Global Mobility Managers and Talent Acquisition teams often send a message to the prospective employee when assigning a relocation program. A message about what is valued internally is also conveyed, and it can take some time before it’s understood. 


Let me explain.


Many recruiters make a difference between a talent that is very important to the business and offer customized grand relocation program as part of the persuasion to get a top candidate to sign on. 


While more generic positions or junior roles may have other components in their package to entice them to move to Sweden. The salary may be more interesting than the many perks provided by the Swedish Welfare state such as inexpensive schooling. Getting a generous relocation program, may at least before the move, play a lesser role when it comes to signing on for a new position. 


At other times moving employees can have other drivers than business. The first to notice is often the relocation company. Sometimes an employee isn’t a fit in their current position or office and is given a second chance in a new country. The move may not be entirely voluntary and the receiving team may not be aware of the underlying factors. This practice is most often seen with large corporations. Relocation companies have come across these assignments many times and they call it a DOWNGRADE. 


A downgrade is never publicly communicated so it may take some time to understand that we need extra care here. 


So what is a DOWNGRADE?

A person that is moved by the company but the transfer isn’t business driven. It’s used when it’s impossible or too costly to fire a person, but it will send a strong message to the individual. It’s the corporate version of sending someone to Siberia. 


Why do companies need to downgrade?

A business developer that hasn’t met sales targets.

A sexual harassment case that has been muted publicly but can’t be silenced internally, and the company needs to move the problem elsewhere.

A difficult person that gets a transfer to get a second chance.


How do you spot a Downgrade?

The move isn’t following the school year for a family

The move is done without a sufficient budget or support

Sometimes the assignee doesn’t realize it’s a downgrade and expects more support than is provided while HR is holding back

Sometimes the downgrade is using the relocation process to negotiate a severance package and will make life very difficult for the relocation company, especially around housing

The role and the experience doesn’t align with a normal career ladder


These downgrades shouldn’t be mixed up with the Dreamers. People that are looking for the Swedish dream and have a self initiated move that isn’t based on a great deal of insights can also happen off season. 


And then we have the UPGRADES

Joe will go! 

Some industries send staff, usually men, to godforsaken places where the job needs to get done, but the destination may not be awesome. Oftentimes they go without their families, due to a lack of schools and decent living conditions. This opens up for the Upgrades. It’s common enough that the families stay at home, or live in the closest city possible and lonely men find local, young partners. 


How are Upgrade situations handled? 

The former wife is taken care of elegantly, with respect and care all the way home. All expenses paid. The “Joe will go” is important enough to the company and warrant such costs. The spouses have often dedicated a great number of years to supporting the employee and are in turn supported all the way home. 


An Upgrade can also be a promotion! 

Young people that a company wants to train for the future often get that opportunity in a small country (like Sweden) where they can be a big fish in a small pond. Essentially, get to do things in a smaller market where a possible failure isn’t too costly. 


How do you spot an Upgrade?

The assignee is provided a relocation program that is bigger than the role would normally warrant. A signal from the company that we believe in you and we will do anything we can to make this successful. 

An upgrade is usually enthusiastic, a problem solver and grateful. On our website we have a testimonial from an upgrade that wrote “YAY, I did a little dance in my new apartment! I’m so happy - Thank You!


Different ways Companies use their Mobility Program to express culture


Equality - all employees, regardless of rank, family size or seniority gets a generous program

Large Swedish companies have done this for decades. It’s easy to administer and it’s a no questions asked policy, no comparison, no negotiation around the relocation program. Everyone is a valued employee is the message they want to express. 


Rank - depending on seniority, rank and importance to the company a program will be customized to suit all the above plus family size. 

A message is sent that it pays to work hard and become a key player in this company. 


Individuality - A Lump Sum is given towards relocation expenses. Service providers have been vetted and the relocation allowance can be used towards getting assistance with household goods move, tax advice, relocation & home finding services. 

The message is that you are accountable for your own relocation success and can pick what is most important to you. Typically companies that apply this model will not include immigration and compliance into the lump sum model since they are responsible to follow the law.


Self initiated moves vs Corporate driven moves - some companies provide different programs depending on who is the initiator. Some believe self initiated moves are more successful and the person moving is further motivated and will give a bigger program to  boost the relocation. Others believe that if you want to move here, you can assume the cost and work to do so. 

Corporate driven moves - often have the relocation program scope as part of the motivating factor to get the employee to accept the transfer. 

The message depends on the view the company has on the individual’s motivation.  

Do you know what best expresses your corporate culture and values? 

What side effects will your choice mean for the HR team? 


Nimmersion has worked with all models for many years and can help you navigate around these choices. Each relocation program can correspond to the values of our clients organizations whether it be self-serve or handhloding all the way.