Recently we received a ten-page guide on how to invoice a US company. This depicts reality for Global Mobility HR managers who have to consider many jurisdictions in addition to bringing talent to Sweden. Some things can be done in-house, others are impossible, and most importantly, many needs are difficult to anticipate because they contrast with how things are done in Sweden.
Do you need a relocation service firm?
Global Mobility professionals will find that the learning curve needs to be steep. Surprisingly, we often hear “If I had known that there was help available, I would have called right away.” Global Mobility issues often come upon HR in the form of emergencies and there is little time to dig deep into the issues at hand.
The World Economic Forum ranks locations and Stockholm is #2 and Sweden #5 for best places to live and work in the world. No wonder HR professionals working in Sweden are busy welcoming global talent!
Don’t worry though, there is help to be found so you can stay on an even keel. Before you engage a relocation firm for all, or parts of the chores ahead, there are some questions you might take into consideration.
Ask yourself 5 questions:
1. What are your in-house capabilities?
Is global mobility part of your role already or is a talent skills gap driving the need to find talent abroad quickly? Do you work at a company with a compensation and benefits department, salary department, an HR department running alongside a team of recruiters? Or, on the other hand, does all the responsibility for holding mobility expertise fall on just a few people? These factors will determine the need for different levels of support to manage a great welcoming of talent from abroad.
Companies with departments full of experts are likely to want hands-on practical assistance with securing housing, schooling and local registrations. At the same time, companies that are fairly new to recruiting talent abroad and short staffed, probably also need policy and task guidance in addition to housing, schooling and local registration advice. In this case it makes sense to engage a firm to be responsible for compliance and to oversee the entire relocation process so you can focus on the more strategic aspects in your own role within the company.
2. How much time is available?
Even experts in local global mobility can expect 30-40 hours to settle a junior colleague in a new location and about twice that for an executive with a family. Helping someone settle in a new location may be difficult and time consuming, however it is very rewarding for those who have the time.
Take stock of how much time you have and engage an expert firm accordingly. If you have spare time and the global mobility activities are part of your job description then there are certainly portions of the settling in that can be handled in-house.
Taking care of talent from abroad isn’t only administrative, it’s also a chance to be an ambassador for your country and city. Seeing your everyday taxes, school system, government authorities from an outside view is interesting and also sharing history and everyday life with a new colleague is fun. You will read the newspapers in an entirely new way when you are constantly thinking of how to include it in your introduction to new staff in your office.
3. What are your resources?
Are you already working in an HR database and information-system that has data on immigration, salary, tax and has some data from previous transfers of talent? If you are, then you have some very useful resources at your fingertips. While rental levels are ever changing, if you have welcomed talent in the last quarter you should have a fair idea of price levels to the point of being able to guide your new colleague.
Housing is difficult in most Swedish locations. Having a database of available properties is essential and if your company collects such data you can utilise it for your staff members. If you are also sending staff members to other locations you may be able to connect inbound and outbound employees essentially killing two birds with one stone. Do remember to keep the work environment free from friction between staff members though, so do get involved with the inspection protocols, lease processing and rental level negotiations.
Having a tax consultancy firm or inhouse compensation and benefit experts will greatly help when bringing in talent.
If you don’t have access to resources to help you, a relocation services firm will considerably alleviate your burden. Not only can they assist in most matters, they know what needs to be done both inhouse and by external experts so you don’t miss anything.
4. How many moves do you handle per year?
Of course, the numbers of new talent coming into your office and location will determine what kind of support you may want to seek from outside counsel.
If you have one or two people per year and a limited budget you will be able to set aside time to fill in the blanks for them and also accompany them to the authorities, etc. Note that the more complex moves are the ones with executives moving with their family. You can anticipate them to move July/August to be ready to go when the school starts in August. Relocation firms are open across the year but if you are looking to solve some admin matters yourself, make sure it doesn’t coincide with your summer vacation.
If you have more moves than a couple per year, your time is likely to be a factor and you may have difficulties managing it all unless this is your primary job duty. We see HRs that often work almost around the clock 7 days per week when they have talent coming in from abroad. That can definitely be the answer for a short while, however, for a more long term solution either a new staff member needs to be recruited and trained to support you, or an outside counsel should be brought in when needed.
Some companies have volumes of moves from time to time. This often coincides with a local project, often IT implementations or product launches. The immigration can become very urgent and a bunch of people need a warm welcome during a short period of time. If your recruitment team has been very busy finding talents that are both a task and a cultural fit for your organisation, you may be left with all of the details around giving new employees all they need to be welcomed to your company and to Sweden.
The advantages of a number of moves at the same time is that the knowledge you gain and the jurisdiction you brush up on will be used multiple times. Tax tends to be very individual and can’t be put into a cookie-cutter, but immigration matters are more streamlined and there is scalability in the knowledge base.
The challenge is of course tailoring the support to each individual’s needs. Usually when a number of people are moving around the same time there is either time or budget allotted for the aftercare that comes after the recruitment phase is finished.
Again, depending on the resources inhouse, different levels of support is needed from handholding to strategic and policy level facilitation.
5. What is the nature of the talent?
If you have an expat talent population of young engineers who are rotating between locations, or permanent hires or executives with families planning to stay 3-5 years, you will need different services to provide to them. The programs and services you offer in your mobility policy, or in your already structured offer, should reflect who you are recruiting. Relocation companies will be able to help you evaluate the level of support needed for each type of recruit.
Key things to think about when hiring a corporate relocation services company
Speed of reply
How urgent do your queries tend to be? If you want quick and specific answers you will want to work directly with a local relocation provider that is an expert on local laws. It is also an advantage to be in the same time zone which considerably endorses fast communications and ability to move forward with cases.
If you have plenty of time and long planning cycles you can collect your expat moves with a global provider of relocation. This is suitable if you are sending staff to and from multiple locations.
Collection of data and documentation
Allowing a relocation company to provide you with optimal value would entail giving them a high clearance to keep personal data even under GDPR. A relocation company has in the past been the “house of documentation” and has often been the place to go to get all information to piece together a puzzle when looking at data and specific information.
Structured relocation companies keep records on file and can be very helpful when an HR team is no longer intact. Many clients we work with have excellent internal career paths for HR and new opportunities are often given to star HRs. The flip side to that is that new HR often don’t have the data history and have to rely on service providers to be able to assist with this. An external relocation company is often the database for knowledge. As an example, for years we were the only ones that knew about the guy in the basement at a global company that stored the keys for their own corporate apartments. We were also the ones that their tax consultants called when they needed square meters for the housing provided to be able to create the income statements for the employees. We were of great importance to them and we were happy to help.
What is out of scope
Relocation companies are very familiar with global work and have several service level agreements in place. You will find that the service level is considerably higher with relocation companies than with many other providers that work only domestically due to the international best practice benchmarking they have achieved and used for decades.
This also means relocation companies are used to working under a set program and are very aware when something is out of scope. There are different models. IF you work with a relocation management company who authorises the local company in your city with a set of services. The lead times are longer (more people involved to serve you) and you will know exactly what you get each time as the list of provided services is very clear.
When you work directly with a local provider the answers are faster and it is likely to get a bit of out of scope advice since you as a local HR also has a higher level of local knowledge. In this instance the queries tend to be on a higher level since local HR have a solid foundation of knowledge of local laws, authorities and requirements. The discussions tend to cover strategic issues in relation to policy, compliance and costs.
Global or local needs
Whether you need a global or local provider depends on your business. If you have moves to or from more than 15 countries on a regular basis then opting for a global provider is likely to be wise in order to streamline the services in set programs and a set structure.
If you have a few locations, recruiting, hiring and onboarding is part of your mission to create a good employer brand, then it’s likely that you also have a budget for that. In such a scenario, a local provider will be a good fit for you. Your opportunities to tailor your individual program will be greater without increasing costs substantially.
Self Assessment of your department & policy
In order to find the best solution for you, start with a self assessment of the areas above.
If you’re planning to bring foreign talent to Sweden, navigating an unfamiliar culture and immigration process can slow you down. Thankfully, Nimmersion’s Immigration Guide to Bringing Foreign Talent to Sweden is here to help. Let’s get your new talent down to business.