COVID-19 Updates

Maintaining Consistency in a Sea of Ad Hoc Decisions

July 8, 2020


We recently covered how businesses are accelerating organizational approaches, leaving mobility managers the opportunity to be flexible and proactive in decision-making when it comes to their organizations’ mobile employees.

An aspect of mobility that most frequently requires decision making is policy. Putting all the numerous reasons your organization has a mobility program aside, we can generally agree that the mobility policies your organization has in place are meant to promote consistency. Even if your organization happens to offer a core/flex policy to segments of your mobile employee population, the core elements must exist in a consistent, measurable way for the flexible benefits to be just that — flexible — by contrast. Consistency, or conformity in the application of a concept (typically for the sake of logic, accuracy, or equity), is how you have been able to drive meaningful reporting and data analytics when it comes to your mobile employees’ assignment successes, program costs, return on investment (ROI), utilization of suppliers, and more.

We can also agree that the COVID-19 global pandemic has likely caused you to deviate from the consistent application of your mobility policies. This may range from granting exceptions to accommodating mobile employees’ requests for extensions or dialing back certain requirements like minimum home marketing timeframes, for example. In fact, as cited in BGRS’s white paper “U.S. Domestic Mobility Approaches in Light of the Pandemic,” where we measured our clients’ U.S. domestic policy changes in response to the pandemic, 20% of clients indicate that they are considering home sale changes on a case-by-case basis.

It is not uncommon to take a case-by-case approach in urgent times or in response to emergencies, which has been the environment caused by the global pandemic. Ad hoc responses are the most realistic and considerate way to deal with crises. It’s hard to imagine that, in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, when a mobile employee requests to end their assignment early and return to their home country, a mobility manager would feel the need to amend the policy type or create some kind of formal contingency for the organization’s home-country-return support rather than simply addressing what needs to be done for this employee at this point in time to get them home safely.

At this juncture, while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect businesses and economies worldwide, the emergency factor in our responses has downshifted; however, the U.S.’s recent decision to suspend new immigrant visas for the remainder of 2020 reminds us of the continued fluidity still characteristic of this period. This pre-vaccine environment will continue to require ad hoc solutions to mobility challenges, creating misalignment and discrepancies in the way policies and programs are handled, particularly when attempting to collect historical program data and insights. Program stakeholders must plan for areas where flexibility can be incorporated into their core policies and practices so that consistency in decision making can be driven within a reportable framework.

With significant mobility-transformation program and policy reviews on the horizon for the post-pandemic era, tracking both your ad hoc decisions thus far and the plans for flexibility in this fluid environment will drive the changes that become the core, future-proof policies of your organization. While you may have lacked a pandemic-response component of your policy before, measuring the decisions and responses that amended your mobility program’s approach this year will enable you to create policy clauses that minimize case-by-case-basis decisions in the future; enhance your organization’s compliance; and provide clear, reportable, actionable program insights.

We would also suggest that you consider how your ad hoc decisions drive toward your overarching program aspirations. For example, along with program redesign efforts, most organizations are focusing on enhancing the employee experience, adding flexibility as part of that experience focus while simultaneously simplifying the program and streamlining processes. For organizations on such a journey, in addition to aiming for consistency and equitable application, these experience-related program objectives should be aligned to the efforts as well.

BGRS is already supporting clients who are radically restructuring their approaches to mobility, supply chain management, and talent management. As you work to adjust for future flexibility — while at the same time driving toward a consistent framework for such flexing — contact BGRS’s Talent Mobility Consulting team for expert guidance that supports your mobile employee population through transformative times and drives meaningful reporting and data analytics on assignment successes, compliance, program costs, ROI, and more.