Everyone Wants to Travel – But How Will You Manage the Costs? image

Everyone Wants to Travel – But How Will You Manage the Costs?

Controlling relocation and employee mobility costs is not a new priority for mobility professionals and HR leaders. However, with an increased expectation of travel opportunities from new hires, how costs are being controlled is evolving. Corporations are looking at ways to control overall mobility program costs — or at least keep them constant — while moving more employees.

No longer can your mobility programs just address the needs of the experienced professionals and their families. In order to compete for top talent, you need to be prepared to offer international or domestic assignments, either long- or short-term, to all levels and employee types in your organization.

More than ever, employers are looking at more diverse assignment types, while there is also a greater emphasis on increasing the number of employees that are likely and able to accept these types of moves. As such, mobility programs are including flexibility to address the needs of all employees, including groups like single parents who face unique challenges with any kind of relocation.

What do all of these changes mean for you? Read on to find out.

More Bang for the Mobility Dollar

65% of all companies are using mobility programs for talent development

Source: Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2019 Study

Employers are developing more flexible mobility offerings and programs that support the use of international and domestic travel in a more efficient, cost-effective way. There has been a significant increase in the use of short-term assignments to promote mobility opportunities for early career and professional-level employees, such as millennials who are looking for an opportunity, at a lower cost to the business. For the same reason, we are seeing an increased use of business travelers and extended business travelers. These shorter-term assignments are instrumental in providing significant developmental opportunities while containing costs.

Scaled back expat lite or core/flex policies for long-term assignments are continuing to gain momentum to aid in international and domestic relocation for internal employee transfers. Employers are also finding ways to accommodate employee-driven relocation requests by providing opportunities for permanent/one-way international transfers. Many companies are adopting a host-based compensation approach by severing ties with the home country and all “assignments” are indefinite or permanent transfers. The cost savings associated with removing the equalizing concept for home-based assignments can be significant.

Employers are finding that these alternative, more flexible arrangements can lead to overall more effective talent management for the entire employee lifecycle by aiding with attraction, talent development, and retention.

  • Offering travel as a key element in developing talent is a significant enhancement to the value proposition when attracting and engaging employees.
  • As we all become more globally aware, and as borders evaporate in the world of business, providing opportunities to become embedded in other cultures while making meaningful contributions to the company is priceless.
  • Employees don’t stay at one company for a long period of time anymore. They’re on the hunt for the next great experience. Why not provide them with that exciting experience and retain them while enriching them as an employee? The cost savings are realized many times over by avoiding the hiring and training costs for new employees.

With the rise of the Gig Employee, we know that now more than ever employees are comfortable with some uncertainty with the next step in their career. This has led to a greater acceptance of indefinite or permanent international transfers, which are now far less expensive to administer and offer to employees.

What You Need to Do

Whether or not you currently have a mobility program in place, it’s a good time to take a step back and assess how it’s working for you now and in the future. Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Discuss with key stakeholders the value of mobility within their organizations. Where does it “sit?”
  2. Are your mobility offerings designed to suit a variety of employees? If not, how can they change?
  3. Are there key talent development needs that would benefit from offering employee short-term relocation? Are there staffing needs that would benefit from the same?
  4. How are we measuring cost today? Are we making the most efficient use of our mobility dollars?

Keep in mind, it is still most prevalent to offer a home-based balance sheet approach for international assignments and there are employee groups that expect (and even demand) traditional assignment packages before agreeing to accept an assignment. Therefore, it is important to benchmark and involve key internal stakeholders prior to making any significant program changes.

For More Information

Looking for more information on making mobility work in your organization? Visit iMercer.com for information on Mercer’s mobility tools and resources.


About the Authors

Liz Robinson, author

Liz Robinson is a Senior Consultant with Mercer, based in its Chicago office. Liz brings over 13 years’ experience in the global mobility industry with her start as a Senior Consultant in the Global Employer Services practice at Deloitte. Prior to joining Mercer, Liz worked as an in-house Global Mobility Manager at several global companies. She has supported both international and domestic relocation programs. Liz is a graduate of Saint Xavier University where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

Tamara LaMantia, author

Tamara LaMantia is a Senior Associate in Mercer’s Career Practice with over 10 years’ Global Mobility, Compensation and Human Resources experience. Now based in Los Angeles, Tamara has worked in Mercer offices in Chicago and Munich, Germany while advising multinational clients on strategic, cost effective, approaches to compensate their global workforces. Prior to joining Mercer, Tamara worked in Compensation and HR Administration for large organizations. Tamara is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where she received a Bachelor’s in International Management and of Loyola University Chicago where she received her Masters of Science in Human Resources.