Partner career assistance can mean the difference between a successful and a failed assignment

husband and wife at workFamily considerations, including the spouse/partner’s career, have traditionally been the number one reason for reluctance to relocate. According to Worldwide ERC®, real estate concerns eclipsed family and career considerations during the Great Recession (imagine having to sell an “upside down” house and give up a spouse/partner’s job during a recession), but as the real estate market recovers, personal issues are again rising to the forefront.

Dual-career families have become the norm. Ozzie and Harriet are gone: according to the U.S. Census bureau, men are the sole breadwinners in only one out of four married couples. So even with a great offer on the table, most families are reluctant to embark on a relocation unless the spouse can either continue his or her job in the new location or find a new one. International assignments bring special challenges as many countries limit or outlaw spouse employment.

Today, successful talent management includes not only identifying the best employee for the role but also addressing family considerations that might prevent the chosen candidate from accepting the job—or result in its failure later on. When relocations and global assignments fail, it is almost always due to spouse/family dissatisfaction. Then the company loses not only a substantial investment but more importantly for its future, a valued employee.

Continuing with the current employer

If the spouse is happy with the current role, it is certainly worth investigating whether a transfer to an office in the new city or a transition to virtual employee status is possible. Companies today want to retain talent and might be more flexible about employment terms and location than you think. Technology has made it much easier to do a job from thousands of miles away, and often a well-developed proposal keeps the position secure. For example, the spouse can offer to work virtually most of the time but travel to the office location when needed. (Of course, if the employee is relocating abroad, extreme caution is advised, as even virtual work can be prohibited. The family could be deported and the employer liable for hefty fines. The visa and immigration specialist who assists with the employee’s move will advise what is, and isn’t, permissible.)

If continuing isn’t an option

Perhaps the spouse’s company doesn’t have an office in the new location, or maybe it’s a role that simply can’t move. This could be an opportunity to investigate other appropriate opportunities within the company with more flexible terms. It can also be a chance to make a clean break and pursue a new opportunity in the new location.

Before committing to a job, a potential transferee and spouse/partner should carefully go over the relocation package and discuss what is being offered. If there is no allowance for helping a trailing partner with a job search, ask your company to add it to the package. They might be unwilling, but they might also realize that it’s what is needed to cinch the deal and get you to move.

And don’t assume companies only offer partner support to married couples. A recent survey found that 24 percent of responding companies provide assistance to same-sex partners and 30 percent to unmarried partners.

The shape of assistance

Assistance ranges from informal and perfunctory to generous. About half of companies today use professional career placement services to assist the spouse or partner in finding a new job. Many cap this benefit, but the amount might be negotiable as part of overall relocation package negotiations.

TRC’s support programs include a dedicated Career Consultant and make good use of technology. Our experts work with job seekers to:

  • Explore next career steps, including alternative career options
  • Assess the changing marketplace
  • Create a plan that defines an ideal opportunity, location and salary
  • Research hiring employers and recruiters and their open positions
  • Uncover hard-to-find opportunities
  • Develop marketing strategies and tools
  • Establish or enhance online presence
  • Successfully navigate employer hiring technologies
  • Apply or post a resume online for maximum effect
  • Use our research tools to stay up-to-date
  • Interview and negotiate to land the best opportunity

For spouses/partners who are part international assignments where paid work is not an option, we look for other enriching opportunities that can benefit the spouse/partner’s career when he or she returns home. Not surprisingly, TRC has learned that sensitive management of personal considerations, especially dual-career situations, can not only determine whether or not a relocation is accepted but also its ultimate success.

Ask the Global Relocation Expert: Establishing and Updating an FX Rate

Jannette Matula, Director Global Relocation ServicesTRC’s Global Relocation Specialist regularly tackles your toughest relocation challenges.

Dear Jannette,

We are trying to determine an effective currency exchange (FX) rate for our upcoming expat assignment. Specifically, we were wondering what FX rate we should use when setting and updating COLA and other assignment allowances? Should we use the rate from the day the assignment starts? Or rather a 3 month/6 month/12 month average?

Dear Global Mobility Manager,

I can understand your company’s and your assignee’s nervousness around exchange rates lately, especially given the recent burst of global currency volatility. Based on what I have seen, the most common practice is for companies to set somewhat frequent update periods (quarterly is best but semi-annually is ok too) and use the most up-to-date rate available on that day.

I have asked one of my industry colleagues who is a subject matter expert in this area to provide a more meaningful explanation of why it is best to use the most current rate possible when determining the FX exchange rates for international assignments. Jordan Blue is a Senior Associate at Mercer and has this to say:

For FX rates we typically recommend that you use the most current rate possible. At first thought, it would make a lot of sense to use an average, right? But when we consider which approach would get closest to truly equalizing the salary the average doesn’t work out so well. Essentially, using an average means you include a lot of data points that simply aren’t relevant to our purpose.

If you think about it, our purpose is to set the COLA for the next quarter or 6 months based on what we believe the FX rate will be. In other words we want to try and predict the FX rate moving forward. If I want to know what the FX rate will be tomorrow my best reference point is today’s FX rate. Using an average would likely put me way off (consider the graph below). The average FX over the past year would be somewhere around 1.25 but the FX rate tomorrow is likely to be somewhere around 1.35 which is a big shift. Even if we used a 3 month average we would still be around 1.3 which is again, pretty far from where we want to be. So while using an average seems like a great idea, it actually means the assignee won’t be equalized due to the difference in the FX rate we use to calculate the COLA and the FX rate they actually experience when they transfer money.


Jannette Matula is TRC’s Director, Global Relocation Services

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Outsourcing Employee Relocation Saves Valuable Time and Money

Outsourcing Employee Relocation Saves Valuable Time and Money
In today’s lean business environment, most companies no longer have the luxury of a dedicated relocation department, staffed with experienced professionals who can devote their full attention to the process.

More likely, if the function is managed in-house, it’s just one of many responsibilities juggled by busy HR professionals. Complicating matters further, relocation has gotten more specialized and complex over the years.

For domestic relocation, in-house professionals must keep abreast of current best practices and tax/legal regulations, control costs, source and manage suppliers and sometimes even manage inventory. Global moves are even more challenging. Companies must identify, qualify and manage global partners, worry about immigration and tax matters and source and coordinate a whole array of support services.


TRC Global Solutions Announces Management Promotions

Positioning the company for continued growth

MILWAUKEE, Wis. February 11, 2014 – TRC Global Solutions (TRC), a leading talent mobility company, is pleased to announce several management changes and promotions:

Sean Lickver, CRP, GMS, has been promoted to Executive Vice President and will assume responsibility for TRC’s day-to-day operations. He works with the Chairman in setting the strategic direction for the company, and oversees the senior leadership team to ensure that TRC’s resources are optimally deployed to support the company’s mission and objectives. Lickver also oversees the company’s performance against key metrics; evaluates the performance results to ensure departmental and organizational goals are met; and manages the company’s quality control initiatives. Lickver has more than 15 years of operations and management experience in the relocation industry. Before joining TRC in 2011, he held management roles at AIReS and Cendant Mobility.

Sarah Larson, CRP, GMS, has been promoted to Vice President of Operations.   (more…)

Ask the Global Relocation Expert: Protecting Against Currency Fluctuations

Jannette Matula, Director Global Relocation ServicesTRC’s Global Relocation Specialist regularly tackles your toughest relocation challenges.

Dear Jannette,

We have a Canadian employee we are moving to the US permanently. Our policy provides for Canadian home sale assistance, including equity advance. However, the policy does not address protection against drastic currency fluctuations when it comes time for the employee to convert his equity in CAD to USD. You have probably noticed the drastic exchange rate fluctuations over the past several weeks between CAD and USD. The exchange rate was .88887 when the employee listed on October 6. Then it was .87341 on December 9, when the home buyout was presented. The employee received their equity today and the exchange rate is .79655. That’s a 10% devaluation over the course of 3 months! Our employee is asking us to provide currency protection due to this drastic devaluation of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar. What is our obligation? What do other companies do when this comes up?

Dear Global Mobility Manager,

Thankfully, these kinds of drastic currency fluctuations between Canada and the US have historically been rare. Nonetheless, here we are.

Since you do not have a relocation policy provision currently which addresses this issue, the best solution is to find a way to validate the employee’s concern and come up with a compromise that will satisfy the employee, maintain his trust, and also maintain consistency and compliance with company practices, all within the hiring manager’s budget. No small task!


Relocating Millennials: Where they live, are employed and make more money

trcMillennials – 73 million strong between the ages of 18 and 34 – comprise the largest U.S. population group in the last three decades. The U.S. Census Bureau took note. A new edition of their interactive mapping tool, Census Explorer, titled “Young Adults Then and Now,” is chock-full of information about the best places for millennials to relocate if they need a job, want a bigger paycheck, or would like to be surrounded by other young people. (more…)

QRM: Clarity in housing finance

Clarity in housing financeIt took nearly three years, but the Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) rule has been finalized by the Federal Deposit Corporation, which should translate into a win-win for homeowners who are relocating.

The new rule includes a broad definition of QRM and aligns with the Qualified Mortgage (QM) standard implemented earlier in 2014. The biggest sticking point in the passage of the QRM was the high down-payment requirements that previously proposed QRM rules imposed. (more…)

Employee Relocation: Talent mobility takes flight

Employee Relocation: Talent mobility takes flightOver the past decade corporate relocation policies have become increasingly sophisticated, balancing the needs of the company with those of the relocating employee. As the global economy struggled, companies formulated relocation policies that empowered them to realize their talent management objectives while managing costs and minimizing the stress and inconvenience for relocating employees.

Today we look at the recently released 2014 Worldwide ERC® (Employee Relocation Council) survey, which reported that U.S. companies experienced a 10 percent increase in domestic employee transfer volume in 2013 over 2012, and employee reluctance to relocate dropped a significant 16 percent from the previous year’s survey. (more…)

Employee perks beyond the Thanksgiving turkey

Employee perks beyond the Thanksgiving turkeyAs a global relocation company, TRC Global Solutions has discovered some of the perks our clients offer their employees. Today, we share some of the best we’ve come across.

Full-service relocation: While many companies have been attracted to the simple administration of lump-sum payments, these programs do tend to offload a lot of responsibility onto the relocating employee, which can increase distraction and slow the relocation. Recognizing this, many companies continue to offer more comprehensive Buyer Value Option or Guaranteed Buyout services. These more complete home-selling programs can be augmented with services that meet the employee’s unique needs, such as pet transportation, and make the moving experience less stressful. (more…)