In October, CEO of Paragon, Joseph Morabito announced a new incentive to encourage employees to volunteer their time to charitable organizations. Through the Paragon Foundation, Paragon has committed to donate $5 for every hour of volunteer work done by the employees. Although monetary giving is highly effective in providing for the needy and less fortunate, giving the gift of time can be equally effective and even more rewarding.
“There is tremendous satisfaction gained by helping someone,” says, Darlene Bustamante, Charity Administrator for The Paragon Foundation. “The smallest of tasks can help change a person’s perspective on life. Recently I volunteered alongside another employee, Nikki Tran, and had the opportunity of serving a Thanksgiving meal to a group of men and women who had struggled with addictions. One woman slowly approached the chow line and humbly asked for stuffing. We had two types of stuffing and I asked her which one she preferred and she said, ‘Both please’ and smiled. That is all she wanted. Later on, I found out the woman had struggled with an eating disorder and this was her first Thanksgiving meal since she was a child. My guess is that stuffing was her favorite dish for the holiday. She later returned to ask for seconds and I happily served her more.”
- Completing questionnaires online
- Uploading documents
- Initiating new cases
- Checking immigration updates from around the world
- Finding special instructions for documents
- Checking case status
- Making visa appointments
- Contacting their immigration specialist
There is no doubt that we see diversity everywhere. We see it in the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the music we play, where we live, and how we spend our leisure time. Diversity is a driver of our economy. At work we see diversity in jobs, skills and experience, age, exempt and on-exempt employees, and cultural backgrounds = in other words, the PEOPLE.
Organizational leadership is faced with challenges that diversity brings, but it also has opportunities when diversity is recognized and used as a resource. Many organizations have well defined diversity programs designed to identify its own diversity and then provide learning opportunities that support that diversity. If an organization does not have a diversity program, they may want to research diversity programs that others have implemented successfully. The following are some general points to consider for an existing or potential diversity program.
Step 1: Determine why you are implementing the diversity program (plan) and the outcome/s you desire = Mission Statement. An example of a mission statement might be: To achieve a status of employer of choice while providing opportunities that encourage employees to be productive and successful.
Step 2: Develop clear objectives for the program plan, such as:
- Define diversity and identify the dimensions of diversity
- Recognize how your culture drives attitudes and behaviors toward diverse populations
- Develop an action plan for increasing awareness of diversity and the role it plays in your organization’s success
- Develop strategies for increasing an understanding of the harmful effects of stereotypes and inappropriate behaviors and humor directed to an individual or group
- Establishing guidelines for interaction that fosters respect for diversity
- Understand and comply with federal employment guidelines
- Recruit, train/develop, and retain talented people
Step 3: Form a Diversity Advisory Committee or Council which will develop and implement programs, policies, and procedures that will address personnel interactions and issues. The committee should include a cross-section of employees including race, gender, age, functional teams or divisions, management and non-management, full-time and part-time, and work shifts.
Step 4: Develop evaluation tools and establish progress indicators or benchmarks that will provide feedback on what is going well and what future initiatives might be needed to achieve the diversity program goals.
Diversity is here to stay. Capitalizing on diversity and fostering an environment for its inclusion is just good business sense!
This article was published by www.hr.com
Paragon embraces employee diversity companywide. We have a comprehensive supplier diversity program which was established to increase inclusion and diversification of our global suppliers.
Paragon works with a number of suppliers, many of whom are small businesses. Diversity among these suppliers is an important aspect of Paragon’s supply chain philosophy. We believe diversity is good for our business in a variety of ways:
- Regional diversity gives us access to worldwide skills and markets and provides business resiliency if disruptions occur in a particular region
- Culturally diverse suppliers offer different viewpoints which help to develop and market services that fit the needs of the global community
- Social diversity promotes inclusiveness that benefits communities and local economies
The Paragon supplier diversity program provides equal access to businesses owned by minorities, women, service disabled and veterans as well as to companies in historically underutilized business zones (HUB zones). Currently, Paragon exceeds our internal goal of awarding 10 percent of our supplier expenditures to such businesses.
Paragon Relocation hosted its third Annual Conference during October in Dublin, Ireland. The meeting was directed by Liam Brennan, Managing Director of Paragon Relocation. In attendance were representatives from Paragon Relocation’s Operations in Hong Kong, South Korea, The Netherlands, Spain and the USA.
Conference sessions addressed current trends and challenges within the global mobility industry and also provided opportunities for networking and sharing best practices with colleagues. The agenda included presentations on key growth initiatives, cost control approaches and best practices adopted by companies in light of today’s economy.
“The Paragon Relocation Annual Conference provides an opportunity to discuss current and significant issues with peers and take away solutions that will enhance our organization’s ability to perform in an increasingly competitive environment,” said Joe Morabito, CEO of Paragon Relocation. “As the economy enters a new phase, there are many new opportunities to seize and in this a New Normal environment, Paragon Relocation has the necessary expertise and capacity to adapt and thrive.”
“This is an exciting time for Paragon Relocation,” states Liam Brennan. “In the coming months, we will focus on new growth projects and expanding the Paragon Relocation brand into key markets.”
Worldwide ERC®, Global Workforce Symposium
Paragon Relocation was a sponsor and exhibitor at the Global Workforce Symposium on October 25-29 in Seattle, WA. The week kicked off with training for the Global Mobility Specialist (GMS) certification. Paragon Relocation had
|From left to right: Liam Brennan, Stuart McAlister, Jennifer Morabito, June Ranson, and Brian Morabito|
two employees attend the training. At the conclusion of the training sessions, Terri Hamilton and Mike Morabito earned their GMS certification.
To wrap-up the week, Paragon Relocation also hosted their partner Destination Service Providers (DSP) attending ERC at an intimate dinner overlooking Lake Washington to honor them for their excellent service on behalf of Paragon Relocation around the world.
CIPD Conference & Event
Paragon Relocation recently attended the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition at Manchester Central, on November 9-11. As the professional body for those involved in the management and development of people in the UK, over 3,000 CIPD members attended the three-day conference.
This year, the event explored a number of key areas in HR competencies, based on the theme of “Forward Planning, Forward Thinking, Forward Moving”, as the global economy enters a new phase of development.
Each year, the conference presents a great opportunity for HR professionals to see all of the major suppliers in one location and the CIPD has proven to be a busy and successful event for Paragon. Our third time to exhibit at the event, Paragon showcased our cost saving initiative, Partner Select.
Barrie Gilmour, Director, Global Business Development was on hand for the duration of the conference to offer tailored advice to HR delegates on relocation best practices.
“Giet it oan?” – Frisian for “Is it on?”
Skating fever has started. After a week of biting winds and freezing temperatures, the ice is forming along the canals and waterways in Friesland in the North of the Netherlands. Once the ice is deemed thick enough, young and old wrap up in fur hats and gloves and take to their skates. Skating is a Dutch tradition, sport and frenzy. Many expats may wonder if there is a particular Dutch gene associated with this craze.
The 11 cities tour or “Elfstedentocht” is the most famous. First held in 1909, it’s a marathon race of 200 km (124.27 miles) with 15,000 amateur skaters taking part. The race is not held every year as the ice has to be at least 15 cms (5.91 inches) thick over the entire course for the organizers to give the green light. The excitement builds each year as the anticipation grows. Will it happen this year? Giet it oan?
The coldest race was in 1963, when only 69 of the 10,000 skaters made it to the finish line. A film released in 2009 “The Hell of 63″ tells the gruelling tales of the riders and the fierce determination some showed in completing the race. Amazingly no one died that day, but there were many broken bones and frozen limbs. View a trailer at Bridge Entertainment Group or search Youtube for a taste of the Dutch steely grit!
For those looking for a more sedate afternoon, just take a chair out on to the ice.
Managing relocation in the current business environment has become increasingly challenging because of declining real estate markets in many areas of the United States. One out of four homeowners is upside down on their mortgages, meaning that they owe more on their mortgage than the home is worth. As a result of high unemployment, about 300,000 homes a month are going into foreclosure in the US. There may be as many as 5 million homes in foreclosure with more on the way. Very often when transferees attempt to purchase a home, they are encountering Short Sales; a seller working with the bank to sell the home for less that the mortgage amount to avoid foreclosure. Purchasing a home through a Short Sale is problematic at best because it can take several months before the transferee learns if he or she is the winning bidder. While in general it might be best to avoid Short Sales altogether, it is very tough to do in states like California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida where perhaps 50% of homes on the market are Short Sales.
This is the “New Normal” we are likely to face for the next several years in the US until unemployment comes down and all these distressed Short Sale homes are absorbed by buyers. As a result, we are working with clients to pressure test their relocation programs to determine if their US Domestic relocation plans, that may have worked fine in the “Old Normal”, when houses were selling in 30, 60 or 90 days, are workable today in the New Normal. In many cases, policy revisions are required to reflect the market conditions that we all face. In many areas in the US, it is taking much longer to sell homes. Typical Buyer Value Option Programs, that had no potential for Guaranteed Buy-Out at some point really need to be changed to include a Sunset Clause that provides for a Guaranteed Buy-Out offer from Paragon after a prolonged marketing period. This is also needed to survive an IRS audit should one ever occur because of these extended Marketing times. It may be that at 120 or 180 days on the market, if the home has not sold, a Sunset Clause should kick in where in which a Guaranteed Buy-Out offer is made by Paragon. Once done, there can be an additional 30 or 60 days of Marketing time in an attempt to meet, or beat the offer; but ultimately if a buyer is not found in 6 – 9 months, the transferee should be relieved of the burden of the home. In the long run, this will be more cost effective for the client. Extended Marketing times typically result in extended Temporary Living that may cost several thousand dollars a month and require equivalent tax gross up, while third party homesale benefits, properly administered, can be provided tax free.
Through an exclusive partnership with Lloyds International, Paragon Relocation offers expanded banking benefits to assignees wherever they are in the world. With a Premier International Account, assignees have access to their money worldwide, in their choice of Sterling, Euro and US Dollar currencies.
With the international debit card*, assignees save money by not incurring any overseas transaction charges and through the bank’s preferential exchange rates. The account is fee-free with a minimum balance and comes with worldwide family travel insurance included.
For assignees coming into the United States, there is no US credit history required. Lloyds Banking Group also offers a range of instant access and long-term investment products that allow assignees to continue saving and avoid the effect of currency fluctuations, with savings in all major currencies.
Assignees typically find it very hard to set up local banking accounts in their host country due to not having a local credit history. These products can provide them with the service they need and can be easily set up before they leave. Benefits include:
- Reliable, convenient access to funds
- 24-hour access to accounts while overseas
- Worldwide assistance opening accounts
- Upscale banking service, including access to personal bankers
- Reduced fees and preferential foreign exchange rates
*Debit cards are fee-free on purchases when used in the correct jurisdiction and currency
In December 2010, The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2011 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes as follows:
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2011, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
- 51 cents per mile for business miles driven
- 19 cents per mile driven for moving purposes
The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs as determined by the same study. Independent contractor Runzheimer International conducted the study.
A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle.
In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously. The IRS is requesting public comments on whether taxpayers should be allowed to use the business standard mileage rate in this circumstance.
Beginning in 2011, a taxpayer may use the business standard mileage rate for vehicles used for hire, such as taxicabs.
Also beginning in 2011, the standard mileage rates are announced in a separate notice, which also provides the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate and the maximum standard automobile cost for automobiles under a FAVR allowance. The IRS plans to discontinue publishing the standard mileage rate revenue procedure annually but will publish modifications as required.
Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates. For more information visit www.irs.gov and search mileage rates.
Paragon Relocation, a leading provider of global relocation solutions, underscored the company’s commitment to its core value of community involvement through a number of charity initiatives. As a part of the employee donation matching program, Paragon has given $6,674 in financial contributions to various charities that are valued by Paragon employees.
In addition, through a new program introduced this year, Paragon made a $5 donation for each hour a Paragon employee worked for a charitable organization. Since October, when the program was introduced, 87 employee volunteer hours were paid, which equaled an additional donation of $345.
“We are excited and proud of our employees’ efforts to give both financially, as well as through volunteer time throughout 2010. This is a reflection of what has always been a core value at Paragon and speaks volumes with regard to the quality of our employees,” said Joseph Morabito, CEO of Paragon.
Most recently, Paragon employees held food drives in several communities, which resulted in donations of more than 200 lbs. of food to local food banks. Additionally, employees raised money through raffles and contests to benefit other charitable organizations, including Toys for Tots.
With the housing market in its current condition many relocating employees are choosing not to buy in their new location. This is for a combination of reasons, perhaps relocating employees do not want to take the risk that the housing market has not hit the bottom yet and they could lose money on their new home or possibly they do not want to sell their current home due to a decline in the amount of equity available in their current home from which they would apply to the purchase of a new home.
As a result there has been a rise in the amount of Homeowners choosing to rent in the new location after they have been relocated. As the chart below summarizes, 67% of companies have either seen “a significant increase” or “somewhat of an increase” over the previous year of Homeowners who have decided to rent rather than buy in the new location.
Source: Mobility Magazine
In addition to the reasons listed above a Relocation Management Company, such as Paragon Relocation, would be able to facilitate Property Management services which help with the upkeep, and rental management of the employee’s home in the old location while the employee rents in the new location. This option is often a positive alternative to having the sell the home at a loss for both the employee and the employer because both can be shielded from what could amount to a large loss on the sale of the home from what it was originally purchased for.
Paragon Relocation designs policies for client’s to meet their needs in the New Normal offering the flexibility needed to address a dynamic workforce. For more information about our relocation services please visit the Paragon Relocation home page.
In 2009, Paragon issued a Relocation Client Advisory to owners of homes that were built with Chinese Drywall. During the housing boom, new construction was at an all time high and domestic producers of drywall were unable to keep up with the demand. To keep up with the overwhelming demand for drywall due to new construction during the housing boom, China offered a viable solution; the necessary supply of goods, as well as lower costs to builders. In 2009, Chinese Drywall joined the ranks of radon, synthetic stucco, and toxic mold as red flags in home inspections which are detrimental to a homeowner’s ability to sell; impacting both marketing efforts and the value of the home.
In September, 2010 the IRS issued guidance providing relief to homeowners suffering property losses due to the effects of the affected drywall. According the Revenue Procedure 2010-36:
- Individuals who pay to repair damage to their personal residences or household appliances resulting from corrosive drywall may treat the amount paid as a casualty loss in the year of payment.
- Taxpayers who have already filed their income tax return for the year of payment generally have three years to file an amended return and claim the deduction. The amount of a loss that may be claimed depends on whether the taxpayer has a pending claim for reimbursement (or intends to pursue reimbursement) of the loss through property insurance, litigation or otherwise.
- In cases where a taxpayer does not have a pending claim for reimbursement, the taxpayer may claim as a loss all unreimbursed amounts paid during the taxable year to repair damage to the taxpayer’s personal residence and household appliances resulting from corrosive drywall.
- If a taxpayer does have a pending claim (or intends to pursue reimbursement), a taxpayer may claim a loss for 75 percent of the unreimbursed amount paid during the taxable year to repair damage to the taxpayer’s personal residence and household appliances that resulted from corrosive drywall.
In a recent Mobility Magazine, they included the graph below which gives the averages of the cost of an individual move for a transferee by service.
Source: Mobility Magazine
How much are these services costing your organization?
In addition to the traditional International Assignments such as the Long Term Assignment, the Short Term Assignment and the Global Permanent Move or Localization, Michael Cadden, MBA, GMS, managing director—international operations for Living Abroad, LLC, points out in a recent Mobility Magazine article the rise of new “Alternative Assignments” that have become more common as corporations move more people internationally today.
He identifies 8 nuanced alternative types of International Assignments:
- Hybrid Localizations – “Hybrid localizations have terms and conditions that are a combination of a traditional assignment, home country elements plus some from the host country.”
- Extended Business Travel – this would simply be an extended business trip that would normally be categorized as a short term or long term assignment but is not report to Global HR as such.
- One-way Transfers – “Some companies simply treat an international move like a domestic transfer. Like localizations, they do not even imply that a job is waiting for them back home on their repatriation, which is rarely if ever true.”
- European Commuter Assignments – “Worldwide ERC® defines commuter assignments as those where an employee lives in one country but works in another country for a specified period of time, a situation that is not uncommon for European employers.”
- Cross-border Commuters - “Cross-border commuting originally is a European concept that works well for the type of person whose weekday job is in London, UK, but who lives in Frankfurt, Germany. “
- Rotators – “Rotator assignments are unique to the energy and extraction industries, as “assignees” living in camps are on floating oil rigs. Their schedules typically consist of 28 days on and 28 days off.”
- Single-status Assignments – these are assignments that focus on sending single people on Long Term Assignments to which allows a corporation to avoid paying for the relocation for an entire family which can be costly.
In his conclusion about Alternative Assignments Cadden states:
A definite benefit from Alternative Assignments is that several corporate departments are being forced to work together for the benefit of the assignee and the company— tax, finance, HR, and business travel.
My final word is one of caution: these assignments do not always save money, for that matter, being caught out of tax and visa compliance can incur some hefty fines and outcomes, such as deportation, that might not be anticipated.
To read the entire article about Alternative Assignments please visit this link.
Recently WallStreetJournal.com posted an article about relocating employees in the “New Normal” which has had a dramatic effect on the current housing market. Among other aspects of Relocation being discussed the author also breaches the topic of how the Loss on Sale benefit seems to be an essential element of any comprehensive relocation program during this recovering housing market.
Peggy Smith, CEO of Worldwide ERC, discusses the option of using Property Management as an alternative to Homesale Assistance:
[Smith] has seen some employers offer property-management services to employees who can’t sell their old home and choose to rent it out. Other times, employers will see if an employee can work from home or an alternate location, she says.
Barbara Denison, relocation manager for CSX, discusses the effectiveness of CSX’s Loss on Sale program:
Other companies have expanded their relocation policies to help employees who are considering a transfer or promotion and need to sell.
If a management employee must relocate for a transfer or promotion and can’t sell her home within 90 days, railroad company CSX Corp. offers a guaranteed buyout of the home for its appraised value, plus a portion of the employee’s loss if the home was appraised for less than the price the employee bought it at, says [Denison], of Jacksonville, Fla.
In January, CSX expanded the loss on a home it is willing to pick up and lifted restrictions on the policy that required the employee to have bought the home in the past three years, says Ms. Denson. She declined to disclose the size of the caps.
Still, some employees have had to turn down promotions or transfers because the loss they’d take on their home would be too great, says Ms. Denson. “Going into management is a plus, but sometimes the difficulty is too great,” she says. “The policies make it easier for employees to accept transfers and for us to fill positions.”
To read Luring Employees to New Locations in its entirety please visit the Wall Street Journal website.
How is your company approaching transferring talent to new locations with the current housing market the way it is? Have you included a Loss on Sale provision in your relocation benefits package? Have you considered offering Property Management services as an alternative to Homesale Assistance?
Please let us know your thoughts in the comments bellow or on Twitter!
Paragon’s Dallas office held a food drive for the North Texas Food Bank. Employees donated over 200lbs of food and to our Tom the turkey box.
We also raised $197 which was matched by the Paragon Foundation totaling a $394 donation to the North Texas Food Bank to help families in need this holiday season.