Genie Martens – Senior Director of Client Engagement at AIRINC
From providing mobility research data to cost estimation tools, AIRINC assists global mobility and HR professionals in managing assignees. Since its establishment in 1954, AIRINC has expanded to provide advisory on topics such as compensation packages, talent strategies and mobility programmes.
In an interview with ExpatFinder below, Senior Director of Client Engagement, Ms. Genie Martens discussed the top mobility concerns plaguing the industry at present, the pros and cons of lump sum policies, and AIRINC’s unique value proposition.
Q: Tell us about your background. What brought you to AIRINC?
A: My background is in economics and business, so the initial attraction was the appealing combination of those two disciplines applied in a very international context. I find it endlessly fascinating to see how changes in the worldwide economy influence how multinational firms deploy their global talent.
Q: What kinds of international mobility data does AIRINC provide?
A: We’ve been collecting and analysing our own mobility data for well over sixty years, and are adding new data services all the time to meet new client needs stemming from rapid developments in mobility. We provide data support for any type of mobility ranging from business travellers to temporary short and long-term assignees, to localisations and cross-border hires.
We also incorporate our data in a full range of online tools to help mobility professionals assess feasibility and costs of different types of mobility, including assignment cost estimators and salary evaluators for permanent moves.
Q: How does the data help organisations and mobility executives?
A: Consider the alternative! Without an objective source of high quality, globally consistent and defensible data, mobility practitioners would spend their time negotiating with employees and cobbling together information from multiple sources that may be far off the mark in terms of being appropriate for mobile employees.
In some ways, the abundance of free data on the internet makes life much more difficult for the mobility practitioner, because although it’s easy to access, it’s impossible to verify accuracy, timeliness, and objectivity. Our clients rely on our data because there’s quality control at every point in the structured process, from collecting the data using our own full-time staff to analysing and comparing the data for hundreds of locations on a quarterly basis. That process also allows us to configure the data to meet specific client needs, ensure consistent solutions on a worldwide basis, and provide that all-important support.
When the data supporting compensation packages for mobile employees is equitable, up-to-date and fit for purpose, mobility executives can confidently place their focus on their main goal: ensuring their organisations’ mobility goals are met.
Q: What are the common issues and pain points AIRINC’s Advisory Services team has heard from its clients?
A: Over half of the multinational firms that responded to our Mobility Outlook Survey this year indicated that their top concern is aligning mobility with business and talent goals. Although many mobility departments report that they are successful at getting employees to go on assignments and handle the operational aspects of mobility well, they recognise that in order to stay relevant they must be less reactive and more strategic, with mobility program design that meets both current and anticipated business needs. Depending on the organisation, this may involve redesign of an existing policy suite, purposeful assignment planning, advice and guidance for the business, and even talent and workforce planning at the corporate level.
The common thread is that mobility is challenged to evolve into a function that operates on business principles. Achieving this ideal state may require modest to far-reaching changes in policy, program and organisation, often against a backdrop of cost reduction pressures! Our Advisory team has helped many clients through this process using a collaborative, guided approach that simplifies and clarifies the change options and ensures a tailored mobility solution.
Q: At a time when more and more companies are providing lump sum policies for assignees, how can AIRINC help them manage those specific populations?
A: Lump sum approaches can save on administration and assignees may appreciate the choices they afford. Although they are not for every organisation or every mobility element, they can be used very effectively for some flexible assignment benefits and elements such as relocation and home leave.
Our Advisory team has assisted many clients with evaluating and selecting lump sum approaches to meet business and employee needs for greater flexibility; this may involve what-if analysis of cost and tax impacts as well as impacts on administration and employee support. We also offer data services to support reasonable and appropriate lump sum budgets, including our airfare database for relocation and home leave based on client policy, and custom lump sum calculators which allow clients to interactively select airfare, accommodation, transport and meals for house-hunting trips, relocation and temporary living.
These budgets based on current data and defined methodologies provide some distinct advantages over the broad-brush approach of a universal flat payment or percent of salary. First, they help clients avoid overspending or providing insufficient support by varying by family size and assignment location. Secondly, they provide a simple way to adjust budgets over time to recognise changing costs.
Q: Beyond providing information, what value-added services does AIRINC provide?
A: Expertise and support! Every member of our firm is uniquely focused on workforce globalisation, and there’s no other firm with as many decades of experience helping hundreds of global organisations resolve their global mobility challenges.
We continue to innovate to stay ahead of rapid growth in cross-border mobility, and our combination of advice, data and technology provide us with the ability to tailor solutions to any client’s needs, whether your mobile workforce is comprised of a few or thousands of employees.
Last but not least, I believe one of the greatest things about AIRINC is the very high value we place on client support and personal service. I love that our clients know that they can always pick up the phone or email someone that not only knows all about their mobility program and specific mobility challenges, but understands the competitive context and company culture. I think that’s a very special feature of our firm and one that is deeply appreciated by our clients.