Dutch Expatriates Feel Welcome in Cleveland

“At times like these, Holland can seem pretty close, the newcomers say, close enough that Cleveland does not feel so foreign.” Robert L. Smith of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio writes about a local Dutch school, De Nederlandse School Cleveland, focused on preserving the Dutch culture in the United States. This school was organized by Dutch expatriates with the goal of preserving their language, traditions, and customs for their children while fulfilling their international assignment with their employer. This school and other ethnic language schools in Northeast Ohio, not only help provide support to expatriates already in the region, but also help the region look more desirable to expatriates who may be deciding if relocating here is right for them.

Bernardine van Kessel, a Dutch immigrant and director of international business attraction for Team Northeast Ohio, the region’s business attraction agency, states, “That’s not going to make the deal, but it’s what we call a soft selling factor … people like it. They don’t expect to come to Cleveland, Ohio, and find a school in their language. It’s part of our quality of life.”

Click the following link to read the full story, http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2014/02/cleveland_dutch_school_welcome.html

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Close Neighbors: Understanding the Experience of Moving Between the US and Canada

Dwellworks conducted a study in collaboration with The Interchange Institute (a non-profit research and training organization) on US-to-Canada and Canada-to-US transfers, in light of the often noted but rarely studied difficulties during moves between similar cultures. Using interviews and an online survey tool, in-depth information was gathered regarding the practical and emotional challenges facing over 150 relocating employees and the destination services providers hired to help them.

One of the most consistent challenges reported by employees and providers in both US-to-Canada and Canada-to-US moves was the subtle but strong belief that since the countries were so similar, help and attention was not needed. Providers reported frustration that their offers of assistance were often rejected until problems (e.g., car importing, visa delays) were encountered. Employees revealed the root of this pattern in their frequent expression of surprise that moving between these two countries was actually difficult and required much bureaucratic maneuvering. An unspoken message from both Canadians and Americans was that they didn’t really consider this an international move. Many had easily driven back and forth over the border numerous times on business or personal trips and were surprised that this time, for an expatriate move, they suddenly were “importing a car,” with all the paperwork and delays that entailed.

Differences in fundamentally important aspects of daily living – notably healthcare, banking, education, and amount of choice – required much explanation from providers and adjustment on the part of employees moving in both directions. Superficial similarities between the countries (e.g., language, dress, building style, food) clearly camouflage important differences in daily life that can be taxing for newcomers who arrive without sufficient information.

US and Canadian employees also reported different social values and communication styles in the two countries. Americans in Canada reported perceiving more negative reactions – saying they felt they were often perceived as pushy, rude and arrogant – compared to Canadians in the US – who felt that Canadians were generally perceived as nice, friendly hockey fans. Canadians in the US especially appreciated the career opportunities their move provided them; Americans in Canada especially appreciated the chance to raise their children in Canada. The more differences employees perceived – in practical and social ways – the less smooth was their transition and the less satisfactory was their overall experience.

Providers can successfully help their employees navigate the surprising challenges of moving to a “close neighbor” by educating them early in the relocation cycle about the legal, practical, and cultural differences they will encounter.

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Dwellworks Partners with Educacion para el Desarollo for Mexico Charity Event

With donations from Dwellworks associates and consultants, our Mexico office purchased toys and candies for 88 children (ages 2-12) for a poor community in the State of Mexico on December 7th. This event was coordinated with the local group Educacion para el Desarollo (Education for Development), which works to create schools and educational programs for young children and their families. Most of our Mexico team helped with buying the toys, preparing packages and delivering them. The Dwellworks Mexico team is planning to follow up with this association and partner for other philanthropy events during 2014.

Education for Development Event

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Future of the U.S. Rental Market

With the U.S. national apartment vacancy rate expected to remain low moving into 2014, much discussion surrounds the need for more policies catering to transferring employees choosing to rent rather than buy. Michelle Sandlin, Relocation Professional and Correspondent for the Houston Chronicle, presents this issue in her article On the Move: Future of U.S. Rental Market Concerns Relo Professionals.

The need to implement relocation policies for renters was the focus of a panel discussion at the Worldwide ERC Global Workforce Symposium in Dallas this past October. According to 2012 statistics released by Worldwide ERC, 62% of transferees are choosing to rent. Typically, the cost of moving a renter is far less than the cost of moving a buyer, but companies have fewer policies for renters. Challenges renters face today include low inventory and increasing rental prices, along with employer focus on cost containment and diversifying assignment types and durations.

Many rental markets in the majority of US cities are healthy, but often difficult to navigate. Transferees often have very little negotiation room when it comes to lease terms. Companies may need to reevaluate or create rental policies to respond to this market trend.

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Dwellworks Attends 2013 Worldwide ERC Global Workforce Symposium

 Dwellworks was excited to attend the Fall Worldwide ERC Global Workforce Symposium during the week of October 20. We gained important industry insight by attending several educational sessions and through conversations with fellow attendees. The Dwellworks team was honored to receive the following awards: Mobile App Booth2

  • BP Vendor of the Year, Western Hemisphere
  • Cartus Commitment to Excellence Gold – Property Management
  • Cartus Commitment to Excellence Silver – Appraisal
  • Cartus Commitment to Excellence Silver – Destination Services (UK)
  • Cartus Commitment to Excellence Silver – Destination Services (US)
  • Lexicon World of Quality Supplier Excellence Award – Destination Services

 We were also proud to sponsor the Symposium’s mobile app. We’d like to thank all of our clients and new friends that we met during the conference!

 

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The Balancing Act of Apartment Supply and Demand

According to figures released October 1 by real estate research firm, Reis, Inc., the US national apartment vacancy rate fell to 4.2% in Q3 from 4.3% in Q2. Collecting data in 79 US markets, Reis reported this was the lowest vacancy rate since Q3 2001 when the rate dropped to 3.9%.  While rents have risen accordingly, the increases have not been as high as expected.  In Q3, the national average market rent escalated .9% to $1,121.00.  Not surprisingly, rents in the San Francisco and San Jose markets jumped at a higher rate of 2.2%.  New construction expected to continue in Q4 and into 2014 may serve to raise the vacancy rate and slow down the increases in monthly rental rates.

Hot markets such as Austin, Dallas, Seattle and Denver will continue to see low vacancy rates despite new construction projects.  Conversely, aggressive new building projects may leave other cities with a glut of properties and some developers are proactively slowing down the construction pace. While the absorption of new apartment inventory has been better than anticipated and funding from public and private sources flush, the lower than expected rental rate increases have investors putting on the brakes.

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Reopening of SSA Operations

With an agreement reached on funding federal government operations, we expect crucial Social Security Administration functions to resume, including filing for Social Security numbers.  Recognizing there will be a backlog at many high volume SSA offices,  Dwellworks is advising its local Destination Services Consultants to reach out to assignees to prioritize applications and schedule SSA office visits and application reviews with SSA staff.  Assignees will be advised that SSA wait time and process time will likely be prolonged and may deviate from the typical times due to the increased volume of incoming applications.  As always, our service is there to support assignees until their cards have been successfully obtained.

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Congratulations to the 2013 EMMA Award Winners!

Dwellworks congratulates all the winners of the 2013 EMMA Awards! We were honored to once again attend this industry event. For more information about this year’s winners, click here.

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Thank You Clients! Celebrating National Customer Service Week

This week, the US celebrates National Customer Service Week!  Below is a brief history and explanation along with this year’s theme, “United through Service.”  It’s great how this ties together with the Dwellworks corporate value of teamwork and also the importance of building relationships with customers and clients.

National Customer Service Week was created by The International Customer Service Association (www.ICSAtoday.org) in 1984 in order to set aside a distinct time each year to recognize and reward those who work in customer service companies and industries.  In 1991, the ICSA was successful in working with the United States Congress to recognize the week as an annual National event.

In 1992, President George H. Bush signed a Presidential Proclamation officially recognizing the first week of October as National Customer Service Week. In the Proclamation, President Bush cited the critical value of service excellence in the US economy. He said,

“A business will do a better job of providing high quality goods and services by listening to its employees and by empowering them with opportunities to make a difference. Customer service professionals work in the front lines where a firm meets its customers; where supply meets demand. With responsive policies and procedures and with simple courtesy, customer service professionals can go a long way toward ensuring customer satisfaction and eliciting the next round of orders and purchases.”

The theme for this year’s National Customer Service Week is: “United through Service.” Great service and creating an extraordinary customer experience result in satisfied, loyal clients and serve to establish a foundation upon which to build and maintain essential client relationships. We become – united, through that service experience.

It is sometimes easy to take for granted our internal customer relationships, as we focus heavily on our external clients. It is essential to remember the importance to also foster meaningful relationships with and provide exceptional service to those within your organization.

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Government Shutdown Effect – Social Security Applications

Here is the latest information on the impact the partial US government shutdown may have on relocation services, from the Social Security Administration (SSA):

Effective with a Federal Government Shutdown October 1st, Social Security field offices will remain open with limited services.  Social Security card centers will be closed. Field offices will NOT be able to issue new or replacement Social Security cards.

This information impacts  appointments that Destination Services Consultants have scheduled with assignees to accompany them to SSA offices beginning on  October 1.  It is our understanding that  field offices will not issue new cards or renewals until funding is approved and normal operations resume.  Please be aware that the inability to secure Social Security Numbers also impacts the ability to obtain driver’s licenses in many states, and impacts payroll processing as well.

We will be sure to post and provide updates as this situation changes.

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