17 Aug Why a Group Relocation is a Big Responsibility that Requires Careful Budget Planning
Group relocation is another trend that global mobility specialists should be aware of and prepare for. Recruiting an individual assignee from another country is already considered part of their skill set, and the possibility of including his family with the transfer can be done easily and efficiently once the global mobility specialists have all the right elements in place, e.g. age and number of kids, preference of spouse to work in the country of employment.
Group relocation can apply to one solid working team that has been working efficiently and harmoniously in one office and now must be moved as a singular unit to another working destination. The dynamics that run this particular kind of relocation is different. The questions that your assignees may ask you and the issues they raise are another. You would also have to check and recheck your budget and other expenditures involved, and not just assume that they will conform to your usual template of the relocation of an individual assignee which may or may not include his family.
Shareholders must be on board
The first vital element to making a group relocation successful is that all shareholders, especially your assignees and their families, must buy in to the idea.
Chances are they may not have a choice and will just comply because the possibility of relocation should have been written into their contract. If not, then this is an issue that you must immediately address with legal and human resources. Still regardless of the legalities, your group of assignees must be made to be motivated and enthusiastic weeks or even months before the physical relocation.
As advised by Aires, they have to know why they are being relocated, what the value proposition for the company is in all these new adjustments and the advantages that this change will present to them as well. Otherwise, unspoken, reluctance and even disappointment can set in, which could affect productivity, efficiency, and team morale.
Put yourself in their shoes. Your assignees had already adjusted working together in their country. They have become a good fit and know that they are making a definite contribution in this particular region. They have become familiar with the lifestyle of their communities and they have made friends and acquaintances. In short, they have found a second home. Now, you will relocate these foreign nationals to another country, say the United States, which might not have been their first choice when they signed up. (Chances are they agreed to go on board because they wanted to work in the U.S.)
This move in itself will mean uprooting themselves again and assimilating in another culture and adjusting to a country’s culture and corporate etiquette. Add to that those who brought their families as well as the pressure of having their spouses and kids find their own ways of belongingness and happiness in their new post.
The bottom line: You have to sell your assignees on the idea long before you put them and their loved ones on that airplane.
One way to make the transition easier is to find partner institutions in those regions that can make them feel at home again. As an example, if the destination of the group relocation is the U.S., property development companies like California Corporate Housing can help facilitate a big group relocation in the San Francisco Bay Area, as it has always done for many of these relocated talents for the companies that hire them. While safety, security, and privacy are assured, there is also enough space for each foreign national to customize his furnished apartment that suit his taste and fits his cultural background, whether he or she is coming from abroad or somewhere in the States.
Manage and stick to a budget and expenditure plan
The second most important thing executives need to do is to manage and stick to a budget and expenditure plan. Global mobility specialists are already aware (or they should be) of the dismaying fact that not all domestic or expatriate travel expenditures can be accounted for.
While it can be easier to keep tabs on the initial financial overlay and ongoing spending if the assignees are working right in your turf, e.g. the U.S., managing the accounting of a group of assignees in a foreign country can become a problem if it is not done right.
As K-2 Corporate Mobility suggests, plan your budget in great detail once the relocation project has been allotted. Determine the resources that would be dedicated to each aspect of the relocation. Have a very clear idea of how much you are paying for all the items covered by the move. While there is a great chance that you would contract a third party to do the actual accounting and auditing of your newly relocated group, you yourself must continually monitor that expenses are on track, KPI’s are being met, and no unforeseen charges are happening.
Third, be prepared to make multiple visits to the new work location. While digital tools like Skype and HR Tech help you coordinate with your assignees 24/7, nothing still beats having boots on the actual ground. Remember that you cannot expect this relocated group to acclimatize to their new country or region of work right away. The environment may be more traditional and rigid than the diversity-welcoming cities or too laid-back. The infrastructure might not be as efficient and assuring to assignees who had gotten used to certain amenities.
This team as a whole may be reacquainting themselves with each other once they encounter challenges on another foreign soil. For example, some of these assignees who come from countries who had previously been at loggerheads with each other can keep their in-built resentments and prejudices while they are working in a U.S. company that emphasizes democratic values. But if relocated to another country with a tradition that is aligned more with one set of assignees than the other, all those hidden social tensions might unravel, simmer, and explode — to the detriment of the entire team, the damage of morale, and the reduction of productivity. Still, if this groups have worked together before and will be working together again, they should get along just fine.
Your frequent visits can go a long way in putting a lid on potential problems like this. They can also boost your team’s morale. You yourself would see first-hand the difficulties and new issues that they are facing. You would have greater insights in addressing their issues and mentoring them once you yourself immerse in this new culture. As your relocated team grows, so do you. Think of it as preparation, as you transition from being a global mobility specialist to a global mobility leader.