Time to redirect all ‘Gucci Money’ toward partner support

Earlier this year, a survey on Duty of Care, executed by The RES Forum, revealed that nearly a third (30%) of multinationals continue to provide ‘discretionary cash allowances’ for partners. But has Covid-19 exposed the shortcomings of ‘Gucci money’ for all to see?

Catalyst for change

In my humble opinion, the global pandemic has clearly underlined the advantages of a solid support programme. That’s not a hunch (or my biased opinion). Our most recent survey on the impact of Covid-19, revealed widespread doubts in the minds of expat partners.

Recent survey

Of all participants, 18% were preparing for their first assignment and half of these first-time movers had doubts due to the pandemic. Nearly a third (32%) of all participating partners who had already moved expressed doubts about their current posting. Partners on their second assignment expressed the most doubts about their current posting (38%). Interestingly 45% of expat partners under 35 years of age expressed doubts, significantly higher than the other age groups.

Guidance, not cash, the key

In these times of ‘uncertainty’, it seems clear that support programmes could be critical, not only for retaining expat families on assignment, but also encouraging families to relocate or embark on their first assignment. In short, expat partners, and families still at home, have more questions than ever before. That means they need reassurances and guidance, not a cash handout.

A long crusade

Although I have long been on a crusade to highlight the shortcomings of ‘Gucci money’, of course, I do understand why cash allowances have been the go-to solution for many multinationals for many years. It’s a one-size-fits-all and hassle-free approach. Everyone is treated the same. All costs are fixed. Capable partners get to establish and pursue their own path.

Evidence based approach

But over the last 27 years, at Global Connection, we have seen how a ‘cash them up and set them free’ approach to a partner support programme does not work for everyone. By contrast, surveys have shown that the uptake of a broad, well-managed spousal support programme helps partners to more effectively identify their goals and set them on the right path. In light of Covid-19 and it’s continuing impacts, more multinationals might now come around to seeing the logic of redirecting funds toward partner support programmes that can boost Global Mobility.

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