June 6, 2022

What Your CEO Really Wants to Know About Your Global Mobility Program

You have been asked to provide a report to your company’s CEO on the status of the organization’s global mobility program. Now what? Understanding what senior leadership values knowing is essential when prepping for this type of meeting.

The most important metrics to report cover the macro-level priorities of the business:

    • Cultivating talent
    • Operating effectively
    • Continually improving

It’s important to address program cost but managing the cost in a vacuum is rarely the CEO’s priority. Leaders are looking to manage resources, risk, and return in their businesses. Start with the most valuable resource, talent, then assess how the costs invested are delivering benefit back to the organization.

What Your CEO Really Wants to Know About Your Global Mobility Program

Cultivating Talent: Measure Employee Satisfaction

A positive employee experience is critical to relocation and assignments – and a key driver of the employee’s satisfaction is the experience of the whole family involved. While the phrase “happy employees equal productive employees” is a truism, it reflects the fundamental purpose of offering relocation assistance.

Measuring the level of employee satisfaction provides insights into how your transferred employees view your mobility program. It helps make the case for policy change when needed to manage retention risk, and it demonstrates when a program is delivering value.

Cultivating Talent: Align Relocation Activity to Enterprise Goals

Relocation activity and volume can illustrate how decisions made regarding new hire and internal mobility are delivering against the overarching goals of your organization.

    • Reviewing authorizations by move type can explain how and why total spend has increased or decreased.
    • These data can also help determine if inter- or intra-regional employee movement is needed to expand or reduce the company footprint in a particular location in support of business plans.
    • Analyzing this information by policy type can prompt discussions on whether you have moved “the right people, for the right jobs, at the right time.”

In sum, reviewing activity vs. business goals frames mobility as a key driver in delivering the organization’s talent management strategies, including reinforcement of organizational DEI initiatives and other critical objectives.

Operating Effectively: Analyze Mobility Program Costs

The total cost of your mobility program is a key item of discussion. Showing the total and average costs for relocations according to each policy segment and benefit category provides a deeper understanding of where the money has been spent.

Comparing costs year-over-year (YOY) shows the trajectory of the program, adding more depth to the conversation about external and internal influences on spend. Prepare to outline not just what has changed, but why.

As a good steward of company resources, consider how budget vs. actual expenses compare. This examination may point to program changes or give rationale to continue an efficiently operating program. Don’t miss this opportunity to show cost savings and to give credit to how well the program is being managed.

Looking at exceptions provides a mirror into the efficacy of your policies especially if most transferring employees asked for benefits beyond what is offered in your mobility program – or if new requests are emerging over time. This information can be useful for recommending changes in your policy to align with what employees need and what is equitable.

Operating Effectively: Home Sale Program Costs

For domestic U.S. relocation, a significant portion of your mobility spend is driven by the benefits related to selling employee homes. Your approach to home-sale benefits (Direct Reimbursement, Buyer Value Option or Guaranteed Buyout) will influence the total cost, and two metrics are key drivers to monitor: days on market and inventory costs.

Other statistics to show include the average home value and total direct costs. In addition, any Loss-on-Sale benefit will increase the expense of transferring homeowners. Examining YOY statistics can help determine if minor or major changes in the policy are necessary, especially when external market conditions are driving costs higher.

Operating Effectiveness: ROI of International Assignments

The cost of an international assignment can be roughly equivalent to 2 to 3 times the salary of the employee, so it’s important to define the returns of a mobility program as both financial and non-financial, particularly the demonstration of investment in talent development and retention.

Cost alone cannot provide the full picture. Document the business reasons to send an employee on either a short- or long-term assignment. Drive the best practice of setting clear objectives pre-assignment and documenting how they were met at the end. If possible, measure employee engagement scores of mobility program participants vs. business average. Where this isn’t feasible, start with employee retention post-assignment.

Continually Improving: Assess Program Performance

You can show your CEO a full picture of return on the organization’s financial investment in global mobility. Understanding the expenses, and drivers of their changes, facilitates strong financial planning. Return on the spend comes from performance as well as employee satisfaction and engagement, along with knowing where and why employees are asked to relocate.

Look at year to year changes and longer trends where possible. As you think about what they mean in your organization, work through your organizational priorities, such as:

    • How is the program contributing to developing and retaining talent?
    • How can we operate more effectively?
    • What can we do next to drive greater efficiency?

It’s vital to discuss the ”good and the bad” for a healthy program. This is an opportunity to fully understand whether your program is meeting the needs of your employees as well as your company. When your program is grounded in the strategic priorities of the company, there are true opportunities to improve and drive stronger organizational results.


Leah Johnson

Leah Johnson

Leah Johnson is Sterling Lexicon’s Director, Client Solutions, and has worked in the global mobility industry for more than 20 years. She has held management positions in business development, operations, account management, and consulting, and had the opportunity to live and work in Tokyo and Hong Kong for six years. She initiated destination services in Hong Kong for a relocation management company and directed global mobility for Goldman Sachs in the APAC region. She graduated from Colgate University, earned an MBA from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and maintains a Senior Certified Professional (SCP) certification from SHRM.

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