January 19, 2017

What Relocation Managers Need to Know about Hardship Locations and Duty of Care

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What Relocation Managers Need to Know about Hardship Locations and Duty of Care

As companies search for new opportunities and growth, they are inevitably reaching new and increasingly challenging regions, countries, and markets, placing an ever-growing pressure on international assignees’ capabilities to adapt and thrive there.

Organisations recognise the pressure of these increasing demands, as well as the need to provide adequate support and resources, so that both employer and employee are protected, and to ensure international assignments are successful. The emergence of duty of care as a core value for international mobility is testament to this.

International assignment pressures are arguably at their highest when sending assignees to hardship locations. A comprehensive, formal plan is critical for assignment success, and mobility teams need to address duty of care against the potentially competing need to control costs. Cartus’ recent Mobility Insights: Hardship Locations and the Duty of Care offers best practice tips on how to effectively plan and manage moves into hardship locations.

What is a Hardship Location?

The most common way to determine what constitutes a hardship location, is to grade each location in terms of its risk to living and working there. This should be based on concrete, comparable data, such as crime rates, physical threats to safety, infrastructure, health and medical facilities, and level of pollution, amongst others.

By assigning a score to each factor, it is possible to objectively compare living conditions in one destination with another and establish the level of hardship of a target location.

Typical Challenges for Relocation Managers

Several of the most typical challenges facing international assignees in hardship locations include housing and healthcare.

Housing. Hardship locations typically have relatively weak infrastructure and high security risks. As a result, the availability of secure housing can be one of the biggest challenges for assignees. To counter this, companies typically use either company owned housing or designated areas/compounds for assignees.

Healthcare. With typically low standards of healthcare in hardship locations, many Cartus clients provide membership to global health service companies, covering assignees for medical care in any location.

Best Practices for Managing International Assignments in Hardship Locations

A number of strategies and steps are recommended in order to ensure duty of care to both employees and their families in hardship locations.

  • Candidate Assessment: The use of comprehensive Candidate Assessment programs helps to proactively assess the risk of sending an individual on a specific assignment.
  • Cross-Cultural Training: Compulsory cross-cultural training further prepares assignees, and provides them with critical knowledge and skills required to ensure personal and professional adaptation to their new and unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Split family situations: During the assignment, depending on the family’s situation and the level of hardship, companies may want to consider having family members reside in a less risky, alternate location, possibly in the same country, with provisions for the employee to regularly return for visits.
  • Hardship Allowance: Providing a hardship allowance is still a common practice, rewarding and recognising the effort that employees and their families are making. Allowances are typically a percentage of the assignee’s monthly salary, based on the difference in living conditions between home and host location. 

International assignment locations can sometimes present challenges to an assignee and his or her family. Planning, preparation, and close coordination with suppliers is crucial to the success of the assignment. Read more about how to effectively manage moves into hardship locations, along with best practice tips, in Cartus’ recent Mobility Insights: Hardship Locations and the Duty of Care.

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Posted By

Cindy Madden

About Cindy

Cindy Madden is Director of the Cartus Consulting Solutions practice, which supports clients and prospects in the areas of Global Policy and Program Design, Group Moves, Destination Location Research, and the development of customized mobility websites. Cindy has more than 25 years’ experience in the relocation industry in a variety of roles, including account management and sales.

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