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Is it Time to Outsource Your Relocation Program

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The decision to outsource relocation services comes up for every company, once they begin to consider the time and energy they are spending doing a fire drill each time a move is authorized.   For small to mid-size relocation programs, a need might arise in order to free up limited internal resources. For larger companies with robust programs, the company may need access to a wider range of suppliers. There is a wide spectrum of considerations in deciding to outsource relocation services.  Outsourcing provides organizations with access to expertise, tools and resources they might not otherwise have. Outsourcing enables these companies to reduce costs and maximize their focus on other day to day business operations.

Initially, outsourcing a relocation program focused around the need to properly handle global assignments and compliant home sale programs, such as the Guaranteed Buy-Out (GBO), Amended Value Sale (AVS) and the Buyer Value Option (BVO).  In order to attract and retain company talent, relocation programs grew and became more sophisticated.  Additionally, employer’s HR departments found themselves strained and too short staffed to manage all the added soft services.   So, in the selection of a Relocation Management Company (RMC), it became more imperative to find a good cultural fit; a service partner that was more than just a processor.  They needed a company that would now address the personal challenges of the transferee and their family, in a manner consistent with their internal corporate culture.

 

The determination to keep a relocation program in-house verses outsourcing it, rests on a number of factors:

 

Scope of the Benefits

Right off the bat, if you are relocating 3-5 people, utilizing a lump sum program, it may be a little premature to hand the program off.  The cost that the RMC must recoup in setting up and administering a new program would be too great to absorb and cost prohibitive for the company to cover in fees.  A cost analysis needs to be conducted to justify RMC fees or any sub-vendor mark-ups.  The time to identify and vet service resources should also be considered in this process.

 

The Sophistication of Your Program

With the new 2018 Tax laws in place, the costs of mobility are increasing for corporations, due to many of the relocation related expenses no longer being excludable from taxation.  While there may be some appeal to moving away from a managed benefit program, opting for a lump sum solution, you must first take a close look at the objectives of your program and the competitive nature of the work environment for your employee talent.

When the lump sum program was conceived, it was traditionally provided to recent college grads or internal self-requested moves.  Today, if you are considering replacing a fully managed program with an arbitrary sum of money, you are likely adding back in inefficiency, productivity distraction, confusion, inequity and in many instances unnecessary stress for your transferee.  If you are in a competitive environment for talent, need your transferee immediately productive and undistracted, or, need to make the most bang for a buck, an outsourced program maybe for you.

 

The Strength of Your Current Staff and Service Partnerships to Meet Your Needs

For some companies, in managing their program in-house, there are typically, one or two experienced HR administrators with detailed knowledge of each move, the internal procedures, and the preferred company vendors.  As long as they are there and managing the program, all moves well.  But, what happens when they move on?  Typically, these programs are shifted every three to four years.  And, when they do, all the efficiency that was built and the understanding behind vendor selection, costs and exceptions are lost and need to be relearned.  It’s always in the company’s best interest to make sure that the skills and knowledge of the Mobility Administrator and/or staff is not “lost.”

 

Faith in Your Service Provider

As Steven Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

If you are considering outsourcing your relocation services, one of the first priorities is to establish a communications plan, with pre-defined expectations. The lines of communications should be defined for key internal stakeholders including senior management, finance, Payroll, IT and legal departments should be a priority. Likewise, communications to employees via policies and other communications should also be arranged.

 

Ultimately, if companies come to the conclusion that from a financial and servicing stand point, that outsourcing relocation is warranted, the process of defining internal and outsourced roles may not be as daunting as it seems. If structured properly, with open lines of communications and accessible documentation, an outsourced program can be more effective, cost contained and responsive to your employee needs, without leaving you with that “loss of control” perceptions that might be keeping you from making the move.

Have you recently outsourced your relocation services program, or are you considering doing so?  Let us know your thought process.

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MIKE CANNING
VP, Client Services

RICK CALANNI
VP of Business Development Northeast Region

 

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