have a global mobility policy? In our global economy, unexpected needs to relocate an employee for a temporary or long-term international assignment can arise at any time. Whether your business currently has never moved talent before, or only relocates employees domestically, it’s wise to develop a global mobility program before it’s required.

An international mobility program is more complex than moving employees within the same company. It involved managing more services, details, tax implications, legal, and compliance issues. The needs of an employee relocating internationally vary by scenario, but working from a global mobility policy template will expedite urgent decisions when the need to send an employee abroad arises.

In this article, we will outline what to include in an international mobility policy and provide the global mobility policy examples that the relocation consultants at NRI Relocation present to our clients when they begin planning their global mobility program.

The Importance of a Global Mobility Program

The quality of an international relocation package is the difference between a successful and failed global assignment. Moving an employee to another country is a time-consuming and expensive undertaking. Companies must approach international relocation with a detailed budget, quality service plan, and seamless process. They also must take every step to ensure the happiness of the transferee and their family. 

While global mobility requires a lot of resources, the cost is low in comparison to the expense of an unsuccessful international assignment. The company risks losing a valuable employee, the trust of a disgruntled department or client, and time to complete the assignment’s task. A failed client assignment can put an entire project or client relationship in jeopardy.

Extensive global mobility program planning and detailed policies can help avoid these risks.

Types of International Assignments & Global Mobility Policy Tiers

The biggest variable in a global mobility package is the employee’s type of international assignment. The length and nature of their assignment will determine the global mobility policy tiers and the required international relocation services. There are three main types of international employee assignments:

Extended Business Travel Global Mobility Policy

If an employee is going abroad to work for three months or less, their global mobility is typically categorized as extended business travel. This tier has the least number of global mobility benefits and fewer needs for tax, immigration, and relocation services.

In this scenario, the talent usually remains employed in their home country. The main global mobility services they would need would be transportation and corporate housing accommodations.

Short-Term International Relocation Global Mobility Policy

When an employee works abroad for 3-12 months, it’s usually called a short-term international assignment. This type of relocation has more requirements for visas, tax consultation, transfer support, travel, and global mobility services. However, the employee is still considered to be based in their home country.
NRI Relocation coordinates both US and international corporate moves
This type of assignment has limited relocation benefits designed for a temporary stay while still maintaining a home and perhaps family life in their origin country.

Long-Term International Relocation Global Mobility Policy

Likely, the most extensive type of global mobility is a long-term international assignment in which an employee stays in a host country for a year or longer but is not permanently moving to the country.

The company must provide extensive services, resources, and care for employees moving abroad temporarily for work. These services include more complex tax and immigration assistance, destination resources and cultural training, significant moving services, extensive travel, support for the employee’s family, housing for the duration of the assignment, and repatriation.

Permanent International Corporate Relocation Global Mobility Policy

The last type of global mobility is a permanent international relocation in which the employee becomes a resident of another country. This international relocation policy tier requires extensive up-front services but fewer ongoing services.

The company will provide tax, immigration, relocation, and destination services for a successful relocation. However, after the initial arrival period, the global mobility policy will usually guide changes in compensation and benefits and leave the employee to arrange their new life in the country, including housing and arrangements for their family.

The Process of Creating a Global Mobility Program Strategy

A well-defined global mobility employee relocation policy by NRI Relocation is critical to attract and retain talent.
The global mobility process is lengthy and requires complex detail. Here is a summary of what the company and employees can expect.

Employee International Relocation Needs Assessment

NRI Relocation begins any international relocation process with a needs assessment. This helps companies understand the unique costs, challenges, and scenarios of their employees’ relocations, allowing them to plan better for success. Compared to domestic relocation, a more extensive needs assessment is required for global mobility.

The company should carefully choose the employee best suited for the assignment, considering whether they will succeed and thrive in the host country. 

An analysis determines the employee’s unique needs for a global mobility package and associated costs, including cost-of-living and tax implications. The needs assessment is individualized for each assignment, and one should be performed for each employee possibly moving abroad.

Once the company is confident, they should approach the employee with the opportunity and provide all the information necessary for the employee to make an informed decision for themselves and their family. The letter of assignment will detail the international relocation package, including all employee compensation and benefits for the duration of the assignment. This includes costs for the move and benefits for daily life, such as salary, vacation, and medical coverage.

Pre-Assignment Global Mobility Benefits & Support

If both the employee and the company are ready to proceed, the first step in the pre-assignment phase is to initiate the corporate visa and immigration process. This process determines the timeline for relocation.

Once the timing for the relocation is set in motion, the employee prepares for departure by undergoing medical exams and language and cultural training, as required. They will also make a pre-departure visit to the host country to plan their housing and life during their assignment.

Preparations are made for the employee’s departure, including their travel, moving of household goods, and arrangement of destination services.

On-Assignment Global Mobility Benefits & Support

While an employee works in a foreign host country, the company supports the assignment by covering the cost of corporate housing, transportation, and sometimes, allowances for food and other living expenses.
NRI Relocation has global mobility solutions to help settle employees and their families into a new country
Depending on the type of assignment, the company may also provide support for the employee’s family in the host country by covering education expenses for their children or providing career assistance for their partner.

Additionally, there may be other benefits, compensation changes, and cost of living adjustments for the employee during their time abroad.

International Employee Repatriation

If the relocation to another country is not permanent, then repatriation is the final phase of global mobility. This is particularly important for assignments lasting three months or longer, as the company will provide travel, departure services, and assistance with moving household goods back to the home country.

Using a Corporate Relocation Company to Manage a Global Mobility Program

Now that you understand a global mobility program process better, it may seem overwhelming. That’s why most companies hire a corporate relocation company to manage their international mobility program from top to bottom.

A global mobility management company’s expertise sets up assignments for success during pre-assignment planning. A relocation company has the knowledge to craft global mobility policies, assignment budget analyses, and letters of assignment that meet both employees’ needs and companies’ goals.

Global mobility consultants then work one-on-one with employees to coordinate all pre- and on-assignment international relocation services, including immigration, tax, housing, household goods move, destination services, and any other service required for a smooth assignment. This proactive management ensures quality relocation services and gives employees the attention they need during an overwhelming transition.

Managing global mobility is a complex job with many details and high stakes for the company, the employee, and the employee’s family. NRI Relocation’s global consultants work overtime to connect with employees in every time zone and find solutions for their needs.

The risks of a failed global mobility assignment are high, so the role of a corporate relocation company is to ensure its success.

Typical Global Mobility Program Services & Benefits

NRI Relocation, a corporate relocation company
These are the global mobility services typically included in a global mobility policy and package:

Global Mobility Management

The corporate relocation company manages the entire global mobility policy. They guide the company in planning and budgeting the policies and assignments. Then, the global consultants coordinate all the employees’ international relocation services.

Global Tax Consultation

Global mobility complicates tax. When an employee moves abroad, they may need to pay taxes in both the home and host countries.

The global tax consultant works with both the company and employee to track spending, maintain tax compliance, and determine the most adventurous tax strategy.

Global Compensation Analysis

When an employee lives or works abroad, it raises questions about salary, compensation, payroll, and cost of living. The relocation company creates a policy to solve these uncertainties and helps manage employee compensation and payroll for the duration of their assignments.

Visa & Immigration

An employee cannot relocate internationally without the proper Visa or immigration. The relocation management company coordinates the legal assistance for Visa sponsorship, immigration process, and managing all renewals and compliance.

Travel

International relocation involves various types of travel. This benefit covers the cost of airfare, ground transportation, hotel or temporary accommodations, per diems, and more for pre-assignment visits, home visits, and relocation trips. Additional travel benefits may also be necessary during the international assignment.
NRI coordinates travel benefits that may be necessary during international assignments.

Household Goods Relocation

For short-term, long-term, and permanent international relocations, the company provides household goods moving. This global mobility service usually includes air and container shipments for the employee and family’s personal belongings.

In some cases, storage may be required in the home country while the family is abroad.

Some employees may prefer furnished housing or a furniture allowance in place of a household goods move benefit.

Housing

Housing is a complex aspect of global mobility services and benefits, as it can take various forms. Companies may provide international corporate housing for the duration of the assignment, or they may offer other compensation or assistance to help employees rent their own residence in the host country.

Some companies also assist employees with their residence in their home country while they are away, which may include compensation for canceling their lease, paying for long-term storage of their belongings, or helping to coordinate a home lease or sale.

Corporate housing is less common for permanent international relocations, in which case the company will restructure compensation and provide guidance for renting or buying a home in the new country.

Language & Cultural Training

Employers offer language and cultural training to help employees and their families adapt to a new country. These benefits include language classes, cultural adaptation, and cross-cultural communication training.

NRI Relocation offers immersive culture and language training for employees.
This education eases the transition to a new country, reduces cultural shock, fosters better communication and understanding within the new cultural environment, and overall increases the success of the employee’s assignment.

Education & Family Support

The happiness of an employee’s family can significantly impact their decision to continue with a work assignment. Global mobility benefits for the employee’s family can be provided to ensure the assignment’s success.

In some cases, the company may cover the cost of the employee’s children’s education in an international school while they are living abroad. This helps minimize the disruption to the children’s development, even though they live in a foreign country where they may not speak the language.

Additionally, some employers offer spousal support to enable the employee’s partner to continue pursuing their career in a different country.

Destination & Settle-In Services

Destination services provide benefits that help employees and their families adjust to life in a new country. These settling-in services can include finding medical care, setting up bank accounts, getting help with utilities, identifying schools, purchasing vehicles, and more. These services are particularly important for international relocations where the employee will be living in the host country for a year or more.

Miscellaneous Allowances & Benefits

Each international relocation is unique. Employers include miscellaneous allowances and additional benefits to cater to individual global mobility needs, ensuring a successful assignment.

International Relocation Package Costs

NRI provides quality corporate movers for domestic or international household goods relocation
The expenses for each international mobility package are different, so careful budgeting is part of the needs assessment. These are the most significant impacts on the costs of a global mobility package:

Length of the Assignment

This has the biggest impact on the relocation package cost because it increases the number of required global mobility services and the ongoing expenses, such as housing, transportation, and education, for the duration of the assignment.

The longer the assignment, the bigger the global mobility benefits package. The exception is a permanent international relocation because it incurs fewer ongoing costs.

Household Goods Move

The household goods move is a significant portion of the global mobility package, and the costs vary. The further the relocation distance and the larger the household goods shipment, the more expensive the move.

Family Size

The size of the employee’s family will impact the housing and travel costs. It will also determine whether education or spousal benefits are required.

Employee Seniority

Executive relocations often require more services at higher price points to entice high-value talent.

Return Trips

How often will the employee return to the home country for work or personal family visits?

Repatriation

Is repatriation required for the assignment type? Which relocation services will need to be mirrored for the return trip home?

Taxes

The home and host countries’ tax policies can significantly impact the global mobility package’s expense.

Global Mobility Policy Example

If you want a more detailed global mobility policy example, fill out the form below, and we will send you the global mobility policy template that outlines the benefits of a global assignment.

The document outlines a sample executive relocation package for the four global assignment tiers: extended business travel, short-term assignment, long-term assignment, and permanent relocation.

Download a Sample Global Mobility Relocation Policy

Contact a Global Mobility Corporate Relocation Company

If you’re ready to start creating a global mobility policy for your company, NRI Relocation’s global consultants are here to help. We will start with a needs assessment for your employee’s needs, the goals for your international assignments, and the budget.