Ask the Global Relocation Expert: Dos & Don’ts for a Global Mobility Newbie

I’ve worked with domestic transferees for quite a while but I’m brand new to global relocation. Do you have any dos and don’ts you can share for a global mobility newbie?

Dear Global Mobility Professional,
Congratulations on your new responsibilities! You’ll find that global mobility has some similarities to domestic relocation, but even more differences. Here are ten dos and don’ts for you, in no particular order:

DO’s
DO have the right tools, including cost estimators, policies and assignment letters. Your relocation management company can help you develop these if you do not already have them or if yours are outdated.

DO have a global mobility strategy. This does not need to be extensively detailed or overly formal, but it should reflect your company’s objectives, culture and HR philosophy. Your relocation service provider can help you to develop this.

DO get buy-in from management and work to align your talent mobility program with your company’s business objectives. This can be challenging, since HR and Global Mobility are sometimes viewed as road blocks to conducting business. Don’t give up!

DO have a support network of reliable subject matter experts, both external and internal: visa and immigration attorney(s), expat tax provider, relocation service provider, as well as global payroll, corporate tax and legal.

DO be compliant! If you, your company and/or your global assignees do not comply with immigration, labor and tax laws in the jurisdictions where you are conducting business it could mean fines, deportation, and even being banned from continuing to do business in that jurisdiction.

DON’Ts

DON’T wait for a need to present itself – be proactive! Needs can arise quickly and you will look much more authoritative if you’re prepared.

DON’T try to apply US domestic relocation policies to international transfers or expat assignments. This will only cause confusion for your employees and hiring managers, and create extra work for you in having to clarify what does and does not apply for an international move. Your domestic policies will also not include many of the services and considerations inherent in a global assignment.

DON’T offer straight lump sums of cash or allowances, without offering support or guidance and understanding any tax/legal ramifications. This could be costly from a tax perspective, and your employees will not appreciate it.

DON’T be rigid or inflexible. While compliance is important (see #1 under DOs), be creative in customizing solutions to meet your customers’ global mobility challenges. This will burnish your reputation as a knowledgeable, valuable partner.

DON’T get bogged down in the details. Global relocation is complex. Let someone help you. Ask your relocation service provider or your specialized experts for guidance. You can also take advantage of training and resources offered by Worldwide ERC, the Forum for Expatriate Management and other mobility organizations.

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