Mobility is a People Business – Do You Care?

By March 2, 2016London, Relocate, UK

The following article was written by CLR’s Founder & CEO, Jason Waite, and appeared in the 2015/2016 Winter edition of International HR Adviser.


It may not have been your cup of tea (I’m  British…), and it’s now synonymous with the very amusing one-liner “Show-me-the-money!”, but I liked Jerry Maguire and still do. Why? Because of its core message. We can change things, let’s make it better, it’s not just about business. So let’s put a little heart back into it…

For corporate giants and SMEs worldwide, it’s all business. However, the one thing that every successful company relies on, is built upon, is their people and those people are usually very difficult to find and hire. Once you’ve got them, you definitely want to make sure you hold onto them. Good people, your people, are not only the foundation on which a company is built, but also what will help it evolve, develop and grow; without them, you’re going nowhere. And let’s face it, they’re often tough to hang on to, and that’s why caring is so essential when it comes to moving them around the world.

Caring, in my opinion, is a word that is well and truly under-utilised in the world of mobility, relocation and frankly many other  industries;  people  are  seemingly scared to use it. But it’s at the very essence of what good service should be based upon, and caring makes all the difference when it comes to delivery. Your team, your employees, your “family”, whatever your corporate culture may be, it is your people that make it happen. And guess what? We’re in a people business!

In fact, we’re in the people business; people services, human resources, mobility management, etc. Call it what you will, but ultimately we’re not just moving boxes! Our business is all about people and the corporate world is very much aligned with us. Think about it. Over the last 5 years or so the dynamic has noticeably shifted quite seriously towards people in the business world, more so than ever before. We’re in an age where some of the most successful companies of today, including Uber, Facebook, AirBnB and Alibaba have little else other than their people. And it’s trending! Yes, they have technology, of course, but guess  what? That’s developed, built and managed by people, too.

Another trending development is the growth in mobility, because by all accounts it’s set to soar, not least within the technology sector of course, but generally across industry. Mobility is very much at the fore for today’s leading businesses and it is becoming a serious consideration for them when it comes to making strategic decisions. The days of just shooting from the hip and fixing the problems later are numbered. Global regulations are getting tighter and fines are getting greater. $400,000 was a disclosed fine recently imposed upon a major corporation for a failure to adhere to protocol in moving a critical business team. Never  before has it been more important that detailed planning along with consideration for the employee, and of course their family, is undertaken to ensure a successful move. As a consequence, companies are becoming more and more conscious of the impact a move has on both the business and the employee’s life, and we need to meet the demand accordingly. Times are changing!

So that old-school attitude of “just get the job done” simply doesn’t wash anymore. It never did to be honest, but somehow when  globalisation took grip, and with it mobility exploded, that awful word snuck in and took root: “Complacency”; it’s just another move, a number, a file, etc. It was that very attitude that I observed just a few years back whilst working as a home-search consultant which spurred me on to start up my own relocation company; together with much encouragement from many of the  400+ employees I personally assisted over those early years. I felt it could be done better, there was clearly scope in the marketplace for an improved offering and now 3+ years in the making I’m proving it can!

Similarly to what we’ve seen on the high streets in the UK these last  5+ years, and worldwide to be fair; I travel quite a bit for work these days. The local butchers, the greengrocer, the fishmonger, Charlotte’s café, Dean’s deli, they’re all back, and back by demand! The resurgence of the high street; local goods and local people, I feel has been driven through people wanting less of the “the computer says no”, and more of the genuine “How may I help you?” Like I said, we’re not just moving boxes. It’s not just a service order, a reference or purchase order number. We’re not making sausages here, or ‘bangers’ as we say in the UK! It’s not a production line, etc.

What an employee undertakes when relocating, often together with their family, can only be described as a seismic event. Their world as they know it alters overnight. We pick them up, turn their everyday reality inside out and put them down again, somewhere new, whilst challenging and changing everything that underpins one’s life, and I mean the fundamentals: food, water and shelter. Not to mention the cultural change, the local system to comprehend, family considerations such as schooling, absence of family and friends, etc. It’s a very long list as you are no doubt already well aware. So to say that they need support is an understatement.

Putting ourselves in their shoes, in my opinion, is essential. How  would  you feel? So going the extra mile to listen, understand, guide, help and ensure that the employee / family have the best chance of making a successful move and settling in quickly is imperative. And that’s not to mention the business case, the investment of  both  time  and  money  and  strategic importance of the move to the business!

After all, it’s long proven that happy people are productive people and ultimately that’s what a successful business needs to be successful!

All in all, I’m so pleased I watched that movie, so thanks Jerry. And I’m sure that it isn’t just me on a “caring” crusade, and no, I’m not scared to use the word. Let’s do it better!