The Hidden Messages of Global Mobility Programs

What is an international mobility program? Are there different ones, and how should you interpret them? In this article, we will try to answer those two questions. We will also delve into the two types of relocation programs: downgrades and upgrades. Lastly, we will briefly explore how different companies use mobility programs to express their company culture.

The many reasons for relocating employees

Global Mobility Managers and Talent Acquisition teams often send a message to the prospective employee when assigning a relocation program. However, a note about what is valued internal conveyed, and it can take some time before it is understood. 

Let me explain.

Many recruiters make a difference between a significant talent to the business and offer a customized grand relocation program as part of the persuasion to get a top candidate to sign on. 

While more generic positions or junior roles may have other components in their package to entice them to move to Sweden, the salary may be more interesting than the many perks provided by the Swedish Welfare state, such as inexpensive schooling. Getting a generous relocation program, may at least before the move, play a lesser role when it comes to signing on for a new position. 

At other times moving employees can have other drivers than business. The first to notice is often the relocation company. Sometimes an employee is not a fit in their current position or office and is given a second chance in a new country. The move may not be entirely voluntary, and the receiving team may not be aware of the underlying factors. You most often see this practice in large corporations. Relocation companies have usually come across these assignments and call it a DOWNGRADE. 

A downgrade is never publicly communicated, so it may take some time to understand that we need extra care here. 

What is a DOWNGRADE?

A person that the company moves, but the transfer isn’t business driven. It uses when it is impossible or too costly to fire a person. However, it will send a strong message to the individual. It’s the corporate version of sending someone to Siberia. 

Why do companies need to downgrade?

A business developer that hasn’t met sales targets.

A sexual harassment case that has been muted publicly but can not silence internally. In such cases, the company may want and need to move the problem elsewhere.

A problematic person gets a transfer to get a second chance.

How do you spot a Downgrade?

The move is not following the school year for a family

The movement do without a sufficient budget or support

Sometimes the assignee does not realize it is a downgrade and expects more support than is provided while HR is holding back

Sometimes the downgrade is using the relocation process to negotiate a severance package and will make life very difficult for the relocation company, especially around housing

The role and the experience do not align with an average career ladder

These downgrades should not mix up with the Dreamers. People looking for the Swedish dream and having a self-initiated move that does not base on many insights can also happen off-season. 

And then we have the UPGRADES

Joe will go! 

Some industries send staff, usually men, to godforsaken places where the job needs to get done, but the destination may not be excellent. Often they go without their families due to a lack of schools and decent living conditions. It opens up for the Upgrades. It is familiar enough that the families stay at home or live in the closest city possible, and lonely men find local, young partners. 

How are Upgrade situations handled? 

The former wife is taken care of elegantly, with respect and care all the way home. All expenses paid. The “Joe will go” is important enough to the company and warrants such costs. The spouses have often dedicated a significant number of years to support the employee and kept all the way home. 

An Upgrade can also be a promotion! 

Young people that a company wants to train for the future often get that opportunity in a small country (like Sweden) where they can be a big fish in a small pond. Essentially, get to do things in a smaller market where a possible failure is not too costly. 

How do you spot an Upgrade?

The assignee provides a relocation program more prominent than the role would generally warrant. But, again, a signal from the company that we believe in you and will do anything we can to make this successful. 

An upgrade is usually enthusiastic, a problem solver, and grateful. For example, on our website, we have a testimonial from a promotion that wrote, “YAY, I did a little dance in my new apartment! I’m so happy – Thank You! “

The different ways companies use their Global Mobility Program to express culture


All employees, regardless of rank, family size, or seniority, get a generous program.

Large Swedish companies have done this for decades. It is easy to administer, and it is a no questions asked policy, with no comparison and no negotiation around the relocation program. Everyone is a valued employee is the message they want to express. 


Depending on seniority, rank, and importance to the company, a program customizes to suit all the above plus family sizes. 

A message sends that it pays to work hard and become a key player in this company. 


A Lump Sum gives towards relocation expenses. Service providers have been vetted. Lastly, the ex-pat can use the relocation allowance towards getting assistance with household goods move, tax advice, relocation & home finding services. 

The message is that you are accountable for your relocation success and can pick what is most important to you. Typically, companies that apply this model will not include immigration and compliance into the lump sum model since they are responsible for following the law.

Self-initiated moves vs Corporate driven moves

Some companies provide different programs depending on who is the initiator. Some believe self-initiated moves are more successful, and the person moving is further motivated and will give a more extensive program to boost the relocation. Others think that if you want to move here, you can assume the cost and work to do so. 

Corporate-driven moves – often have the relocation program scope as part of the motivating factor to get the employee to accept the transfer. 

The message depends on the company’s view of the individual’s motivation.  

Do you know what best expresses your corporate culture and values? 

What side effects will your choice mean for the HR team? 

Nimmersion has worked with all models for many years and can help you navigate these choices. Each relocation program can correspond to the values of our clients’ organizations, whether self-serve or handholding.

Would you like to know more about global mobility programs?

Would you like to learn more about this topic? Have you been offered a global mobility program? Or are you an employer thinking about offering one to one of your employees? Would you like our assistance? Whatever the case, please feel free to reach out to us here at Nimmersion.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Relocate Global Talent Easily

Let us help you relocate your international talent
to make the transfer as smooth as possible.