Relocation is ‘rapidly evolving’

A Q&A with SIRVA’s George Parr

By Bill Hatton

What is the state of the European market in relocation and what is coming down the pike? What changes are coming and what is driving those changes?

To learn more about the European relocation market, HRO Today Global spoke with George Parr, SVP and chief marketing officer at SIRVA Worldwide Relocation & Moving. Parr shared his thoughts and our exchange follows:

What is the current state of the relocation/mobility market?

We’ve invested a lot to better understand the European market and its customers. Historically, it has been a market where overwhelmingly, mobility was managed internally. With the exception of household goods, the companies that are headquartered there, whether they are doing global relocations or intra-European relocations, would manage that relocation process completely on their own. They had traditionally managed all aspects of the assignment in house, from overseeing the visa and immigration to overseeing the destination-service provider.

Now the European market is rapidly evolving: what we’re seeing is a greater utilisation of relocation management companies. And it’s driven by the fact that the size of mobility programmes is getting to the point where it is no longer efficient for the company to manage on their own. Businesses are finding that it is not practical to be able to manage relocations in a high quality manner and within a cost structure that makes sense.

What trends do you see in the next year?

When you look globally, you see that more and more companies are looking outside their domestic location for growth opportunities. And when companies do that, then obviously, getting the right people in place to take advantage of opportunities or address the challenges that come with expanding outside of their home country is the key to being successful.

What with taxes and immigration regulations also have such variance across countries. Future success lies in being able to navigate that landscape to keep cost structures manageable, stay in compliance, and not do anything to put the company at risk. It is increasingly important to make sure that people who have been relocated are also focused on the job they are there to do.

What is triggering the change?

In the proprietary research that we’ve done, we’ve seen the impetus behind mobility is around immediate business needs. It’s more about business development than talent management. But it’s more driven than the business development side as companies have immediate needs related to sustaining growth or accelerating growth. Or, they have particular project that needs completing and they just don’t have the right skills in that location to satisfy it within the timeframe that they are looking to do.

Companies are more near-term focused, and that’s what we hear when we talk to mobility leaders in Europe. As a matter of fact, we’ve also seen within Europe, more companies when it comes to relocating within the region, are using short-term assignments, using super-commuter types of arrangements, and leveraging the business travel more than traditional long-term assignments.

What steps can a practitioner take?

For a relocation ti be most successful, it comes down to two themes -quality and efficiency. The quality of the experience of the person who is in transition from their home country and the host country is important. It is equally critical to make that relocation experience for the relocating employee as good an experience as it can be, both for them and for their families, so they can be successful and focused on the job they’re relocating to do.

From the business standpoint, it’s also making sure that the investment that the company is making is staying in line with their needs. That they are delivering a high quality experience but they are also doing that in cost-efficient way. I think that’s a challenge for companies. How do I do it so the relocating employee’s and their family’s needs are satisfied? The right relocation partner that is invested in your success can help.

Tags: Global Autumn 2015

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