‘Diplomats compensated for working in the worlds dream destinations’, it’s the kind of attention grabbing headline that the media love. According to The Daily Express, civil servants abroad were paid a total of £11million in DSCA allowance in 2012, in addition to £21.5million in the cost of living. The Diplomatic Service Compensation Allowance (DSCA) or ‘hardship allowance’ may appear generous, depending on your perspective. These news stories are always going to provoke comment.
This year’s Expatriate Management and Global Mobility Forum was held on July 8th at the Hilton London Canary Wharf. The heart of London’s new financial district proved to be the perfect location to listen to a wealth of expertise that didn’t veer far from the subject of money. Dr. Sue Shortland, principal lecturer in human resource management at London Metropolitan University, chaired the forum with both humor and efficiency.
Andrew Burley, global mobility manager at GKN admitted that ‘there is no magic formula’ when it comes to calculating the return on investment (ROI) in international assignments. GKN is a British multinational automotive and aerospace components company employing approximately 50,000 people with headquarters in Redditch, Worcestershire and operations in 30 countries.
Kay Hall from AIRINC is an expert in global mobility and spoke from her personal experience with a career spanning 17 international moves. AIRINC is an HR and data consultancy that helps organisations facilitate global mobility. Kay reiterated Andrew’s comment that there is a lack of magic in calculating ROI and each business has its unique issues. When asking the delegates in the hall to raise their hands and reveal which expatriate compensation packages suited their organisation, the majority put their hands up for the ‘Home-Based Equaliser Approach’.
My interest in the subject of global mobility is from a brand management perspective. I believe that all actions of the organisation should fulfill the brand strategy. The vision and values of a brand provide a moral direction for every action. Some of the world’s largest brands have received a public backlash over their tax arrangements in relation to the nations in which they operate. The question for me is, how does the expatriate compensation package compliment what the brand stands for?
Rebecca Riley, a senior manager global mobility & corporate compensation at Hilton Worldwide, understands the issues of an international brand and a globally mobile population. The hospitality giant is present in 92 countries and territories. Rebecca underlined the importance of the Hilton brand philosophy and knowing how to interpret it. The hotel group’s values actually spell out Hilton:
- Hospitality – we’re passionate about delivering exceptional guest experiences.
- Integrity – we do the right thing, all the time.
- Leadership – we’re leaders in our industry and in our communities.
- Teamwork – we’re team players in everything we do.
- Ownership – we’re the owners of our actions and decisions.
- Now – we operate with a sense of urgency and discipline
With such strong values stretching back to 1919, it is essential that these qualities are part of the Hilton employee experience. Like the diplomats mentioned earlier, Hilton employees receive a ‘hardship allowance’ for working in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. As Rebecca said ‘Staring at white sand all day’ can drive you mad. Spouses may receive a flight allowance for socialising and couturier and golf club membership allowances will also help to deal with the monotony of working in paradise.
Richard Pennington, head of international assignment services EMEA, at General Motors, made it clear that careful preparation is critical before deploying an assignee to a challenging environment. He warned against hasty preconceptions concerning regions suffering from political unrest and conflict. It is important to interview the family and spouse as they are key decision makers and discuss careful contingency for medical requirements and evacuation procedures should the event arise. Richard succinctly compared the decision of working abroad to the well-known piece of traditional wisdom: ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure’.
Oonagh O’Connell, senior global mobility manager for Kingfisher, underlined the need for careful preparation before arranging international assignments and shared her key finding’s:
- Be prepared
- Face to face communication
- Don’t underestimate the way it has always been done
- Identify key decision makers
- Work closely with vendors
- Monitor the impact of the change and cost of administration
David Wells, director of global mobility at Diageo, reminded us that the success of any mobility programme depended on a good talent pool.
Ellyn Karetnick, head of international mobility at Mercer, recommended a strong integrated team and consideration on how to implement policy early on and communicate it clearly.
Grant Weinberg, director, Europe, Asia & Middle-East talent acquisition at Gilead Sciences, warned that when it comes to quality, cost and time – you can’t have it all.
An international posting is typically regarded as an advancement opportunity for both assignee and organisation. The assignee should feel valued and entrusted to represent their brand at the highest level. Expatriate employees are brand ambassadors and will often be regarded as an indication of the highest standards and best exemplar of the brand. In order to feel fully engaged and succeed, the employee will need to feel secure in their private life as well as professional life. As Grant Weinberg said: ‘Assignees have expectations too!’
Paul Hitchens was the chosen blogger for the Expatriate Management and Global Mobility Forum 2014.
If you missed this year’s event. Don’t worry secure your early bird ticket today for the Expatriate Management and Global mobility 2015 and save 50%! Use code ‘EXPAT50’ when booking.
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