By Jess Tatham-Thompson Cultural Training Consultant, International Consultants Centre With over 25 years of experience in Global mobility and Assignment Management we like to think that we have seen it all. Yet one of the parts of our work that we love the most is that you never know what each day will bring, there are always surprises; challenges to be met and problems to solve. From our experience we know there are certain requests that can make a relocation more challenging. Here are our top four red flags, guaranteed to test even the most experienced relocation specialist:
- Man’s best friend: In our recent Global Mobility Policy Benchmarking Survey we found that only 25% of companies support assignees taking family pets on assignment. Taking a well loved family pet on assignment can make the transition for the family easier, particularly for children, for the Assignment Manager however pets can be a headache. Dogs and cats are relatively straightforward, but relocating a tank full of tropical fish and finding temporary accommodation for 2 rabbits and 3 guinea pigs has stretched our problem solving skills to their limit.
- Money, money, money: Mercer’s cost of living data for 2016 shows that Hong Kong is the most expensive destination for expats in 2016, while the fall of the Australian dollar contributed to a fall in Australian cities on the same index. Sydney is the most expensive spot; number 42 on the list, Melbourne is ranked 71, Brisbane 96, and Canberra 98. One of the greatest challenges we face is to find family interim accommodation when budgets are tight. A property in central Sydney that will house a family of 7 (plus the aforementioned rabbits and guinea pigs) for $105 a night is not an easy find. But find it we did, what did we do before the internet?
- False advertising: We recently had an assignee family move into a three year rental, a beautiful family home in a prestigious Sydney suburb close to quality private schools. The property was fully renovated with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a sparkling swimming pool in the large, leafy garden. The rent was appropriately high. Shortly after moving in the Landlord sent a note advising that the family bathroom was not to be used, it was simply for show as it had not been waterproofed, he was demanding the family just use the en suite bathroom. With two teenage daughters the family was not amused. The landlord refused to have the bathroom restored to full working order resulting in a trip to NCAT and a new home search.
- All talk: earlier this year we received an SOS call from an assignee who had recently relocated from the US with another provider. Their household goods shipment had been delivered, they had excitedly unpacked and plugged in their white goods and immediately shorted out their rental property and caused their white goods to pour smoke. Their employer, their removals company and their relocation consultant had failed to advise them of the difference in power voltage between the USA and Australia. The most important part of our job is communication, making sure that at every stage the assignee is informed and aware and happy. A lack of communication is often the cause of problems, making sure that the channels of communication are open all the time are essential to preventing issues before they even arise.
Jess Tatham-Thompson is Global Mobility Manager at International Consultants Centre. She has a double degree in Psychology and Sociology and has lived in London, Calgary, Singapore and Melbourne. She loves the daily surprises and problem solving challenges her job brings. International Consultants Centre is an global mobility outsourcing company offering policy development, benchmarking, assignment management, remuneration advice, customised transition support and intercultural training programs to assignees relocating domestically and internationally.
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