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Assignee experience and assignee-centric technology – the natural next steps for global mobility

ECA International

As organisations continue to strive to recruit and retain the best talent, one of the ways to stand out from the crowd over the past few years has been to offer outstanding employee experience. It follows naturally from the drive towards smoothing out user experiences across wider everyday life, where we as consumers vote with our feet (and with the tap of our fingers). Whether it’s choosing a streaming service or which app to use for ordering takeaway meals, if the process is made cumbersome by poor design, we are likely to move quickly onto another one and spread the word of our experience. It is no surprise then that the importance of ensuring great design has also started to filter into the world of global mobility through a closer focus on assignee experience. One of the most straightforward routes to achieve this is by implementing technology solutions that are built around assignees’ requirements. 

Companies sending their employees on international assignments spend a lot of money to make those moves happen – indeed, on average, it is three to five times more expensive to have someone on an assignment than it would have been if that person had stayed in the home country. Additionally, assignee populations typically include key roles, senior profiles and a set of skills that are deemed essential to an organisation. Therefore, opting for policies and solutions that are designed with the needs of this vital population in mind makes it easier to ensure they are successfully involved within it and supported throughout the process. 

One of the most common areas our clients ask for advice on these days is assignee portals. They certainly seem to be gaining traction in the mobility industry – and indeed we are currently working on a portal solution for our client implementation projects – but as with many new and exciting things, there seems to be more buzz but fewer actual implementations as yet. It is all very well talking about enhancing your assignee experience through the multitude of steps going on an assignment involves, but if you’re faced with a budget freeze or operate in an organisation where the global mobility team using anything more advanced than spreadsheets is considered frivolous by the business, then clearly other considerations will take priority. At ECA, we know from first-hand experience that assignee-centric technology can certainly give your mobility programme an edge, as long as it is introduced at the right time and in the correct form for your organisation. 

Even if the time is not yet ripe for your organisation to embark on the technology journey, it doesn’t mean you can’t still focus on the assignee experience. As companies continue to move towards putting their assignees at the front and centre of the programme design, asking your assignees to give you more detailed feedback can really help with assessing how you can ensure their needs are being met and how certain policy items need tweaking. We have worked closely with some of our clients to create comprehensive assignee satisfaction surveys to get a more detailed understanding of how well your mobility programme is working and where any potential issues may arise. Although these surveys could be conveniently incorporated within a portal solution, they work equally well as standalone projects. 

Considering how expensive failed assignments are, it makes perfect sense that mobility teams are concentrating their efforts on making the assignment process as smooth and exciting as possible for their assignees. This can help alleviate some of the frustrations that assignees might face, such as having to fill out the same personal information over and over again for different purposes, or knowing where to find details about their host location – be it work-related or just to get acquainted with the new culture and customs – without the need for them to contact someone in the mobility team. It could also be something as simple as the ability to track the stage of your assignment process, and seeing which steps are still ahead. Empowering your assignees by giving them the tools to be an active participant in the process when it is convenient for them allows you to demonstrate how much you want their assignment to be a success, long before they have stepped on the plane. 

Using assignee-centric technology doesn’t just make the process nicer for the assignees: it can also help ensure you continue to meet the ever-tightening compliance requirements. Although GDPR regulations have been in effect for over two years already, compliance is still often quoted as the key reason companies choose to implement assignment management systems. Being compliant with data protection legislation is a high priority on everyone’s agenda, and the traditional way many companies still handle assignee communication – sharing sensitive information in email attachments – is no longer fit for purpose. Having a portal in place also means that your assignees can approve contract details, view compensation details and upload personal details securely. Part of what “assignee-centric” technology means for us at ECA is to ensure that all sensitive data is transferred in a secure yet convenient way that is easily accessible for all stakeholders, typically uploaded into and downloadable from the secure environment of an assignee portal. 

Data security concerns aside, focusing on the assignee experience through utilising assignee-centric technology can also make it significantly easier for you to communicate with your assignees. In fact, one of the biggest impacts Covid-19 has had on mobility teams has been the increasing importance of having good communication channels with assignees. A primary concern for many companies has been to support the mental wellbeing of assignees through this time, and there has been a need for increased engagement with assignees to discuss their wellbeing, as well as any changes to assignments. To this end, solutions for communicating and supporting assignees has been the most common additional technology implemented as a result of the pandemic.

Assignee portals can also incorporate handy features like quick, on-the-spot temperature checks after some of the assignment process milestones have been met, such as asking “How was your relocation experience?”, to give you invaluable, live data and flag up potential issues before they escalate too far. Having access to data like this could be invaluable in making sure that you are offering the best assignee experience possible – because inevitably, getting there will mean improving upon the times when things didn’t go quite right. Moreover, it could also save you money if you fix a recurring problem sooner rather than later. 

At a time when we all have high expectations about the technology we choose to use in our daily lives, providing a similarly enhanced assignee experience is a great way to raise the profile of any mobility programme. Reviewing your policy with the assignee experience in mind will future-proof your mobility programme to weather the next storms, as well as helping you to retain and support your key employees. Although it is still early days for assignee portals, we are very excited to be driving the evolution of assignee-centric global mobility together with our clients. Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss the best solution for your organisation. 

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