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The challenges and opportunities of helping Indian clients to relocate

13 May 2019

Marianne Curphey speaks to Simon Johnston, CEO of Icon Relocation, one of the fastest growing relocation companies in the UK, about the challenges of relocating employees from India to destinations around the globe.

India has huge potential – both inbound and outbound – and it is a country that has seen rapid cultural and economic changes over the past few years.

Until recently, Indian assignees were not supported by their companies when relocating in the same way that employees from the UK might expect to be supported. Instead of receiving advice and financial compensation for the move, many Indian companies sent their staff abroad with a plane ticket and some temporary arrangements for accommodation.

Global mobility in relation to India

This is now changing, says Simon Johnston, CEO of Icon Relocation, which helps companies prepare, support and move employees across the globe. He will be talking at the Festival of Global People about the challenges and opportunities of global mobility, particularly with reference to India, and the rapid growth in digital solutions as a way of supporting clients and managing costs.

Simon, who is Chair of the Association of Relocations Professionals (ARP), will be speaking on Day 1 of Relocate’s Festival of Global People in London on May 14. He joins more than 30 keynotes speakers and internationally renowned experts to address the burning issues around relocation and global mobility today.

Corporate housing solutions

“We have looked after short-term business travellers for two decades and provided corporate housing solutions for many clients,” he explains. “While that is still a large part of our work, we are also providing digital solutions for clients who want to support their staff before, as well as during, the assignment.”

He says that, unlike business travellers coming from the UK or US, the majority of people who relocate from India do not get a package from their employer.

“They tend to get a plane ticket and temporary accommodation or Airbnb until they find their own housing,” he says.

This is now changing, driven by a need to improve the relocation experience for staff, and to ensure that the client is protected from problems that the relocating employee might unwittingly cause.

Improving staff retention rates

“Much of the change in the market has been driven by the need to improve staff retention rates,” he explains. “For many assignees coming from India, it is often the first time they have left the country and they can find it very stressful to have to find their own property. If things don’t go well, they might not stay on the assignment.

“In terms of productivity, they are taking time off work to sort out housing and other personal issues and that affects the billable time that the company can charge them out at. It means they are being less productive. If they are stressed and unhappy, they may end up cutting short their assignment, or coming home for good – neither of which is a good outcome for the employer. “We can talk to the assignee, help them to understand what it will mean to move abroad, help them draw up a list of potential properties they might like to live in. All this means they are a lot less stressed and their productivity can go up – it makes them a happier employee.”

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