A new era for Duty of Care – who is the focus?

Lately, for obvious reasons, I have been attending more virtual meetings than normal and pleased to hear so many people acknowledge the efficiency of the digital tools. But I was even happier to note that ‘Duty of Care’ was deemed equally important as ‘Employee Experience’ in discussions, also due to the impact of Covid-19.

Duty of care survey

Unfortunately, duty of care discussions are usually centred on the expat employee. That’s why I was grateful that The RES Forum invited us to get involved in their Duty of Care survey earlier this year. Naturally, our focus was on care for the spouse. We also contributed our thoughts on the survey findings in the report, which allowed us to express our concern about the lack of attention spousal support receives.

Future concerns

In the midst of the lockdown, 81% of HR/GM professionals attending a RES Forum Live session believed ‘Duty of Care’ would be the most important concern for prospective assignees in the next 12–18 months. A positive sign, however, ‘Duty of Care’ was an umbrella term for ‘health’, ‘well-being’ and ‘employee protection programs’ as well as ‘family considerations’.

Impact of evacuation / quarantine

Meanwhile, we have been in direct contact with expat partners (some evacuated, some quarantined in their host country, others waiting to depart). While before, the focus was mainly on cultural coaching, career coaching, (voluntary) job search, business setup coaching and education advice, we now see a rise in requests for life coaching.

Change of attitude

This shift in support requests is not a surprise to us: some partners, perhaps for the first time in their lives, are currently unsure about achieving their life goals. How might this affect in future decisions to move abroad / relocate? Considering the degree of uncertainty in the air, we believe, more than ever, that spousal support can play a decisive role in aiding Global Mobility.

Tiny element with a huge impact

Last but not least, I was recently told we shouldn’t forget that ‘spousal support is only a tiny element in the policy’. Rest assured, I understand from a budgetary perspective, this might appear to be the case. But, citing our own survey ‘Impact of partner support on the success of the assignment’, my take is: Well, what could be better than a small investment that makes a significant and positive impact?

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