Revisiting Core/Flex

The Demand for Greater Flexibility

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About a year ago, we reported over a third of companies we surveyed were considering implementing some type of core/flex mobility policy. Since then, Global Mobility professionals have had to deal with many COVID-related challenges around assignments and physical relocations, as well as counsel and support their organizations regarding new types of global work patterns such as virtual assignments and remote work.

Last year’s modest goals of increased flexibility have become a defining trend for 2021. Our Mobility Outlook Survey confirms about two thirds of responding organizations expect the business demand for greater flexibility will continue to increase, and over half expect to address this demand by “building in” flexibility via policy tiers or core/flex approaches. It’s therefore a good time to refresh our understanding of some of the key characteristics of core/flex programs!

How does a core/flex policy work?

The basic idea is that some mobility elements are designated as “core” (mandatory provisions for all moves) and the business is given the ability to “flex” the rest. The approach is appealing because it gives businesses the ability to leverage mobile talent at a cost they can afford, as well as the ability to structure mobility packages that align with individual employee needs.

Can you define how flexibility is structured?

Businesses can be given the choice to add or delete entitlements, or adjust them up or down – with or without minimum or maximum limits. Adjustment options may also vary by entitlement. The key objective is to give the business flexibility, but with enough structure that flexible choice options can be integrated into assignment management and cost estimation technologies.

Which elements tend to be flexed?

Compliance elements such as immigration, taxation, and security/duty of care are typically defined as core. Some companies designate additional elements as core provisions, including elements such as temporary living, relocation, home leave, dependent education, COLA, host housing, and more.


Decisions about which entitlements should fall into your organization’s core versus flex bucket, and how flexibility itself should be structured, should be made thoughtfully and weighed against competitive practice, your organization’s philosophy about employee support, availability of technology and other resources, and your company’s unique mobility needs and goals.

How can mobility position itself for success with a core/flex program?

In addition to defining competitive levels for each flexible element and establishing limits where necessary, mobility should proactively educate the business to help promote good choices for both the business and organization. The right technology and decision support tools can help mobility advise and guide their business customer.

For mobility professionals seeking to enhance their program’s flexibility, the time is right. Businesses are seeking cost predictability, and organizations are getting serious about aligning their mobility programs with talent goals. Mobility’s high visibility over the last year has resulted in new appreciation of its broad expertise and advisory capabilities – both essential to an effective core/flex program.

If greater flexibility is a 2021 goal, we’d be happy to schedule a complementary discussion with you to help you assess whether core/flex might be a good fit for your organization. Contact Inez Nomidis, director of advisory services, AIRINC to schedule a meeting.

Michelle Curran

Americas Marketing Manager, AIRINC

Marketing manager posting global mobility content authored by experienced industry experts at AIRINC.