Amsterdam Huddle Update – what a great day of learning, connecting and sharing!

Expat Academy Amsterdam Huddle Update - what a great day of learning, connecting and sharing!

Our second Amsterdam Huddle of the year was kindly hosted by Jai Patel and the wonderfully hospitable Royal Philips team. The day was a mixture of ‘huddle’ time with a variety of table and room discussion blended with a mix of topical presentations.

The day kicked off with a presentation from Vicki Marsh of Equus Software who talked about how to build a business case for a technology solution.  She discussed internal stakeholders including Procurement, Compliance, HR, Finance, I.T. and Executive Leadership and how to focus on key wins for each stakeholder type. She also highlighted the importance of being prepared to answer their varied questions from both a quantitative to qualitative perspective.  Focusing on cost management, compliance and continuous improvement, Vicki shared best-in-class suggestions on how to build a rock-solid business case.

Patrick Kenning of Crown World Mobility led an interactive session looking at how global mobility is changing. In a recent Crown survey 94% of companies currently have or expect to have flexibility built into their GM Policies.  Currently 73% of companies don’t have policies that enable employees to choose benefits although 40% expect this to change in the future.

The most popular flexible policies are:

Flexible allowance/core-flex 25%
Core-flex 24%
Cash/lump-sum 14%
Cafeteria 7%

Anecdotally, there is a sense that the provision of flexible policies will increase with technological improvements and increased demand from millennials and those moving during their early career. Equally, demands from the business for low cost and increased flexibility may contribute to this trend.

Between presentations and networking breaks we spent significant time in table groups discussing a variety of topics. During the day we discussed a whole host of issues including:

  • Technology solutions for expatriate management/administration – some interesting discussions on technology, the pros and cons of implementing a new system and the challenges of embedding a global solution locally.
  • How to use technology to facilitate “the overall employee experience” – it was interesting to hear the variation of experiences in the room. Some are very much at the beginning of their journey whereas others are looking proactively to enhance the employee experience using technology.
  • EU Posted Workers Directive – a general discussion on how companies are managing the directive and which countries are the hot spots.
  • Business travellers – most of the GM professionals attending are not getting involved in business travellers at this stage in Amsterdam.
  • Policy flexibility versus duty of care – an interesting discussion on the drive to offer more flexibility to employees, whilst maintaining a duty of care. Particularly where employees are reimbursed for expenses up to a cap and allowed to use non-approved vendors such as Airbnb.
  • Cross-border commuters – this was relevant to many of the companies attending due to the close international borders. Some good discussion on how companies administer and manage employees working and living across borders.
  • Developmental Policies/Core-Flex Policies – plenty of interesting discussion throughout the day on this increasing genre of policy.

Jai Patel, Head of International Mobility at Royal Philips gave a corporate update where he shared the global mobility challenges of splitting a company.  In 2016, Philips split to become what is today Royal Philips and Signify. Two years down the line, Jai shared both historical and current challenges and how he has managed these. We now have a better appreciation of the Global Mobility complexities of splitting up a company.  Thanks Jai!

Kees de Graaf and Robin Schalekamp from BDO gave an update on Dutch tax and social security with a focus on the changes to the 30% ruling and confirmed that with effect from 1 January 2019 the maximum term for foreign employees will be reduced by 3 years from a maximum of 8 to no more than 5 years. 11,000 foreign employees will face a change from 1 January with a further 6,500 over the course of the year and 74,000 will be affected in total. This led to an interesting debate in the room on whether companies should do anything to compensate those affected by the change.  The majority agreed that it would be wrong to do anything on the basis that you wouldn’t change local employees’ salaries where a change to tax rates occurred, although some questioned whether those benefitting from the 30% ruling have had their salaries low-balled to provide more parity.  The debate will keep rolling….

Andy Hawtin from Altair shared some of the key findings from their recent Global Momentum survey, which measures employee downtime and the loss of work productivity pre-departure and on arrival in the host location.  The key areas where assignees found that this highly impacted their productivity were:

Finding a new home 66%
Sorting immigration 57%

The survey found that the average employee moving internationally loses a minimum of 24.4 days of work productivity. Putting that into a monetary value, a company with 100 moves would lose Euro 3.5 million per year!!

Some of the key findings:

  • Assignees want to be treated like a new hire rather than an existing employee when relocating
  • Proper provision of Destination Services assistance including cultural and language training reduced productivity loss
  • Personal touch is still key
  • Support from fellow assignees is important
  • Cultural integration was more challenging than expected
  • Hiring managers need more education.

The day ended with an Expat Academy update including a demo of the amazing Expat Academy App and confirmation that in 2019 two Amsterdam Huddles will take place in February and September. If you’d like more information on the app or would be interested in attending the next event, please contact bookings@expat-academy.com

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