Why EQ is so important today

Do you feel like the world is in flux? Between the pandemic, social injustice, global human rights, and environmental and climate-related issues, we all have much to consider.  In pre-pandemic offices, seeing a colleague face to face and noting their body language would tell us a lot about how they were feeling.  Working remotely, we all must try a little harder. That’s why Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is even more important than ever. EQ focuses on understanding our emotions and the emotions of those around us and dealing with them in the best way possible.

How can we evolve in this changing work environment to best support our mobile workforce?  The key is employee engagement. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from the relocation world.  Those involved in employee relocation experiences must have a high EQ given the challenges of a move. From household goods shipments and real estate transactions to immigration approval and tax compliance issues, all must be handled with a level of sensitivity.

Successful mobility programs utilize these EQ traits:

  • Empathy and active listening
  • Emotional maturity
  • Awareness and inclusion
  • Honesty and humility
  • Anticipation and intuition

With experience and communication, these traits can be learned.

High EQ mobility professionals know it’s important to work with service providers who share the same philosophy.  Some things to consider:

  • Do they communicate new developments, identify challenges, and solve problems in a timely manner?
  • Are they flexible and open to a mobile employee suggestions, requests, concerns, and feedback?
  • Can they express empathy, so mobile employees know that they are emotionally and logistically supported?
  • Will they show compassion in the face of extreme stress during relocation?

By virtue of the job, Global Mobility teams already respond to mobile employees with the empathy and support that is necessary for a successful relocation. Continuing to champion the same EQ traits in dealing with remote and mobile employees will help HR professionals weather the current state of global business, bringing much success to relocation programs in the future.

Written by Cathy Heyne, GMS-T

Traveling with a Disability

While lots of us were locked in place over the past 18 months, a great many people found themselves changing locations. They took advantage of the freedom to work from anywhere. Or they are now choosing among the many employment opportunities, trying something – or someplace – new.

Deciding to move, or merely travel, involves more implications when you or a family member has a disability. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources. For example:

ETIAS: Step-by-Step Guide to Traveling with a Disability
European Travel Information and Authorisation System resource for Schengen countries

International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT): Traveling with Accessibility Needs

Mobility International USA: Advancing disability rights

United Nations: Disability Laws by Country

Wheelchair Travel: Resources and Destination-specific

In addition, consult agencies and organizations that provide guidance on pertinent issues for you, including:

– Mobility and transportation accessibility at airports, on trains, city sidewalks, and public spaces.

– Regulations for travel with prescriptions or medical equipment.

– Physicians or treatment facilities on route or at your final location.

– Travel and quarantine requirements for service dogs or emotional support animals.

– Local availability of therapies and trained support professionals.

– Advice/networks to assist in preparing for and meeting the person’s physical or emotional/behavioral needs in transit and at the destination.

Find these resources, and others, in Living Abroad’s International Relocation Center in our ‘Healthy & Safety’ section under Best of the Web.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group

How to be proactive

New jobs, new schools, new activities, new weather seasons…for many households around the globe, this time of year marks beginnings. As a reminder, here are a few basic things you can do now, and should do at least annually:

  • Evaluate your insurance coverage. This can include home insurance, health insurance, and supplemental coverage depending upon your locale, assets, and medical history. Is it still adequate? Is your contact information for your insurance provider up to date?
  • Scrutinize emergency numbers. Make sure local emergency numbers are posted near landlines and saved as mobile contacts. Especially if you don’t have a landline, make sure to keep a physical copy of your key contact names and telephone numbers in the event of a power outage.
  • Inventory supplies.  Look through any supplies that you keep in the event of power outages or natural disasters. Are medical and food items still safe to use? Is your water supply adequate? Do batteries need to be replaced? Do additional items, such as a supply of masks or new medications, need to be added?
  • Review paperwork.  Take a look around for paperwork. Are important documents, such as passports, medical records, and legal documents, stored in their designated places?
  • Check online, comprehensively. Are your passwords truly secure? Have you received and personally authorized all credit cards, debit cards, and ATM cards? Do you know all the steps to take if you must report identity fraud or theft?
  • Double check emergency plan.  Review your family emergency plan. Does it need to be adjusted or updated?
  • Renew or update registry.  If applicable, renew or update your registry with your country’s consulate. This allows the staff to inform and assist you and your family in the event of emergency situations.

Quick and simple review of your plans and provisions can make a real difference, especially when it’s time to master whatever the rest of the year brings!

Written by Erin Fitzgerald, GMS, Content Manager

The Popularity of Lump Sums

Quickly becoming one of the most popular relocation policies, the lump sum option is a one-time, fixed payment provided by the employer to an employee to cover all relocation costs. While these programs became popular with U.S. domestic relocations over the past decade, companies are increasingly using lump sums for international relocations, which can be more complex. A large part of this recent growth is due to its popularity among younger employees, who are the rising majority of the globally mobile.

What are the benefits of a lump sum relocation program?

​​​1. Save money – Lump sum programs can save a company money in the short-term.  This can make it easier for businesses to control the costs. Lump sums also offer fewer fixed benefits, keeping costs down. However, this could also mean that destination services, home-finding, settling-in services, cultural training, and school-search may not be company-required support, risking a failed assignment and poor ROI for the business unit.

2. Easy administration – Global mobility teams have less of a strain handling the relocation in-house since they would not be managing the entire process.  It also reduces the record-keeping and expense tracking burden on the employer.  Compared to a supported relocation, where the global mobility team guides the employee through every step of the process, lump sum relocations also save the company time.

3. Employee flexibility – Employees may choose how they spend their relocation money in ways that best suit their situation. The catch is that employers don’t mandate additional support, leaving employees with little relocation experience making the wrong choices, and who may find themselves short on cash. Leaving the employee to handle multiple aspects of their own relocation can mean they divert time they could be applying to their job. The result could be another reason for an unhappy transferring employee or boss.

4. Cost transparency – The lump sum payment makes it easy to keep track of relocation costs. However, unless you keep track of how the employee spends their money, you won’t have the opportunity to fine-tune your lump sums program or offer the employee some additional support. The more successful relocation programs track how employees spend their lump sum through digital tools.

Other factors to consider:  Is this the first time the employee has moved?  Even if the employee has moved before, what are the challenges associated with the new host location?  Ultimately, the business units should always consider the balance between the time and stress incurred by the employee during a self-managed move versus a corporate-managed relocation.

How can Living Abroad help support your lump sum employees?  Through an unlimited company subscription to the International Relocation Center, all employees have access to over 235+ destinations, all curated and vettedfrom a business perspectiveHundreds of resources are available giving relocating employees the support they need for success.  Subscribing to the destinations that best fit your relocation program and budget is simple and easy.

Please contact us to see how!

Reconciling Elder Care and Travel

Human beings are living longer, and at the same time we have become a more globally mobile society. Though the pandemic has slowed relocations, work-from-home options have opened up travel opportunities. What happens when a decision to move affects the care of an older family member?Whether you are caring for a parent in your home or are only peripherally involved, a move is going to disrupt your family’s routine. Good planning can mitigate that upheaval. Elder care takes different shapes in different cultures. Government services vary, too. Senior support is robust in some areas and thin in others. Some questions to ask:

  • How should I arrange for/continue care?
  • What to do in an emergency?
  • What if my parent declines into a worsened condition?
  • What’s the best way to stay informed about my parent’s health status?
  • Is he/she fit enough to make the move with us?

Along with your parent, talk directly to the doctor about their condition and potential future needs. This can help you decide on levels of care, and to determine whether it’s possible for your parent(s) to move with you.

If you do consider moving abroad with them, investigate the host country’s entry requirements. When looking for a home, consider the physical layout and space options in available accommodations.

Look into support for seniors at your destination — in physical environment, medical access, and recreational opportunities, as well as cultural norms that can affect quality of life. Check into any required equipment like oxygen tanks or medications that may need regular replenishing, and special treatments like dialysis or chemotherapy.

For a parent staying in the home country, siblings should discuss shifting responsibilities in the traveler’s absence. Talk to your parent(s) about their needs, wishes, and practicalities like paperwork. Wills, power of attorney, trusts, and health care proxies should be in place and updated if the situation warrants.

If your parent will need to change their current residential status, research and visit facilities, or line up home health care that will meet their needs. Make a list of people who will directly manage your parent’s care, and support people who will be in regular contact with her/him. Keep contact information for these people, along with doctors, lawyers, and pharmacies. Checklists and guidance are very useful in this process and are available from organizations like AARP.

Plan to take part in health professional meetings by phone. Case managers and staff can share status updates on your parent’s condition, answer your questions, and provide opportunities to share your concerns or wishes going forward.

With all the serious logistics on everyone’s minds, it’s easy to forget that a simple bouquet of flowers, plant, or their favorite edible treat delivered to the parent can bring cheer and raise spirits. Some thought and planning can ease the transition for everyone involved.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group

Let the Games Begin

After a one-year delay due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the 2020 Summer Olympic Games have begun in Tokyo, Japan! Just over 11,000 athletes from 205 countries are converging upon the city to compete in 33 different sports, with millions of viewers around the globe.

While live spectator attendance and travel to Japan have been extremely limited, the Games always generate a lot of interest in their hosts, and the 2020 Summer Games are no exception. Living Abroad’s International Relocation Center (IRC) provides a wealth of information about Tokyo, as well as Japan overall.  Here’s a three minute video introduction to the country — it’s one of many you’ll find in our reports:

Living Abroad’s IRC reports will also have you covered for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China, the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, France, the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, USA, and the 2032 Summer Olympic Games in Brisbane, Australia. (The host city for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games will be announced in Mumbai, India in 2023.)
Written by Erin Fitzgerald, GMS, Content Manager

The 3 Pillars

The importance of sustainability

Today’s business world demands social, environmental, economic sustainability.  These three are often call the main pillars of sustainability, corresponding to people, planet, and profits. Business leaders realize that creating long-term value will foster company longevity. There are many benefits to being a sustainable company: adding brand value, attracting new talent, creating new opportunities, increasing efficiency, and meeting customer demands.

While we seek sustainability via many solutions, depending on a company’s focus, here are a few useful actions companies can take now:

  1. Align values. Businesses should focus on the most important sustainability issues which align with company strategy and core values.
  2. Do research. Read articles about sustainability, join industry groups, attend conferences, and hone in on the sustainability initiatives that your company can support.
  3. Focus on compliance. Adopt regulations on waste management, pollution, and energy efficiency.  Include labor and human rights responsibilities.
  4. Contribute to community. Contribute to the community by partnering with other businesses, local governments, customers, and your employees to reach your sustainability goals.
  5. Foster transparency. Foster an open environment in the company as well as within the community through candid communication.
  6. Build diverse leadership. Focus on diversity and gender equality in building your leadership team, ensuring that your company will be sustainable into the future.
  7. Encourage collaboration. Start with having a conversation with your supply chain.  Ensure that they have their own sustainability goals that are in alignment with your sustainability and business goals.
  8. Establish long-term goals. This helps to stay on track.  Make sure these goals are thoughtfully researched and achievable.
  9. Remain accountable. Have a strong commitment to sustainability and continue to find ways to decrease your footprint.

It’s easy to understand why a focus on sustainability has become mainstream, with over 90% of CEOs believing that sustainability is imperative for business success.  Initiatives underway include creating sustainable products and services, carving out a position for a chief sustainability officer, and preparing sustainability reports.

Many companies have already started by recycling waste, replacing bottled water with filtered tap water, and taking advantage of natural light in the office.  At Living Abroad, our carbon footprint is very small.  For the most part, we all work from home and did so, even before the pandemic.  Since all our services are online, trees are spared as no paper products are needed.  Our content can be customized and saved as a PDF to be read later on any devices, eliminating the need to print the information.

The reality is that we all need to do our part.  What are you doing?


It’s not too early to think about school

I’d like to begin this piece with a shout-out to all educators. My husband was a math teacher for 35 years before moving into alumni relations this year. Lots of our friends and many of our neighbors are teachers. So even though our children are grown and we personally missed the challenge of remote learning during a pandemic, we witnessed the astounding fortitude, creativity, and flexibility shown by people with students in their care.

According to the World Economic Forum, 1.2 billion children in 186 countries had to leave their classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. We shifted, adjusted, and kept adapting as things changed. For many, the 2020-21 school year ended with deep breaths of relief as vaccines made it possible for schools to reopen.

While it may seem like we just finished the school year, the 2021-22 academic year is only weeks away. Depending on where you live, your children may already be in school.

Here are few ways you can prepare for the start of school:

– Continue to stay connected to your school district or private school communication channels. Know what they plan to require, what might change from last year, and what might stay the same. Hours might vary, or schedules may be staggered to allow for more space between students of different grades. Will students still need masks, and will there be a hybrid option?

– Stay informed about the COVID situation in your region, or anywhere you might have to travel to attend school — college campuses in another state or country, for example. Though this can change rapidly, especially with the Delta variant spreading. Country entry regulations are fluid. Monitor trusted sources so you are aware of changes discussed or if adjustments become necessary.

– Take care of your general health, so that you and your children are in the best possible condition when returning to more crowded buildings and activities.

-Take stock of tech and other materials that will maximize the learning experience – whatever it may be in the fall. Take the time now to set up a place to study and focus, for general work done at home but also in the event that in-person attendance is scaled back for some period of time.

– Vaccination requirements are still unknown in many schools. Will they be required of eligible students? Arrange now to obtain the vaccine or find out how to proceed with school preparations if you plan to forgo it.

– Learn which extracurricular activities might resume, and how. If your child played a sport or an instrument – and teams or bands were cancelled last year – some conditioning and practice might be useful this summer before resuming the activity.

– Reach out to friends and family and plan any visits that are feasible while school is out of session.  Not only can this bring isolated family members closer, it immerses your children in the family experiences of which they were deprived.  The recognition, connections, and love among family members are important for personal development and emotional grounding.

– Do something completely freeing and enjoyable! After enduring so much stress and change, treat yourself to a healthy break and do something that lifts your spirits.

The good news is that we had to adapt in so many ways last year, we already have many fire-tested contingency plans available to us, and plenty of materials and know-how when it comes to physical distancing and hygiene. Contrary to March 2020 when we were plunged into a frightening, unknown situation, we now have knowledge and experience with practical measures that can help us in the future.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group