Self-initiated moves in the gig economy

Worldwide ERC London Summit 2017 panellist Ged Gibson – from multinational technology conglomerate Cisco – talks about the benefits of self-initiated moves.

Self-initiated moves are an established element of Cisco’s mobility policy portfolio. “Typically, self-initiated moves take place for one of a number of reasons,” explains Ged Gibson, relocation partner at the global IT and networking services provider, setting the scene ahead of a discussion at Worldwide ERC’s London Summit in February.“Self-initiated moves can be for personal reasons – to follow a partner or spouse, for example – for compliance purposes from an immigration perspective, or for career development.”Self-initiated moves at Cisco, where they are possible, are one way and a straightforward transfer to local employment. This is standard across the industry. Cisco’s employer support is limited to the minimum mandatory aspects of the employment relationship, such as with immigration and taxation. Again, this is standard industry practice.

Change on the horizon?

Yet, reflecting the changing dynamic of the employment relationship – where flexibility, agility and value (in both senses) are watchwords – mobility support at Cisco is headed towards a more blended approach.For its population of employees looking for a straight transfer for career development reasons, the tech firm is starting to reshape its overall policy to a more streamlined and personalised cafeteria-style approach.In a change from the current tiered set of policies, the developments are geared to offer some assignees and the business a spectrum of personalised support dependent on personal circumstance, budget constraints and the nature of the assignment.
There is also a new approach aimed particularly at high-potential candidates, who are encouraged to volunteer for an up-to-12-month assignment. “As an employer and a mobility team, we are involved in conversations with line managers and HR stakeholders to identify who these people might be,” says Ged Gibson, one of a team of relocation experts at Cisco.“We expect the employees to have to have some skin in the game [personal investment in an undertaking] for these types of assignments, to encourage employees to have a commitment to the relocation. This is where the à la carte options come in. We need the employee to offer some element of responsibility for the move. There could be some option for the employee to contribute to housing in some way instead of Cisco covering all costs, for example.“These types of assignments could then be seen by the employee and the business as providing valuable international experience and an enabler for career development.”

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Responding to Brexit?

In consultation with stakeholders across the business and its regions, this emerging scheme means that Cisco can support its employees in a more tailored way.Dependent on the budgets and other factors, it potentially offers some self-initiating employees greater support in line with business needs. It also affords the business greater flexibility in adapting to unique personal circumstances following the possible disruption around Brexit, as well as the new US administration’s trade and immigration policies.“There is a distinct possibility that the number of self-initiated moves will rise, given the current uncertainties,” notes Ged Gibson. “There may be EU nationals looking to return to their home country from the UK, and vice versa for UK citizens in the EU. There may be an increase in these types of moves for US citizens too, perhaps, as US companies are encouraged to favour domestic investment.“It’s fair to say it is still very early days on this issue, but there is definitely the potential for more people to want to self-initiate a move.”Given Cisco’s policy development in this area, it also seems fair to say that, whatever the outcome, the organisation has considered, and is ready for, the trends that may emerge from the current uncertainty.Read more in the spring issue of Relocate magazine, which features more insight and analysis.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryGet access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit © 2017. This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Relocate magazine, published by Profile Locations, Spray Hill, Hastings Road, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JB. All rights reserved. This publication (or any part thereof) may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission of Profile Locations. Profile Locations accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein.

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