At a recent presentation about core-flex policies by a leading RMC, I learned that some view spousal support as an optional add-on that is deemed to be the equivalent of a two-week car rental.
No joke at all
I was in the audience and couldn’t believe what I’d heard! I felt compelled to ask: “So, if I understand correctly, the expat can choose between two weeks extra car rental or help his/her partner find their feet for the coming years?” My incredulous remark received plenty of laughs, which I hope drew attention to how this is, in my opinion, an inadvisable approach.
Growing pains of flexibility
I sincerely hope that regarding spousal support as a flex option is only a temporary mindset, a symptom of an industry’s ‘growing pains’. Although I realise the expat partner of today is super computer savvy, and they can find a lot of information online, we know from experience they can struggle to hit upon the right solution to solve issues or take the first step in finding a fulfilling occupation.
Still being undervalued
Every partner, whether they are leaving behind a job or not, will have to find their feet abroad. It’s now over 15 years ago that Brookfield noted it was puzzling that spousal support, a topic that everyone agrees is of major importance, is not addressed. To my mind, the above anecdote highlights it is still not being properly and effectively addressed by everyone. Certainly our advice, based on over 25 years of experience, is partner support can make a vital contribution to a successful assignment. Do not undervalue it.
With employee experience being a new buzz word, I’d like to introduce ‘the partner experience’ into the conversation. If you decide not to offer partner support as a core benefit, you might end up with a negative partner experience. That won’t just have a significant impact on the success of that specific assignment in the short term but also the partner’s attitude to long-term mobility. That’s something which should be valued greatly.