Accommodation calculator: Useful for HR?

by Cameron Edmond30 Jan 2014

ECA International has launched an online tool to help HR review and calculate housing provision for their mobile talent. The tool draws upon ECA’s database of expatriate housing data and understanding of global mobility policies.

 “Not only can they use the tool to set and justify appropriate and cost-effective expatriate housing budgets with confidence and consistency but they can also identify the housing options available within popular expatriate districts across the locations they send employees into, be it Brussels, Luanda or Hanoi, according to their chosen budget,” Rebecca Darling, head of production at ECA International, explained.

How does the tool work exactly, and is it worth a place in your budget allocation? HC gave the trial version a whirl.

The tool, for the most part, seems to service the gathering of data for payroll admin. While it isn’t perfect in terms of navigation, it isn’t particularly difficult to figure out either.

The user is able to enter data on the expatriate employee in terms of the size of their family, as well as the type of accommodation they will be living in, job title, etc. The calculator then returns the monthly allowance necessary for those living conditions in that area.

The full version of the tool also allows HR to break down the information further – finding popular districts for expatriates, information on furnishing, etc.

As a standalone tool, it does provide some useful data. However, its use is limited when not combined with other ECA tools (calculators for cost of living, tax, etc.)

Whether the tool is worthwhile is something organisations must decide for themselves. International organisations who deal with expatriate placement will most likely already have systems in place for collecting data and deciding on placement.

For organisations just breaking into the field, it may provide a useful starting point. Reports on the data are also provided as part of a subscription, which some HR professionals may prefer to use instead of the calculator.

Broken down, the main uses of the tool for HR can be described as:

·Establish a single or multi-strand policy for housing allowances.

·Gauge the suitability of the policy across locations.

·Gain insights into the variances in policy and how this will impact availability.

·Find expatriate districts.

·Increase ease and speed of access to figures and data.

Does this tool sound worthwhile to you? Do you deal with expatriate placement in another way? Let us know in the comments!

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