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This article is taken from chapter 3 of the K2 Bespoke guide to Successful business-critical (VIP) assignments.

Before developing a programme to support executive, VIP or business- critical assignments, it is important to understand the challenges involved. But where do you begin? To help you on your way, we explore five of the top considerations for such assignments.

1. The time-poor nature of the VIP

Typically, executives are constantly in high demand, are frequent business travellers and have very tight schedules. All of this makes them extremely time-poor. Due to their critical role within your organisation, it is crucial that any relocation does not distract them from focusing on their work. Managing this can create additional pressures for the global mobility function — support is often required at unusual hours, with rapid response times expected and specialist queries requiring a swift resolution. Poor communication and responsiveness will hinder progress, risk increasing costs and potentially damage your organisation’s reputation. It is key that the requirement for exceptional levels of support does not create a barrier to success. Is this something that you can resource internally or would you benefit from external expert support?

2. Heightened state of awareness

Executive and VIP assignments usually generate a heightened level of awareness, drawing attention from many angles. Consider how you are going to manage this heightened focus to ensure your professional reputation is upheld and to maximise the internal PR opportunities that getting it right can create. A successful VIP assignment can create a terrific opportunity to gain the backing you need for your overall global mobility programme.

Key areas to manage

From the business – within the business, many eyes will be fixed on the progress of the relocation. The success or failure of a VIP move can affect individual and team morale. From a financial perspective, the business-critical nature of the assignee’s role makes it essential that the assignment goes well. Expect to be questioned by senior stakeholders with whom you may never have had any contact with before.

From the employee – the employee will also be feeling the pressure, aware that they carry a significant proportion of responsibility for the success of the assignment. There will be a very high expectation to deliver results. There will be personal and family pressures — how will you support the  employee and their family to prevent small niggles becoming larger issues?

From within your mobility team – due to the heightened risk and increased workload, pressure within your mobility team will increase. The need for increased responsiveness, specialist experience and expertise, and the extra time required to co-ordinate and manage all of the elements of the relocation will likely impact resourcing. On top of this, your existing assignment programme must continue to receive the requisite amount of attention. Successfully managing this extra workload is a difficult task that requires a great deal of planning.

From the media – media coverage can be valuable in helping to promote your business. But unwanted or negative media attention creates risk and adds pressure. Unless your business openly shares mobility-related information, it is likely that you will wish to be discreet when it comes to your business-critical moves. Such a move is often news- worthy and runs the risk of being picked up by the media. It is important to consider how to best maintain discretion and to identify the information security protocols that both vendors and your own employees should be governed by. In certain sectors, confidentiality is paramount and must permeate the entire relocation process, from planning through to end of service.

“Such a move is often news- worthy and runs the risk of being picked up by the media. It is important to consider how to best maintain discretion and to identify the information security protocols that both vendors and your own employees should be governed by.”

Daniel Natoli, Managing Director, K2 Bespoke

3. Financial, tax and legal complexities

At this level, managing the financial aspects of an assignment tends to be extremely complex. An assignee’s personal financial investments and remuneration package can be very difficult to navigate. Share schemes, pensions, benefits and rewards may also be subject to complicated tax regulations.

Planning is crucial. Think carefully about the timing of bonus payments, which could have a negative financial impact on your organisation if made at an inopportune moment. Ensure that you have a thorough understanding of all things tax-related in order to protect both your organisation and the assignee. Be aware that the structure of contractual arrangements may also be particularly challenging for a business-critical assignee — understanding employment legislation in all the relevant jurisdictions is key.

Finally, immigration requirements need to be considered early on to ensure that all parties involved are fully aware of the multiple implications of living and working in another country.

K2 Bespoke lady walking on beach

4. Policy: deciding what to include in your VIP service

Executive, business-critical or VIP assignments tend to fall outside of standard approach parameters. By their very nature, one-of-a-kind VIP moves cannot be used for the basis of a process that will subsequently be repeated. Often, rather than working to define a specific policy, a more relevant and effective approach is to define guidelines, setting broad parameters and outlining the type of employee who qualifies for this level of service. Alternatively, your organisation can create specialist policies, or flexible components within standard policies, to reflect tiers of seniority and/or complexity.

What is the difference between an increased range of services and an enhanced level of service or support? What exactly is meant by a high level of discretion? Exact definitions can prove tricky to pin down. Whether prescribed in a policy or applied ad-hoc, most organisations look to flex benefits and support for their business-critical employees, however having a defined governance process will help your organisation to navigate to highly complex process of moving VIP employees.

5. Managing risk

VIP moves have the potential to generate an exceptional return on investment. However, they also come hand in hand with multiple risks. By understanding the associated risks, you can take steps to manage and mitigate them.

Risks can include:

Risk of business strategy being compromised.

Disruption of an organisation’s day-to-day operations as a result of crucial skills or resources being unavailable at a vital time.

Risk of the move threatening the safety of the assignee. For example, a move to a dangerous location.

Contractual, insurance and employment non-compliance are risks which increase exponentially in line with the complexity of the assignment.

Regulatory and immigration restrictions may inhibit assignments. No assignee is exempt from compliance requirements.

Investment in the assignment will be high, so significant ROI will be expected. Predicted financial gains for the business may be forfeited if there are delays in the progression of the assignment. The phrase ‘time is money’ takes on increased significance with VIP moves.

An unsuccessful VIP move can catch the attention of the media. Bad press can have a detrimental effect on an organisation’s reputation and may result in a loss of revenue. It may also impact employee morale, hamper recruitment, and impact supplier or vendor business terms.

Often, the leverage of business-critical employees extends beyond the business. The greater the scope of the leverage, the greater the scope of the associated risk. Failure to manage this risk can lead to reputational damage for both the HR department/global mobility function and the organisation as a whole.

If you would like to discover more you can unlock the complete guide to Successful business-critical (VIP) assignments today.

Whether you wish to build a business-critical programme from scratch, or simply evolve/extend an existing programme, our experienced specialists are here to help, speak to a member of the K2 Bespoke team today.

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