When I was younger I distinctly recall my father giving me two pieces of advice; “if you don’t ask you don’t get” and “never disclose your salary to anyone, especially to work colleagues”.
In my role at Deloitte I often hear from Mobility professionals how assignment allowances are often a negotiation, with assignees asking for more than the policy allows or complaining when they hear a colleague got a better relocation package than them. This led me to think about how, in part, assignees usually follow the first of my father’s advice to the extreme and the latter not at all!
If you don’t ask you don’t get
Taking the first statement, how often have you heard employees requesting additions to their mobility packages? These exceptions are rarely tracked and these additional costs soon add up!
Exceptions open up negotiations; negotiations that take time and often have numerous people involved. They also lead to unfairness where you have people travelling for work on different packages. In an ideal world, exceptions would not be necessary this simply isn’t possible for Mobility. Sometimes exceptions are needed for legal reasons, or an exception is perhaps due to the mobility policy missing a fundamental element.
Never discuss your salary
However, here comes the even trickier part - assignees talk and it seems this is when the second piece of advice my father gave me gets completely forgotten! Although assignees may not disclose their actual salaries it’s natural for them to discuss their assignment benefits; were they taxed equalised? did the company transport their car over? what’s their apartment like...perhaps they got a bigger housing allowance than a colleague who is the same grade?
All these conversations can cause havoc with some assignees feeling hard done by where perhaps they didn’t negotiate quite so well on their package. One thing is for sure, you can’t stop assignees from speaking to each other, so how can you mediate this issue and ensure fairness in your mobility policies?
How to manage global workforce exceptions
- Remember not all exceptions are bad, but mobility advisors must always get to the real reason for why a certain benefit is being requested. Advisors should actively listen, this means giving the assignee time to speak. It may be that there is something else in the mobility toolbox you can offer the assignee that does not create an exception
- Build empathy. With the skill of active listening turned up to the max, assignees will feel understood and listened to. This empathy between mobility and the assignee is paramount through what can be an upheaving process. This helps them understand your viewpoint if you have to say “I’m sorry, but we cannot process your exception request because it’s against the company policy” because they will know you empathise with them & would allow it if you could
- Have a process that includes a business case. A structure in place will help ensure that only reasonable and honest requests are asked. Consider also who should sign off these requests, perhaps their future boss in the host location should approve
- Track. I can’t say this word enough. You should track exceptions right from the initial request. As soon as an exception is requested, the details and reasons behind this should be recorded, then updated once a decision has been made (whether it was allowed or not). Also track the actual costs of the exception. All this analytical data will prove powerful and will help with strategic decisions
- Review your data! Are there numerous incidents of the same exceptions being requested? Perhaps your mobility policies need to be updated, should a level of flexibility be introduced that will improve employee experience, or could improvements be made to your communication materials?
What I’ve learnt in all this is that my father’s advice is not always followed (just don’t tell him this!!). But more importantly I believe by following these steps you can start to see:
- A reduction of negotiations around exception requests;
- Improved empathy with your assignees;
- Policies that reflect the needs of your workforce
- The necessary data to back up any policy change recommendations.
And last but certainly not least, happy father’s day dad!
Do you have any experiences where advice your parents have given you has reflected in your day to day work? Or perhaps you have some ideas on how to manage exceptions to global mobility policies – we would love to hear from you!