March 15, 2022
What a Relocation Consultant Would Like You to Know about Group Moves
International relocations are complex, and no two moves are alike, which keeps the life of a Relocation Management Company (RMC) consultant exciting. Now add in the dynamics of a group move, with all the moving parts of multiple employee and family transitions coming together at the same time. Sounds difficult? It can be – but working with an RMC and trained consultants who really care can make the difference for a successful group move program.
Partnership for success
Active partnership between a client and RMC is the secret to making a group move as seamless as possible, which in turn helps the international assignees get off to a great start. Consultants working directly with transferring employees appreciate open communication in several key areas:
- Policy Benefits: consistent application of policy benefits during a group move enables the consultant to manage employee expectations, and if flexibility is permitted by the policy, clear direction from the client is crucial to maintain confidentiality among the group move candidates.
- Immigration: when the RMC coordinates this process, the consultant is better able to manage the other aspects of the relocation. During a group move, the client typically expects employees to arrive and begin work in the host location at approximately the same time, requiring greater attention to the timetable for all.
- Budget: setting a realistic budget based on advice from the RMC can eliminate surprises and allows the consultant to take ownership of total costs for each move.
- Setting expectations: consultants are typically the single point of contact for the transferring employee and family, building trust by addressing concerns with empathy and staying consistent with the expectations set by the employer. Among the most important topics are the differences between the home and host locations and explaining any ramifications of visa delays.
The consultant’s toolkit
Group moves often include employees who have never moved internationally; some individuals may not have traveled to the host country either, making the adjustment potentially more difficult. Consultants know how helpful certain services can be in the assimilation process for the assignee and accompanying family members. We often recommend the following:
Candidate assessment – this survey helps determine if the employee and accompanying family are at the right stage in life for an assignment overseas.
Cross Cultural Training – a professional trainer explains how to adjust to the cultural differences of conducting business and living in the host country, taking into account not only where the employee is moving from but also their unique background.
Pre-decision trip – employees visit the host country with family prior to signing the letter of assignment (LOA); this helps them make their decision regarding the right fit at the right time.
Home finding trip – employees travel to the host country where a destination service provider and/or realtor meets with the family to show homes, schools and the general area to help acquaint the assignee and family with where they will live and work. This trip is frequently combined with business to help offset costs for the client.
Through all this, the consultant will monitor progress of the immigration applications. Knowing that visa approval timing can be unpredictable, the consultant will communicate calmly and patiently, and will coordinate the date of the final trip, temporary accommodations, and delivery of household goods accordingly.
Managing Exceptions to Policy
Approving exceptions can increase client costs over budget, therefore the consultant works diligently to minimize requests for exceptions. Reasonable exceptions could include additional time in temporary living if the visa process is slow. Policies should also be reviewed frequently with the RMC. When container shipping rates were low, it was not unusual to see a request for a larger air shipment be denied when policy directives were clear. In the current shipping environment, some clients are allowing more air freight to counteract extensive delays.
Consider Assigning Multiple Consultants to the Group Move
Sterling Lexicon recommends training several consultants to handle group move activities, as this provides peace of mind there is always a consultant available who is familiar with the client’s culture, policy and goals of the group move working with their valuable assignees.
A team of consultants offers consistency in service delivery, and their camaraderie benefits all as they share knowledge. This comes full circle in further supporting a strong partnership between the RMC and client on upholding confidentiality and adhering to policy benefits.
The next normal that we all anticipate will require addressing a backlog in talent mobility, which could mean the need for group moves. Have confidence in planning your next group move with Sterling Lexicon, as our consultants have tenured experience in handling them with care and confidence. We look forward to partnering with you on your next group move – and take it from your caring consultants on the front lines, the earlier we can be brought into the process the better. Contact us for a consultation today.
Diana Soloway is Sterling Lexicon’s Global Sr. Marketing Specialist and has worked in Global Mobility/Supply Chain industry for 10 years. She has held positions in global mobility operations and marketing positions for global logistics and commercial moving. As a Third-Culture Kid, she had the opportunity to grow up in Istanbul and São Paulo for 5 and a half years collectively. She graduated from American University with a Business, Language and Culture Bachelor of Science degree. Her track language selection of Spanish afforded her the opportunity to study abroad and attend Universidad Pontificia Comillas, ICADE Business School.