The power of celebration: learning from the Relocate awards

This year’s Relocate awards offer a number of valuable lessons for all those involved managing people and global mobility. Dr Sue Shortland, head judge of the Relocate awards, reflects on some of the key lessons learned from the 2021 awards.

Relocate Awards in Autumn 2021 issue
Autumn 2021 magazine cover
This article is taken from the latest issue of Think Global People, the new home of Relocate Magazine.
Click on the cover to access the digital edition or read all of the articles on our website.

The past year has been one like no other. No one could have predicted a pandemic that could take such a toll on human life and on the way we live and work. This year’s Relocate and Think Global People awards focused on how organisations involved in the management and mobility of individuals and their families dealt with the extreme challenges that resulted from Covid 19. The response from human resource, education and global mobility professionals and service industry firms was tremendous and the standard of entries was the best ever.The value of flexibility and well-beingThe immense downturn in global mobility had the potential to destroy or significantly damage many businesses as turnover fell away. Yet, as we learnt from the awards entries, new avenues were explored and services tailored to the changed working environment. A key aspect of this concerned flexibility. The awards entries demonstrated how a flexible approach to managing staff and clients’ mobility issues paid dividends.Besides a revised and flexible focus on business opportunities, it was notable that the level of care invested in staff and clients rose significantly. Well-being came to the forefront of business activity – and this clearly made a huge difference to the service outcomes experienced by clients. When staff are engaged, motivated and appreciated, and their own personal concerns are considered and addressed, productivity goes up, interest in and service given to clients improves, and business outcomes are positive. And so we saw this year with the awards entries. Despite the difficult business conditions, staff played their part over and above what might have been expected, service standards rose as did client delight.Sharing our learningSelfless sharing of information also proved to be an unexpected benefit from the pandemic with a plethora of webinars, research publications and networking discussion groups becoming freely available to disseminate learning. This was in evidence across the whole range of awards entry categories as businesses reported back on how they were managing particular issues. And, as unlocking continues with the success of the vaccination programme, this sharing of information is continuing – and is to be much welcomed as it improves practice for the benefit of all.Opportunities for global mobility professionalsThe pandemic also gave rise to a potentially unexpected opportunity for the global mobility profession. With global mobility restricted due to lockdowns and as visa restrictions were placed upon personal movement, so new ways of working came to the fore. Working from home/working from anywhere took hold and became the new normal. While it cannot be denied that home working or working in a different jurisdiction from the job location was already taking place pre-pandemic, working internationally but not where the role was based took on a hugely increased level of significance last year. With this came all manner of tax and immigration compliance issues – and who were best placed to handle these? Up stepped global mobility.There is no doubt that the pandemic has heightened global mobility’s presence and contribution to the talent agenda. This will serve global mobility professionals well going forward – their expertise is recognised and celebrated. Their advice is not only welcomed but positively sought after both in relation to compliance but also in terms of managing employee expectations when their desire to live in particular places may need to be accommodated or declined depending upon the compliance regime. As such, global mobility can move forward in its desire to play a major part in shaping the talent agenda. It can contribute effectively to managing talent deployment and devising policy with respect to advising on the feasibility and implications of working in different jurisdictions.Celebrating successA final reflection concerns the power of celebration. Working together in the face of adversity brought out the very best in those working the service industry, and within professionals in the human resource, education and global mobility fields. The challenges faced heighted collaboration and facilitated productive partnership activity. The awards entries were of the highest standard this year and it was clear that entrants wanted to celebrate their success. The power of that need to rejoice shone through the awards ceremony. The delight expressed by all involved was clear to see.After a tough year, the power of celebration can never be underestimated. And that for me is the main lesson learned from the awards. While entering means participants reflect back on what they did well and what they learned from it, the excitement of the ceremony itself brings out shared joy – celebration is a powerful motivator for going forward into whatever next year brings for us.
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