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When to Make an Exception the Rule

The increase in exceptions over the past several years is a good indication of the pressure employers are feeling to address the concerns of skilled talent. Unfortunately, over time, managers and previous transferees often share commonly granted exceptions with new transferees as if they are a staple of the program. Consequently, unexpected relocation expenses start to spring up frequently.

We get a lot of questions about managing by exception from clients and every case is different. It’s really important that program managing exceptionsadministrators look at the written benefits and exception request history on a regular basis to determine when an exception should become an official part of the program, or if the circumstances of consideration should be spelled out within the written policies. Otherwise, a relocation program can quickly become a nightmare for the administrator, with increases in overall program costs and dissatisfaction among transferees who are receiving inconsistent benefits as a result of careless exception granting.

They key to managing exceptions is to ensure that your rationale is consistent from case to case. Exceptions, including those rejected, should be tracked across divisions and reviewed by relocation managers and relocation partners at regular intervals. Trends may show certain cost centers are more generous than others for similarly qualified employees. For example, some may have a more challenging time filling position needs and so they need an extra boost. If this is happening, consider reigning in or expanding coverage – you can even add an entirely separate policy to address certain groups if need be.

For some, there can be a temptation to micromanage each move to only grant a base of benefits and negotiate along the way to ensure better cost containment. This can be problematic for two reasons:

1. Experienced candidates might not attempt to negotiate and, instead, flat out reject the offer assuming
the scaled back program is inadequate and not worth pursuing;

2. Inexperienced transferees will be constantly at your door with ongoing hardships that they did not
foresee initially.

Ultimately, if you must manage by exception, assign an individual gatekeeper to make the tough decisions without being micromanaged or persuaded by different departments. This method is most effective in a centralized environment where control is funneled to one place. In a decentralized climate, there are multiple layers of decision makers which will lead to inconsistency in rationale and exception granting.

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VP, Client Services

VP of Business Development Northeast Region


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