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COVID-19's Impact on Mobility

And I will turn it over to our host, Wendy Morrell.

Thanks, Colleen. So, as Colleen said, my name is Wendy Morrell. I lead our corporate program business channel within U.S. Bank Home Mortgage. And I really want to start by extending a warm welcome to all of our participants. We're very excited to have you here today with us.

I also want to thank you for attending today and for the overwhelmingly positive response to the meeting invite for this virtual session that we've pulled together to discuss the impact of the COVID virus on our mobility industry. There were some great questions and topics submitted, I think around 15 or so separate and distinct topics that came up. So we'll use the hour efficiently and hopefully get to as many of your questions as we possibly can.

Some of you may know that the U.S. Bank team actually kicked off a project with the help of John Sculley at the end of February. And it was really a series of client forums that we intended to host across the country.

We were originally planning on six or eight of those in various parts of the country as I mentioned. And then really kind of just focusing in on bringing together groups of corporate contacts and facilitating discussions on what you're faced with today kind of challenges, best practices and rolling that feedback up and sharing it back out.

So we did host our first. The first session we held in Charlotte, which was on February 25. And we followed that up pretty quickly in Seattle with a second session that we hosted on February 28.

And about that time is when the bottom started kind of falling out with everything going on with the virus. And we as a country started experiencing some of the restrictions with travel, social distancing, work from home, all the things that we're all dealing with day to day.

So our team kind of pulled back. We regrouped. We looked at it and said, we think this is really important to continue to work. So we pivoted and decided that we would move forward with virtual sessions.

So today, as Colleen mentioned, is the first of virtual sessions that we intend to host over the coming weeks. And with the topic being COVID virus, which is obviously the most acute topic that we're all facing on a day to day basis.

So that's it in a nutshell. I don't want to use any more of our time. I know we all want to hear from our panelists. So I'm honored to introduce our speakers today. And I want to thank them for so graciously agreeing to participate and share how they are going about adapting and dealing with some of the things that we're all faced with.

So Julie Coleman with Shell Oil, Johnny Haines with Deloitte Services and Jill Johnson with Becton Dickinson, we really appreciate the fact that you're here to share with us today. So thank you.

And then I'm going to turn it over to John Sculley, who is our moderator. And many of you probably know John. He is somebody that's worked with my team on a number of things over the years. He's a wealth of knowledge, very experienced in the mobility industry. And we always enjoy collaborating with him on these types of discussions.

So with that, John, I'll turn it over to you.

Well, thank you for the kind words, Wendy. And I really applaud the U.S. Bank team for having assembled such an extraordinary panel and such a robust audience on short notice for such an urgent topic. So you've done a masterful job there.

It's my privilege to direct some questions to our panel today so that we might hear from them about what they're experiencing and what they are planning to deal with the current environment.

But I also want to remind you that this is meant to be a peer to peer sharing session as well. So please make full use of the polling that is going on in parallel so that you can have your voice heard as part of our collective data gathering on these issues and trends. And also, a reminder that there'll be opportunity to raise your hand and contribute by way of comment in the Q&A session toward the back end of our visit today.

That said, I would like to queue up our first question for our panel. And the reason behind this is I think it's important to talk about the scale and complexity of the challenges that everyone is facing in the corporate mobility role under these pandemic conditions.

So I would like to ask first, Johnny, if you don't mind, how big are your respective transferee and assignee populations? What's the scale of this look like at Deloitte? And what kind of global footprint is that distributed across?

OK. Currently, we are working with probably about 300 or 400 active transfers in process. In a given year we probably do 700 to 800 of both domestic international. But we basically put everything on hold and it was not already in process. And so I'd say, right now, we're working with about 250 to 300 people in different various stages of the relocation.

Our relocation department set up probably a little bit different than most of the people on the phone. We have a very large international delegation at Deloitte. And we have a department called global mobility. And they're actually-- I'm a client of theirs. I do their work.

They deal with the policies and they do short term assignments. They manage our people while on assignment. So each assignee has an HR leader that is tracking and keeping up with them. And then I'm working with them individually on where we are in different stages of the transfer.

We've had people that had started moving. We would have the family in one location, the transferee in another location, trying to figure out how to put them together. Many people were wanting to go back home. So we had to work on issues of getting them back home.

So we're taking one issue after another. Obviously, I dealt with this in 9/11. I dealt with this in 2008, with the slowdown. But I would have to say, I've never seen nothing like what we're dealing with today. And everything changes not only daily, but I would say hourly.

I certainly hear that. And we'll want to dig into that repatriation dilemma more deeply a little later on. I wonder if I might ask Julie, with Shell's worldwide distributed population, you must have some challenges too. What does that look like by way of numbers and global footprint at Shell?

Yeah. So at Shell, we have about well over 4,000 expats that are active right now in about 70 different countries. So as you can imagine, that's really challenging when it comes to the type of location, the country they're in, and the health care that's available.

From a domestic standpoint, we move about 900-plus employees every year, domestically. And that would include full perm moves as well as temporary assignments, rotators and new hires. And I did see quite a few questions on interns, which we'll get to, I believe, in a little bit later.

We don't have a huge intern population. We have about 150 interns that come on board for Shell during the summer. And I know those are going to be challenges for all of us. But I believe we'll get into those in a little bit later.

Yes, we will. That was a common concern at many of the companies. And last but not least, Jill, what's Becton Dickinson looking like in terms of the transferee and assignee population and their distribution?

Sure. And, hi, everybody. And for those of you that aren't familiar with BD, we're a global medical technology company. We operate in about 140 countries. Our mission is really advancing the world of health. Our products are used for medical research, diagnostics, delivery of care, patient health care worker safety, genomics, all sorts of areas.

And we are actually yesterday announced a release of a new point of care test that can detect antibodies in blood to confirm current or past exposure to COVID in as little as 15 minutes.

Oh, man.

So we are very excited about this new product that's being released. And obviously, our products and services are considered essential services. And we have been ramping up manufacturing during this time, especially in areas like hypodermic needles, [INAUDIBLE], catheters, IV sets and core medical services.

As it relates to our mobility population, relative to our size, it's fairly small. I mean, we have 60,000-plus, 55,000 employees worldwide. We do about 600 moves per year. Half of those are US domestic. The majority of our global moves are one way transfers. But we do a fair amount of long term, short term commuters, FPTs et cetera, the usual. You know, full scope of international policy and services.

Thank you. That gives us, across the panel, a pretty good sense of the range and diversity of the challenges you might be facing.

Colleen, we've been running some polls related to this. Do we have some results on the polls up as yet? Thank you very much.

So this is showing initially on domestic transfers, what sort of reaction companies are placing on moves in progress. And while some of you do not yet really have a determination around it, of the companies that have responded, it appears that the most frequent response is that moves have been delayed, in some cases canceled.

And a little bit surprising to me is that of those who responded, a significant number are still on the business as usual mode with regard to relocation. I would suspect that that's probably something that's going to be discussed further as things unfold. But there appear to be policy decisions not yet made with respect to moves in progress. That was in respect to the domestic moves.

With regard to new hires, delays appear to be a little more prevalent, although there is still a substantial response block that is operating on a business as usual basis. And then with regard to the international assignments, it's running a little deeper still in terms of delays being experienced and more frequent cancellations than we saw in either of the domestic categories. And almost no one operating business as usual in terms of international assignments right now.

So that, I'm sure, comes as no great shock, but certainly confirms a suspicion we would have had.

I'd next like to move to a second question for our panel. Because we have these pending and new moves going on. And we've heard from our audience about that. But respectively at your companies, what are you doing about the moves that would otherwise be initiated now, or already in process?

And let me bring that back to Jill first, if I may. How are you looking at these pending and new relocations and assignments that would otherwise be taking place?

Sure. Well, first, let me say, [INAUDIBLE] providing information on travel directives, flexible working plans, business critical hiring and roles and ensuring the safety of all of our associates. So with that clear guidance, we were able to move quickly to ensure that our associates were safe.

We contacted all managers associates who were active and we put a plan in place for each and every associate, just to ensure that they were safe and that critical business operations went unimpeded to the extent possible. Obviously, any travel requires senior management approval.

Within the US, we continue to work with the business to provide relocation services for business critical and non-critical roles. The business knows that at some point, the pandemic will get under control. And we want to get ready for those services. So while we may be sheltering in place for the month of March and April, or beyond, we are also proceeding in tandem with the move process.

So specifically for US domestic, I've got a group move. For our manufacturing development program, it's a rotational assignment. It spans three years for hypos.

And, you know, we've had to modify the programs. For example, we want to ensure that obviously, first and foremost, the safety of our associates in compliance with social distancing recommendations. So we canceled home finding trips.

We're using virtual home finding services, virtual surveys for household goods. We're providing additional temporary living in lieu of home finding to ensure they have time to locate housing once they arrive, hopefully in June. That may be postponed. We'll see.

And then just directing [INAUDIBLE] to see what kind of flexibility we have. And then internationally, you know, we're moving forward with assignments. Obviously, everything is contingent on border openings and also, delays we're also seeing, obviously, delays with visa processing.

So our corporate headquarters in Switzerland, we're planning for moves in there. But you know, we know that visa processing is not happening until June 15. So we're staying very close to our immigration provider to plan accordingly. Just monitoring government directives and other pertinent information.

Very thoughtful approach and certainly many facets to it. How are you responding at Deloitte with that, Johnny? What's going on there in terms of those in-process situations?

Well, the first thing that we decided to do is to put a hold on anything that had not started. Actually, delayed everything until June. That included international assignments as well as domestic transfers.

Then we started unraveling all of those that were in process and determining where they were. Were they in a position where things could be put on hold. What commitments had been made-- like I said previously, we had a few people who the transferee had already gone on site, that the family had not joined yet. So we had to work through a number of scenarios there. We're still working through quite a bit.

We're taking each transaction, each situation, and trying to deal with how we proceed. On the domestic side, we had quite a few people who had sold their homes, had not closed on them yet, had already purchased in the new location. So obviously, having to work and address through each one of those.

It was a little bit overwhelming. I do relocation work for all entities of Deloitte, which is audit, tax, consulting and advisory. So as of this morning, we put together a panel representing all functions so that we make sure that everybody is operating consistently as far as how we're handling each transaction. That we're wanting feed in from [INAUDIBLE] as part of this, because it's a little bit overwhelming for just my department of 10.

So that took place this morning. So we're hoping to have meetings on a regular basis to address each transaction that's going on. And we've had some people that are already on assignments that are wanting to either to go home or come back to the US. And we've had some very interesting things happening in that area in trying to address those requests and allowing people to go home that want to.

We have a few people that are not able to go home because they can't get into their country. So that's the extension of Temp housing and other things that we're having to provide until we're able to get them where they want to go. So everything is a moving piece. And the pieces are moving daily. It's the best I can say.

Yeah. It's got to be very hard to maintain a coherent program and consistent approaches when you have such diversity in case by case situations. I appreciate the challenge of that.

Julie, you must see that in spades with your distribution of people, right?

Yeah, absolutely. And what Johnny and Jill have already mentioned, we're doing a lot of the same things. Of course, we have a travel ban for domestic and international air travel.

And really, we've kind of functioned off of our guiding principles that if it's business critical, then we continue to move. But we look at alternative ways of how we're going to handle that move.

And then everyone else is really on pause, unless like Johnny said, they're already in the process. They've already sold their home. They are now in transit. Household goods that were packed, we need to get them into the new home. So those we're really looking at it case by case.

But any new moves domestically, we're really putting them on pause. As far as international, all of those paused except for repatriations. And I'll talk about in a little bit. I think there's another question. We are doing evacuations. So I'll tell you a little bit about what we're doing there from the international standpoint.

Yes. We will come to that. Sorry?

And as far as new hires, we're still onboarding new hires. Matter of fact, we had quite a few that joined today. But they will work virtually. And we will not start their relocation until we determine the right time to relocate them.

And then when you look at interns, I know there are a lot of questions on the interns. That is still being reviewed at Shell. But our thought is-- and we're looking at how we can manage that virtually with our interns-- because interns, where we don't have a huge population, it's very important to our development and growth within Shell.

And so we're definitely looking at that. I know that there are some other companies that have canceled their intern programs. And again, we're still reviewing it. And a lot of the work the interns can do can do virtually. So I think this is kind of the new norm for many of us.

I think so. And Colleen, you have some polling results for us in this arena?

Yes, I do. And I'm going to share those. But one thing I would like to point out is when we do open up the next poll question, if you're not able to see the poll questions on the right hand panel, you may need to click on the little arrow next to the word polling. So when we are asking these questions and displaying these results, you do need to expand that panel on the right-hand side. I'm sorry. We didn't point that out earlier.

But those results should be up there now, John.

Got it. Thank you. And this should be visible to all of you. But as you can see, the respondents were almost equally divided between those who are delaying start dates and those that are beginning these new hire positions in a remote or virtual way. So those seem to be the initial out of the blocks responses with respect to that timing.

We also had asked about whether or not there were other changes being made in these practices. And we've got a smattering of rescinded offers and virtual work. And a little bit of extended start date with respect to new hires. But really no single best practice solution has emerged yet.

It appears that companies are dabbling with these alternatives without there being a consensus around any one best approach at this point. So a good time to keep talking to each other, I would say.

Let's move on to our third question for our panel at this point. And this question had its genesis in the thought that these new circumstances are creating new kinds of administrative needs and service support that we may never have faced before.

So we're interested in hearing whether any of you on the panel are looking to engage your current supply chain in different ways in response to some of the special and hopefully temporary needs that we're facing as a result of the outbreak. Let me direct this one first to you, Julie, at Shell. Are you doing anything new by way of service arrangements in reaction to the current setting?

Yes. And I'm just going to touch on a couple of them. One is, within household goods-- so we have a big population of people that move domestically between Texas and Louisiana. And as of Monday, anyone coming from Louisiana to Texas has a 14-day quarantine-- mandatory quarantine, where they have to actually fill out a document. And they will be checking to see if they are quarantined. So they have to give an address.

So that has been a challenge with folks that are trying to move their household. To be perfectly honest, a lot of our employees that are in the process of relocating from Louisiana to Texas want to move now because the high cases of COVID that are in the Louisiana area is making them very nervous.

So it's really working with our household goods provider and making sure that they have it very, very well coordinated. That it's basically pack and load on one or two days, and then take that truck to Houston and unload. And so they don't have the opportunity to possibly fill that truck.

So those are things that we're looking at. And do they have a permanent house to move into? So if they don't, or if they can't get in to their house for like a week or so, we're keeping them in Louisiana in temporary accommodations. And then moving them with their goods.

We're also seeing where a lot of our employees don't want to be in the house when the people are packing and loading their items. So our household goods provider is having a quality assurance person there to oversee the packing and loading and unpacking. And we are putting our employees in temporary accommodations, just for a couple of days while that's happening.

So it's really looking at creative ways to help people. We have a couple of families that they're expecting children in the next few months. And they're ready to move immediately. And so that has a whole different realm of challenges in that that we're really working very quickly to get their move completed.

I think the other thing-- I'm going to turn to a little bit of the international side. And this is something with the H1B. Some of our expats have left the US and gone back home. Or our short term international assignments have gone back home.

And really looking at how we manage the immigration process with them working from home, and not working at a Shell location. Especially our H1Bs. And making sure that we are compliant. So we are working with our immigration providers a little bit differently than we normally do.

Great examples both. And I think the Texas Louisiana thing points out how we have sort of micro market issues that are embedded within this global problem. So it's very interesting that way.

Jill, anything different for you in terms of new kinds of service arrangements?

Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, [INAUDIBLE] we're continuing to partner really closely during this time with our top immigration and relocation partners, getting daily, weekly guidance as the landscape changes.

We're also asking new questions that we didn't have to or didn't think to ask previously to ensure safety and just accommodate the new rules on social distancing. More virtual services. You know, what can we do online? How can we abide by these new guidelines and ensure safety?

What are the van lines doing to ensure disinfection of trucks? You know, temporary housing accommodations, cleaning protocols. Virtual DSP services. You know, is there personnel testing? Are you taking temperature monitoring?

When things do loosen up, and you know, we're able to do house hunting, you know, do we put in new rules so that our associates minimize any contact with folks? So those are the kinds of things that we're thinking about.

We've also had some situations where we've had to call on providers to help us with different situations. Our products are considered essential services. So you know, the manufacturing of medical devices is critical during this period.

So we have been able to ramp up our manufacturing pretty extraordinarily. And we've also needed to ensure people going across the borders from US to Mexico, US to Canada. So we work closely with legal to provide letters for those associates to support their entry and exit based on the CISA guidelines.

We've also had situations in Singapore. You know, the border closed down between Singapore and Malaysia. And we have a key plant in Singapore. But our workers are all in Malaysia. So--


We had 120 employees raise their hand to separate from their families during that time. Very quickly made that decision, got them into temporary housing, just to ensure that we can continue to produce critical medical devices, even with the border closed. So those are the kinds of things that we're facing that, of course, we never dreamed of.

And that's certainly a heroic solution on their part. And on BD's part. That's really remarkable.

Johnny, what's happening at Deloitte in that regard? Any new service requirements you've run into?

I think we're really fortunate. A little bit different than Jill and Julie, in fact, that what we sell is knowledge. So the requirements of getting people from one point to another is not as great as it is to get products out and things made.

We're just consulting and doing accounting work, tax work. A lot of that can be done virtually. So that's why we were it's little bit easier for us to sort of shut down and not move anyone. We just have to deal with what's in process,

Now, obviously, that's created a lot of different challenges, as I mentioned earlier. We don't outsource anything but the home sale piece. So we're in direct contracts with household goods, temporary living, mortgage lenders, all of the different aspects. So obviously, we're keeping close tabs with our providers and ready to go whenever we need to. And then we're dealing with each transaction as it needs to be addressed.

What we've done internally is on global mobility, we have a team that's looking at each issue there. Making some consistent decisions among all of our functions for how we deal with those issues.

And we have another team of talent professionals in dealing with the domestic issues as well.

Very good.

We're also going to be setting up plans for when we're able to go back to the normal plan, and what that normal plan would look like, which is some of the things I think that Jill and Julie may have mentioned.

What kind of instructions are we going to provide for house hunting trips for when we open that up. Selling the home-- because if people will be coming in, looking at the homes, what the comfort level is with that. Those types of things.

So we're just getting started with how we're going to operate once things loosen up just a little bit.

And I'm sure there'll be much more depth to all these things as we get more time and more experience with circumstances. But certainly some bold and wise initiatives from all three of your firms at this point.

Colleen, we have some polling results here too we might take a look at?

Yep. I just put them up.

Thank you. All right. So people are clearly seeing effects on the household goods in real estate related, including the process of appraisals and inspections. There are clearly impacts and delays in those areas. And of course, subsequently, the title companies, which are more on the back end of the real estate process.

Visa and immigration, very pronounced disruption at 29% of the respondents citing V and I related issues. So that's right up there with real estate and household goods. So I think it's safe to say that all of the major components of relocation are or will be experiencing delays and disruptions from the processes that we're looking at right now.

That said, I would like to briefly touch on a fourth question. Pardon me. Because we had so much concern about people who are currently on assignment and may or may not be candidates for repatriation, either temporarily or permanently under the current circumstances.

And so we're interested in knowing whether your companies are mandating that assignees be repatriated at this time. Are you looking for volunteers to be repatriated? Are you looking for people to shelter in place rather than trying to relocate in the midst of this? Where are you at with respect to repatriations under emergency situations?

And let me take that back to you, Johnny.

OK. We started working on this at the very beginning. We were initially wanting anyone who wanted to go back home to go back. Gave them a time frame when we wanted to get them to travel and get it all done at one time if they could.

We gave it to the individuals, the option of staying put or going back, or whatever they wanted to do. And we had a lot of movement done during that period of time.

Now, that was early on, before things started escalating. Since things have escalated, we have people who have changed their positions.

I had one specific issue with a transferee who was here from Italy. She had only arrived in New York and only been there for maybe a few weeks.

We offered her a chance to go back to Italy. Obviously, things in Italy were at a bad stand at that time. She decided to stay. Then all of a sudden, things get crazy in New York. She panics. And the next thing you know, she's calling us and somehow or another she got herself home in Italy.

And now we've got to figure out, OK, now, what do we do with her apartment? And how do we get her things out of her apartment? Because all she did was grab a bag and go.

So we were having some people working quickly, with emotion, and not thinking through some things. And that's why we've got talent professionals and people assigned to each person, trying to keep tabs of what they're dealing with emotionally. And trying to get them to think through what they're wanting to do, and not just deal with the media and the things that they're hearing.

But we certainly have had several challenges. We've got a transferee that we moved to San Francisco. His wife was still in China. Obviously, right out. He was supposed to be there about a month or two before she came. And then all of a sudden everything happened in China.

Now, in order to get her to the US, the only option is to go through Cambodia. And then 14 day delay in Cambodia. And then we don't know what happens when they get to the US. Because she's still a Chinese citizen. So there is all kinds of things that we're working through with each transferee, just to figure out how to get families back together and get people back where they want to go.

I think at this point, the firm's just trying to do what makes the transferees comfortable. Even if it somewhat disrupts business, because we're all working from home. And then try to figure out how do we unravel this once things settle down.

Sure. How about you, Jill? Are you mandating that people come home? Or what is your stance on that?

I think similar to Johnny, BD neither mandated nor requested anyone to repatriate. Our approach really was just to reach out to each individual associate on assignment, ensure number one their safety, determine if they had any concerns about sheltering in place during this time.

Most of our associates overwhelmingly requested to stay. And given that the virus has infiltrated every jurisdiction-- state, county, country-- we really didn't see the rationale to return folks back to their home country. But if they wanted to return, we would have accommodated the request to be back home with family, to the extent that travel restrictions would allow.

But essentially, we believe that the safest option is to have everyone shelter in place for the time being. We didn't really have any expats in certain hotspots like Wuhan or Northern Italy during when that phase was happening.

Of course, our corporate headquarters are in New Jersey, the tri-state area. We have many foreign nationals working there. They're sheltering in place with us.

You know, we had a couple of situations like a commuter in Northern Italy in Milan. And you know, he is remaining in the US. We had to ask our provider to go in and actually pack up his things and have them shipped back.

That was kind of unique. And then we also had several separated families. And they're all just sheltering in place for the time being. Unfortunately, they can't be together at this time.

I had someone whose daughter went over to Germany to be with friends. He's in the US. And for her graduation-- and she got caught with the borders and the travel restrictions. They were going to go to Canada. And then the Canada-US border got shut.

So anyways, we told them, don't try that. Because they're going to know you were in Germany. And anyways, they're not going to let you in. So you know, the best thing we're finding is just stay put. Things will get better. And so far, that's working.

Good. Julie, any brief addition you might make to that? Or are you on a similar track to Johnny and Jill there?

Well, we had that. I think, early on, repatriations that people wanted to come back, or temporary repatriationns, they wanted to come back to their home country.

But we have had and we're starting to see more voluntary and mandatory evacuations of expats out of country. So last week, we had a voluntary evacuation out of Nigeria and all the expats and their families. We chartered a flight to go to Nigeria. Took everyone back to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. And then they flew from there on their base country.

Today starts the evacuation of Indonesia. And both of those were not huge expat populations. But we do have a possible one out of Central Asia. About 174 expats and 500 family members that will have a decision by the end of this week, if we evacuate them. And it's really based on the country they're in, the health system that they have there, and the economic climate. So all of those are what have compounded this.

And what all three of your comments drive home for me is not just the magnitude of these issues, but the complexity of them, with all the local variations that require compliance.

May we take a look at some polling results for this section? Thank you, Colleen.

And the prevailing response, as you see on this, is that companies are tending to deal with this on a case by case basis. That we're not seeing mandates. It's more common to instruct to shelter in place than it is to mandate a move.

And case by case being by far the prevalent answer. And more commonly, employee choice than company discretion on whether or not to move a given individual.

We also asked about what services might be provided for those individuals who are repatriating as a result of this process. And certainly, transportation comes up some of the time.

Housing assistance-- and this is referring to home country now. Home country housing assistance from 13% of the responses. Only a little nibble at career and placement support. I think there will probably be a lot of wood to chop with that later on.

And nothing yet by way of family services in terms of school or spousal support. I think that's also a need that we will see growing as things unfold and people are displaced for extended periods of time.

At this point, and thank you again to the panel for all your information that you've shared so far with us. But I think with a few minutes of remaining time here, we'd like to move to more of an open forum area. And we will be posing a few questions that were provided from the participants that we would like to hear more broadly from our audience about.

And I'd like to ask Colleen just to give us a brief refresher on how someone can raise their hand and contribute to this part of our discussion if they see fit.

Yeah. Absolutely. So if you see the participants panel on the right-hand side of your screen, toward the bottom of that, you should see a little button with a hand. And if you mouse over that, it will say, raise hand. And you can click on that. And I will be able to see who has their hand raised, if somebody would like to chime in on this question that we have up here.

So if you would like to do that, please do so. Colleen will assist in identifying someone who wishes to speak. But if you do speak, please benefit us with introducing yourself so we know who we're hearing from.

That said, I'd like to get to our first question for our general audience. And that is, how are you planning to prioritize relocations once the clouds have parted and we're getting back to whatever the future normal is going to look like. Is there thinking going on already in your companies as to how you would resume in sensible priority the process of redeploying your people?

And we'll look here for anyone who wants to raise their hand.

Yes, John, it looks like we have a pretty quiet audience. I don't know if we want to turn that over to our panelists, see if they have any thoughts on that.

Well, I'd be glad to do that. Let me make it a jump ball for our panel. Anyone want to speak to the process of prioritizing moves post-crisis?

At Shell, we're really looking at what's business critical. So not so much from a development standpoint of an employee, but really where is the skill set that we need in that location. And where we need to just keep the business running and business critical. So that's what our plan is.

As I think everyone knows, this is taking a lot of financial hit on a lot of companies. So really looking at who do we move and why are we moving them.

Very good. I think it's a related question. And we'll put this out to our general audience as well, in case anyone wants to chime in on this. But certainly, with all the cost pressures that are going to already result from the new circumstances and certainly will be an operating concern going forward, what are you anticipating by way of the direction of budget cuts that might impact mobility going forward? How will companies look to meet their new financial requirements for cost reduction?

Are you seeing any hands, Colleen that would like to address this? While people are thinking about that, let me again toss that back to our panelists. Another jump ball. Anyone anticipating how budget cuts would be accomplished going forward?

This is Johnny. I think one of the things that we're looking at now is all of the moves that we put on hold. And they're going to be looked at very closely to determine whether it's really mission critical for them to be relocated at this time.

A lot of us work remotely anyway. Is it possible that we can serve a client remotely? Or does that person really need to be in the location where the client is. So I would say we're dissecting every move that's already been approved that hasn't started to determine whether they need to proceed.

So a more critical eye. And possibly a higher level of approval and more of an ROI kind of orientation, perhaps, than may have been the case in the past. Is that fair?

That's correct. It's going to be looked at very closely. And there's going to be more scrutiny over whether there is a need to actually relocate the person.

Very good. And this would certainly relate to that. But we're anticipating that companies may look to implement other kinds of directives, whether they're cost control or duty of care, or wherever they may take us. But are you anticipating that your companies are going to be putting out any kind of new policy directive, or new kind of operating instruction as would affect relocation?

One example might be justifying business travel or relocation travel going forward, both from an expense standpoint and a safety and control standpoint. But are there other things beyond the more obvious one of travel that you think we're going to see as directives or policies going forward.

Yes. Still pretty quiet audience here. If you want to have the panel.

Sure. Anyone on the panel care to chime in on other kinds of directives or policies you anticipate?

I mean, I can jump in. This is Jill from BD. I mean, we're continuing to actively assess the situation and see if there's going to be any adjustments to policy or cost containment strategies. We feel like it's still really early. You know, BD is needing to maintain and ramp up operations. So maybe it's a little bit different from other companies.

We just completed a series of focus groups with our HR business partners and talent acquisition group. And cost containment is always a topic of conversation.

And as I consult with the business it's definitely top of mind and we continue to face downward pressure in that area. So I imagine you know, once we're able to fully assess the situation, we'll probably be taking a look at that. But it's still early.

It is early. [INAUDIBLE].

John, we have a question that's been asked by a couple of people. I'd like to see if we could squeeze that in. And then maybe we can have some follow up with some of these other questions that were submitted here.

But one that was asked by a couple people was, how are corporations dealing with the employees' 2018 or 2019 incomes that were impacted by relocation moneys that are now putting them over the threshold to qualify for the government relief payments that are going to be coming out?


So I don't know if we can have the panel or someone address that.

Sure. Let me toss that to the panel. Because I've not personally seen any data on that. And just, if you did not hear the question, it was whether or not companies are addressing the relocation-related incomes of 2018 and 2019 that might be affecting people's eligibility for the federal relief payment that they would otherwise receive. Anybody reacting to that yet?

I think we did see some guidance from PwC and some information that came out. We are not yet at that point where we've dug into it. You know, the impacts on the tax piece. So I don't know if-- yeah. It's still early. So but definitely a good-- an area we'll need to be looking at.

And with the timing of assistance payments, this may end up being an after the fact issue anyway. The payments may be out before anything could be revised by way of prior year earnings.

With that said, I would just like to point out that we have been both blessed and overwhelmed with questions from the participant audience. And if your particular question was not addressed, either through polling or discussion today, we apologize for that. But do want to point out we'll be looking to deal with those in future sessions as well, as best we can.

In any event, the enormous participation we've had, both online and in-person by way of our presenters today has been a real gift to all involved. I'm most appreciative of the chance to have worked with you all on this today and hope that the dialogue has given those of you listening in some new ideas and new approaches, or at least issues awareness as you go forward with your respective mobility program.

So it's been an extraordinary service contribution of our three panelists. And I'm very indebted to you. And thank you so much for your sharing on that.

And that said, I would like to return to Wendy for some closing comment before we call it a day. Wendy?

Thanks, John. Yeah, I would just echo John's comments. I'd like to start by thanking our panelists for sharing. You guys were awesome. And we appreciate your openness and willingness to kind of take us through some of the situations that you're dealing with. And you know, I think the word complexity was used. And it struck me as I was listening as well that just the sheer complexity in which you all are operating-- that we all are operating at this point in time is just really-- it truly is unprecedented.

And you know, some of the situations that were described are just, I think, beyond what most of us have ever experienced even with-- some of us, I might be part of this audience that are a little bit older and have experienced many, many years of relocation and mobility. But you know, truly unprecedented times.

And you know, I think that it's so obvious to me how caring and amazing our mobility community is. And clearly this is an opportunity for us to continue to come together. I think communication is so important.

I don't think that we can communicate enough at this point. So I certainly hope that what you heard today from our panelists has been helpful. And as Colleen mentioned when she opened the call, the call is being recorded. So we will have the call recording as well as a meeting summary that will be available to our participants soon.

So we'll be getting that turned around pretty quickly. And I would just like to finally thank our attendees for your participation in today's call. And I'd like to wish everyone well. Be safe. And thank you again.

Great. Thanks, Wendy

Thanks everybody for attending.

Appreciate it.

And this concludes our call. And you may now disconnect.

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Webinar - Navigating COVID-19: Balancing transferees’ needs and emotions 

Tags: COVID-19
Published: April 15, 2020

The rapid rise and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic turned business as usual on its head overnight. In its wake, mobility specialists are facing unprecedented new challenges as they navigate both disruptions to usual processes and the emotions of employees. To support clients in navigating these uncharted waters, U.S. Bank hosted a virtual forum to bring mobility specialists across an array of industries together to share challenges and solutions.

Several thought-provoking themes emerged during the forum. Forum moderator Joh Sculley, SCRP, observed that “it’s not enough to be reactive” when companies and mobility professionals are operating in such uncertain times. “Being aware and anticipating shifting and emerging needs will help ensure relocation stability.”

The forum, help on April 1, 2020, featured three mobility specialists:

  • Julie Coleman, CRP, GM
    Regional Contracts Manager, HR Services – Americas
    Shell Oil
  • Johnny Haines, SCRP, SGMS-T
    Sr. Manager, Relocation Services
    Deloitte Services LP
  • Jill Johnson
    Sr. Manager Global Mobility – Americas, Total Rewards
    Becton Dickinson

Read a summary of the forum.

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