March 9, 2017

One Size Does Not Fit All for Relocation Programs

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One Size Does Not Fit All for Relocation Programs

Posted by Marilynn Giglio-Knapp, Vice President, Client Services

We know that there’s not a “one size fits all” solution to meet your relocation needs. There are many key differences to factor in, including program approaches, industries, move volumes, and company culture, just to name a few. That’s why we customize our service delivery to best meet not only our clients’ move volumes, but also their unique requirements.

One-Size-interior-030917Sizing Up Your Relocation Program  

To take a look at how different sized relocation programs look at various elements of relocation, we developed reports that take a snapshot of the responses to our Relocation’s Biggest Challenges survey for various volume sectors. We then compared them to overall respondents in areas including talent management, cost control, compliance, changes in move types, and more. While there are similarities across sectors, there are also some key differences, for instance:

  • Exceptions. The top cost control concern for companies moving up to 100 moves and 101-500 moves was exception requests from employees (83% and 57% respectively), while only 38% of companies moving more than 500 employees annually named this as a concern. This may be because companies with higher relocation volume are more likely to have formalized policies in place and a more stringent exception process with approval levels that reach higher levels in the organization.

    High exception requests are an indication that the policy may not be meeting the needs of the transferring population or management. We work with our clients to review the components of the policy types and tiers that are right for their program and culture, and focus on several reasons for increasing costs, exception requests from employees and managers making decisions outside of policy.


  • Newer Move Types–Expat lite. More than half of companies moving 101-500 employees (52%), and more than 500 employees (54%), said that they are using an Expat lite policy, a policy type that offers reduced benefits. Only 36% of companies moving less than 100 employees said they use this move type, mostly because this sector typically moves higher level, key employees that are critical to company objectives, and they do not want to cut back on benefits.

    While the main intent of the “expat lite” policy type for organizations is cost savings, it is important to understand, regardless of move volume, the impact of scaled-back benefits on the ability of the employee to succeed on an international assignment, especially for assignees with families. Inability of the family to adjust is often at the top of list of reasons why international assignments fail, so it is important to give consideration to the benefits being scaled back (e.g., dependent education and spouse/partner assistance) and what the timing impact will have on the family.


  • Compliance. Not surprisingly, compliance challenges (tax, visa, immigration) are increasing across all sectors. Tax compliance was the biggest compliance challenge named by companies moving up to 100 moves (65%) and 101-500 moves (61%), while visa complexity and visa wait times (both at 73%) were named as the top compliance challenges for companies moving more than 500 employees. Managing visa complexities for a larger sized program is always difficult.  An increased focus on compliance, with an accompanying growth in bureaucracy, particularly when moving to emerging markets, can challenge large programs.

    With temporary assignment types, such as extended business travel, being used more frequently by companies of all move volumes, tax compliance continues to be an issue. The reality is that global mobility managers often do not have insight on extended business travelers (although this trend is starting to change), and an increased focus on tracking employees on an international assignment is a trend that we expect to continue.

Resources for Relocation Managers 

If you would like to learn more about the challenges facing companies with similar move volumes, request a copy of our Relocation’s Biggest Challenges report for your program size by clicking on one of the reports by size below.

After you read the report, if you would like to discuss policy best practices specific to your company, please contact your Cartus representative or email us at Be sure to also visit our newly redesigned Resource Hub, your one-stop shop for the latest information on relocation trends and best practices.

We’ve been supporting clients of all sizes for over 60 years, bringing our experience, expertise, and resources to achieve their goals. We would be happy to help you with the unique needs of your program.

Picture of Marilynn  Giglio-Knapp

Posted By

Marilynn Giglio-Knapp

About Marilynn

Marilynn has been with Cartus for 20 years and has held several key positions in Operations and Account Management. Her experience includes implementation and management of both U.S. and global engagements for clients of all sizes.

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