Top Tips For Managing Short-term Assignments

The Relocation ConsultancyWhilst the ‘traditional relocation’ will always have an important role in helping companies grow their business and strengthen talent, interest in ‘alternative policies’ continues to increase.

During the last few years there has been a significant increase in the number of employees being sent on short-term international assignments, typically lasting from 3-12 months. Management of these types of assignments has become a challenge for many companies, as different departments and business units frequently initiate them.

The majority of short-term assignments and commuter assignments are still driven by project-based requirements, and they are also increasingly used for leadership development/training and to manage costs/flexibility. The majority of employees on short-term assignments do not bring their families and assistance is generally provided with housing and living costs in the location where they are assigned.

Some of the key areas to consider when arranging short-term assignments include:

  1. Financial incentives for employees e.g. hardship premiums, paying for a certain number of trips home, daily expenses, accommodation costs, etc.
  2. Who administers assignmentsIt can be beneficial (for the company and assignees alike) to select a single point of internal administration, rather than dealing with each project on an ad hoc basis, and administering it via the assignee’s own department. By doing so, costs can be managed more effectively, consistency can be achieved in terms of policy implementation, and, beneficial relationships can be created externally (e.g. with relocation consultants) to support the entire process.
  3. Breadth of the services provided to assignees. Whilst this will differ depending on the individual’s circumstances, all of the following should still be considered in regards to short-term assignments:

i. area orientations (provide a context for the assignee’s living arrangements, informing about shopping, medical facilities, transportation links, etc. – lack of any organised orientation assistance can lead to morale and productivity problems)

ii. accommodation arrangements (it can be far safer and more efficient to have housing arranged by a reputable relocation company than to give employees a lump sum allowance and have them find their own accommodation)

iii. household goods management (air shipment, storage, etc.)

iv. insurance cover (for travel and personal property, as well as health insurance)

v. cultural/language training

vi. visa and immigration coordination

vii. tax compliance advice (tax regulations for short-term assignees vary by country and need to be carefully monitored)

viii. security briefings (especially when employees are sent to locations where there is a high level of crime or political unrest)

ix. government compliance (local permits, police registration, etc.)

4. Time. Remember that short-term assignments require almost as much work as long-term assignments, especially up front in order to get employees settled in quickly, safely and efficiently.

The Relocation Consultancy have a range of services to help with short-term assignments:

  1. ‘Extended Business Trip’ – sourcing and booking short stay, temporary accommodation. This booking service is designed to save the company time and money. Serviced accommodation can be a less expensive alternative to hotel stays for longer business trips. Additional benefits include reduced expense claims in terms of living costs and hotel services, a more homely and spacious environment, and the ability of securing accommodation in a new destination at short notice, with flexible terms.
  2. ‘Short Projects’ – support for assignments of 0-6 months (most suitable for single person or couple). Our ‘Short Projects’ service aims to support assignees visiting the UK for short-notice and ad hoc projects, where the length of stay is not substantial enough to warrant arranging a formal tenancy. As well as covering the booking of temporary accommodation, this service includes an area tour, to help the assignee get to know their local area as quickly as possible.
  3. ‘Commuter Assignment’ – support for assignments of 6 months to 1 year (most suitable for single person or couple). Our ‘Commuter Assignment’ service aims to reduce stress for the assignee, by helping them to efficiently secure a comfortable home whilst staying on a longer, but more transient, short-term assignment in the UK. This fully inclusive service covers all the legal aspects of securing, monitoring and terminating a shorter rental lease, so the assignee can fully concentrate on their new role. Intensive ‘Business English’ and/or ‘Doing Business In The UK’ courses can also be arranged if required, as can furniture rentals, housekeeping and/or gardening services.
  4. ‘Corporate Housing’ (most suitable for house shares or rotational occupiers, for tenancies of 6 months plus). If a company needs to send a group of individuals to the UK and wishes to secure a property for six months or more, we can arrange for suitable rental housing for them to share. Whilst this can help to substantially reduce costs for the company, it has added benefits, such as providing companionship to employees who are being separated from their friends and family, and also giving them the opportunity of living in a higher specification home than their budget might otherwise have allowed. This service is particularly recommended for younger and more junior members of staff, who are likely to be more amenable to the opportunity of sharing. Alternately, if a company has individuals visiting the same location regularly, we can locate and secure a suitable property for the company to rent, in order that their employees can stay there on a rotational basis. This can be an extremely cost effective way of bringing key staff into projects at the specific time they are required.

Additional support, such as ongoing property maintenance, and arranging furniture rental, housekeeping and gardening services can also be included within our support packages.

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support assignees visiting the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for your company, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email Alternately, you can find out more about our services at