There are many elements that go into creating a successful mobility program – you need to gather a team of mobility professionals, partner with top-notch vendors, get business unit support - but at the heart of any mobility program are the mobility policies. These policies dictate how your company approaches mobility, including who you relocate and why, and will ultimately determine the program’s success. No two companies will have the same set of policies, nor should they. Here are the key elements to creating a mobility policy that will work for you.

Understand the company business and talent strategies

Before even thinking about creating a mobility policy it is imperative that you take a moment to understand and articulate your company’s business and talent strategy. Only when you have a firm understanding of these strategies you can begin to articulate your mobility policies, being sure to always align your policies with these goals.  You need to be able to easily make statements regarding your business and talent strategy such as: 

  • “We want to develop our top talent from within.”
  • “We are entering two new markets this year and in order to do that successfully we need to use existing talent to go to those places to build local teams.”
  • “We want the best talent that’s available and will hire people anywhere in the world and move them where they need to be.”

Establish mobility guiding principles

Once you have a clear understanding on why you are moving talent, you will want to establish the guiding principles on which your mobility program and policy will operate. Is the objective to:

  • Manage costs?
  • Deliver a great employee experience?
  • Provide actionable management information?
  • Track return on investment?
  • Ensure compliance?

Establishing these points will help determine the specific components and benefits of your policy.

Align with company culture

A big part of the reason your coworkers are with your company is because of the culture. This culture should serve as a sanity check when reviewing/establishing your mobility policies. For example, at a “title-less” organization where all employees are treated equally, offering certain employees a very plush relocation package and others a barebones one would not align with your culture, breed resentment, and ultimately leave you with unsatisfied employees and a failed mobility program.

Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach

By now this point should be fairly obvious, but it is worth restating. A one-size-fits-all policy rarely works for mobility programs. Different demographics of employees will naturally have different needs, and the purpose and level of the employee being moved will dictate the level of benefits being offered. For example a single, new grad employee moving from Boston to San Francisco will require a significantly lower lump sum payment than a senior manager with a partner and two kids. Offering one employee too much would be a waste of company dollars, offering one too little could jeopardize the relocation. It is important when segmenting your employees into different policies that you remember our first principle of aligning them to the business and talent strategy.

Utilize focus groups to refine your policies

Employee focus groups are useful for established programs that are looking to transform their mobility program. They are a great way to understand how your old policies have fared and how your proposed policies might stack up against your new objectives. It’s best to build your focus group from people who have actually moved using your policies to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Colleagues who may have moved with other companies can also add value and insights to your program so don’t be afraid to ask them for input!

For new programs many companies have found it’s useful to test the policy with a focus group of key stakeholders. This helps ensure that you are reinforcing the right messages, are aligned with strategic goals and can deliver within cost and cultural objectives.

In summary…

We are big believers in being strategic about your mobility strategy and would caution companies against throwing mud on the wall to see what sticks. Mobility as a function is always more successful when it’s aligned with the company’s talent strategy and when companies have the appropriate tools and resources in place to make relocations as successful as possible. It’s important to keep in mind that employees need support and tools before, during and after their relocation.

MOVE Guides works with companies of all sizes to develop new mobility programs as well as transform their existing policies with our unique Talent Mobility Cloud.


Tori Reichman

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Tori Reichman

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