by Gina Tonic
Gosh, it was rather a rollercoaster of a week with some emotional highs and lows. Sadly, the week started with a low. The kinda low that makes you drop your ‘To Do’ list to do all you can to help and, once it’s all over, makes you re-evaluate your current perspective and focus on life.
I took a call from one of our HRBPs the previous week asking what we could do to support the parents of an employee who sadly passed away. This wasn’t one of our assignees but just one of the many European nationals we have working in London. These calls can be tough at the best of times, but this was a young French woman in the prime of life sharing a flat with some colleagues. I confess that I was quite moved by the conversation. It transpired that the employee’s parents were travelling across to the UK at the weekend and wanted to sort out their daughters’ things to be shipped back to France. They had to get everything out of the flat within a week. To add to the challenge neither of them really spoke any English.
Handle with care
It’s times like these when you really lean heavily on your vendors and the partnership is truly tested. I reached out to our relocation management company (RMC) to see what they could do to help. In tough situations like this it never ceases to amaze me how our vendors step up and go above and beyond the service levels painstakingly laid out by procurement following an RFP. After explaining my issue, they got straight on it and set out a plan of action. They flew their office manager over from France on the Sunday. She then attended the survey with the family on Monday and stayed to oversee the pack the following day. She spent so much time with the parents over those two days, comforting them, listening to their stories about their daughter and making sure that the crew handled everything with care.
Green fingered support
Grief is a strange thing. The parents were particularly concerned about their daughter’s plants. Our provider took the plants back to their warehouse, put them in a place with plenty of light and watered them. They even sent a photo of one of their employees watering the plants back to the parents before they were eventually returned to France. The office manager from France gave the parents her phone number and spoke with them regularly over the following week. I was touched by the compassion shown. The invoice for the shipment came through and I noticed there was nothing on there for the travel and accommodation costs for the French office manager. It goes to show despite the fact we all strive to standardise processes and service levels to minimise cost and maximise efficiency there is always the option to insert the human element and do the right thing because you care and you can.
A smile at the end of the week
Fortunately, my week wasn’t entirely filled with sadness. Today I received an email from one of our more humorous assignees who wanted to provide feedback on the number of times he has been asked for feedback on his move experience. “You guys send way too many surveys” he wrote, “Please focus on doing what you do best. Put it this way: imagine you’re on a date with an amazing person… but they ask you to fill out a survey every 7 minutes. Do you go on a second date? Nope.” He may have a point. I’m glad Mr Tonic never took that approach!