April 21, 2016

Better Relocation Program Design: The Client Perspective

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Better Relocation Program Design: The Client Perspective

Cartus clients share their thoughts on challenges and best practices in a variety of ways—informal discussions, surveys, and meetings with other companies in Cartus’ client base. Below is a quick summary of some of their insights on how the internal design of their departments improved the functioning of their relocation programs.  

Internal Challenges to Program Efficiency

As your relocation department seeks to maximize its efficiency, you may face issues involving the interaction and coordination with other departments that impact the success of your relocation program, policy effectiveness, assignee and employee satisfaction, and costs. Issues typically involve:

  • “Silo-ing” of responsibility for global mobility, where HR, Talent, Compensation, and Shared Services may all be involved (especially where specialized areas such as immigration are concerned);
  • Departments “going around” the global mobility group;
  • Conflicts between centralized and decentralized approaches, where local management can override centralized reporting structure; and
  • Limited resources for global mobility teams.

When global assignments are considered, issues include interaction with colleagues in departments in widespread locations, as well as sphere of control and policy design—whether global or local relocation policy prevails, and where to make adjustments.

Companies have cited problems with global consistency and difficulties with assignee tracking (leading to stealth expats), which lead to corresponding tax and liability risk. In general, failure to communicate between departments, to educate senior leadership, and in many cases the assignees themselves, has led to assignment mismatches and budget overruns, as well as potential assignment failures, either due to early returns or failure to complete the company project or goals.

Tips and Best Practices for Improving Your Relocation Program

Cartus clients have suggested solutions in a number of areas.


Obtain an Executive Sponsor for the relocation program

  • Helps the program manager understand what the company vision is, and can also provide faster notice to any upcoming changes to that vision.
  • Can aid in getting needed changes identified and made, streamlining the approval process.

Commit to company initiatives

  • Even when it seems counterproductive, it is important to remain committed to initiatives that align with the company’s core values to retain executive support for needed changes.

Education and Collaboration

Educate your executives

  • Similar to having an executive sponsor, but ensures that the key decision makers are aware of the relocation program, as not all have moved with the company and may not have that familiarity.

Collaborate internally with key stakeholders to ensure alignment of the vision

  • Do not assume all stakeholders to the relocation program know the company vision.

Policy Design

Track metrics for policy changes

  • Determine what the key metrics are for tracking policy changes and figure out how to track them—being able to showcase the impact of the change increases credibility.

Consider how policy structure can deliver flexibility as well as improving interactions with regional colleagues

  • Create country-specific policies to address local challenges.
  • Use broad policies with country-specific addendums—basic policy components with additional country-specific benefits to manage country nuances
  • Use global policy with add-on additional benefits—e.g., additional allowances, home leave trips, appliance allowances, etc.


For more information on developing a relocation policy structure, see our pieces on Unlocking Global Policy Design, and Unlocking U.S. Policy Design. And for more information on relocation department and program efficiency, email us at trustedguidance@cartus.com.

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Posted By

Patrick Lewis

About Patrick

Patrick is manager, marketing communications at Cartus. He has more than 15 years of marketing, communications, and writing experience, and a decade of global relocation experience.

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