A year has passed since the “Great Resignation” entered the vernacular for businesses around the world. In the U.S. alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey’s (JOLTS) most recent report confirmed that, for each and every month of the past year, people quitting their jobs exceeded the 4-million mark, which was a 20-year high when it first happened April 2021.
The mobility industry—relocation management companies (RMCs), their corporate clients, and their downstream suppliers—have not been immune to the trend. Indeed, what has reverberated across our industries in the wake of the pandemic feels like the Dark Ages, a time characterized by minimal cultural advancement, because how can we as RMCs advance our businesses and our clients’ mobility programs if we are drained of the talent responsible for driving, innovating, and carrying forth such missions? Our businesses are nothing without our people.
Bristol has held a long-standing, people-centric mission throughout our 25 years in mobility. We have never left people out of the equation of doing business, and have instead put them front and center, as our relational approach to our own employees, clients, customers, and supplier-partners has hinged upon the mission of Connecting with, versus Controlling People℠. We realized that to best serve our clients and to protect the wellbeing of our associates (our employees) working for Bristol in one of the most taxing times in modern history, we must meet our associates where they are.
Rather than let the Great Resignation tax our resources or hinder our devotion and quality of care extended to our clients, we are re-envisioning and re-tooling our culture, focusing on our people like never before. We feel we have entered an age of rebirth—our Renaissance, if you will. The way we see it, we believe we are in a period in our company’s history marked by introspection, rediscovery of our humanness, artistic spirit, creativity, curiosity and wisdom, characteristics and company-wide investments which combined, have led to amazing results: 99% client retention, 97% client satisfaction, and 97% customer (transferee) satisfaction, while strengthening our sound financial footing.
To achieve such results amidst a global workforce/business disruption must mean we’ve hit upon something: struck gold, found the secret sauce, captured that “Je ne sais quoi.” What we’ve discovered is that looking inward leads to success outward: by taking care of our people, they took care of our clients and customers unlike ever before, creating a loop of connection and success that feeds on itself.
We believe that the investments we have made in our associates— à la the Renaissance—have led to superior servicing of our clients, resulting in one of Bristol’s most successful years in business.
HUMANISM, INTROSPECTION, AND CURIOSITY
Humanism was the backbone of the Renaissance. Classic Greek philosophy was revisited, and the motto of philosopher Protagoras, “Man is the measure of all things,” was infused in the artistic and scientific endeavors of the time. Bristol has expanded this definition to include women and the diverse range of all people with different backgrounds and abilities. We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) principles are integral to cultivating thriving cultures, including company cultures, and made investments in this area for the betterment of our associates:
- In 2021, Bristol joined the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion initiative, which requires that company leaders increase awareness and best practices for DE&I, stopping prejudice and inequality.
- We began tracking our progress with the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles, which offer guidance on gender equality and women’s empowerment, as we became a signatory in 2020. 2021 marked continued professional development of women in our workplace, with majority of promotions and new hires being women. We also appointed a woman to our board.
We strive to be a more educated, understanding, and open employer. To keep our associates curious and exposed to new ideas—hallmark behaviors of the Renaissance—related to DE&I, we invested in:
- Insperity’s (our HR services partner) training: From the curriculum (covering diversity, unconscious bias, microaggression, LGBTQ+ diversity, and more), associates enhance their understanding of social issues inside and outside the business so that we can be wiser, more caring global citizens.
- World Trade Resource’s (WTR’s) JUSTWise digital coaching: Every associate receives a competency-based and metrics-driven certificate from the learning, which serves them in immeasurable ways in their work and personal lives, as JUSTWise is the only competency and certificate-based solution outside of a program offered by Cornell University.
Bristol’s DE&I focus is also shared with our clients. Our clients tell us that they seek ways to integrate their companies’ broader DE&I strategies with relocation opportunities. Thanks to our own internal introspection and quickly growing awareness in this area, we have been able to provide our clients and their relocating employees solutions to support their related business priorities like WTR’s JUSTWise and wtrMobility’s location information to assist LGBTQ+ assignees in understanding countries’ laws and cultural zeitgeist toward the LGBTQ+ community in support of our clients’ duty of care.
We are also providing our associates more opportunities to improve DE&I and cultural-awareness practices, to indulge in their curiosities, and to invest in a sustainable future planet:
- We are encouraging associates to embrace our new wellbeing resources: LifeGuides, which provides access to trained support specialists; Boombox, which creates a place for virtual shared experience like yoga classes; and MasterClass for Business, which offers a focus on soft skills and self-improvement.
- We partnered with giving company, B1G1, whose technology enables us to give to projects around the world. In 2021, we surveyed our associates to identify which of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals meant the most to them and then let them decide which projects we support.
APPRECIATING THE NATURAL WORLD: SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES
Investments in exploring the natural world and studying its wonders also thrived during the Renaissance. In Bristol’s Renaissance, our investment in the natural world increased as well, with an aim to preserve and protect. In 2021, a volunteer Sustainability Committee formed thanks to passionate associates. Nearly 10% of Bristol associates have voluntarily joined to support Bristol Global Mobility’s Sustainability 2022-2025 strategy, formed in partnership with Planet Mark, a sustainability certification organization. Bristol is proud of these passionate advocates for driving the industry into a better future where sustainable mobility is possible in all forms. To match our associates’ commitments, Bristol invested in each committee member by enrolling them in a Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership course to ensure that they have the skills to make change.
We also began our membership with Planet Mark in March 2021, which solidified the beginning of our sustainability initiative. (Planet Mark is a sustainability certification for any type of organization. The certification recognizes continuous improvement, encourages action, and builds an empowered community of like-minded individuals who make a world of difference.) Quickly after the announcement of Bristol's new goals and initiative, a volunteer Sustainability Committee formed and got right to work! The committee began collecting data from numerous areas of the company to form a starting point. As a result of our work to lay the foundation for our sustainability goals, we published an official sustainability strategy that contains specific tactics and associated metrics that stretch into the year 2025. That strategy, “Move the World,” is fueled by the vision: “To move the world closer together through impactful connections, to improve lives and protect the planet.”
Bristol was shortlisted as a finalist for Planet Mark's Sustainability Awards under the Sustainability Transparency category following the enormous effort from our entire company to drive forward this worthwhile cause. This award category recognizes the companies making the best example in their public transparency (e.g., website, sustainability/CSR/ESG report) of their sustainability progress.
During 2021, Bristol also took the unprecedented action of collating and reporting all emissions data relating to all clients and supplier-partners for every one of the relocation transactions we had worked on together throughout 2020. We believe that embracing full transparency with respect to our sharing this carbon footprint data will mean that we can all work together to minimize the environmental impacts of the global mobility activity we manage.
Bristol’s clients are also focusing more than ever before on sustainability and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) initiatives. Our sustainability strategy recognizes this, as one focus area is “connecting our clients,” with our intent being to improve and communicate how we contribute to our clients’ sustainability-related goals. To support their business priorities, we have committed to being completely transparent with our own strategy, tactics, and results. For instance, we have sent our clients and supplier-partners all the emissions data we have, and we want to share best practices so that they can meet their own goals. We set up client and supplier roundtables in November and December 2021 to talk through strategies and began providing clients reporting on the emissions from their relocations. These acts mark just the beginning of our progress.
Bristol has committed not to pass the cost of driving our sustainability strategy on to our clients or supplier-partners. Our effort is completely Bristol-funded in order to ensure there are no financial ties that might influence our drive to deliver positive change.
In living out our Renaissance, we would be remiss not to include the arts! In 2021, we initiated a wholesale re-design of our Phoenix headquarters to create a communal, open, interactive environment void of cubes. The intent is for people to gather, connect, learn, and innovate. Our project includes space for a special piece of art: our pineapple logo sculpture handmade by Bristol associates, supplier-partners, and clients. The sculpture’s overall structure symbolizes our diversity as individuals bonding together in common cause around our central “core.”
This piece was born from our vision to enhance our personal connections through a participative creative art project. After Bristol approached artist Cheryl Vargas (pictured at right with the sculpture) to create a piece for Bristol’s U.S. headquarters that would undergo wholesale renovation in 2021, she had the idea to create a sculpture the size of a Christmas tree that incorporated a team activity using all recyclable and renewable materials. 150 people (Bristol associates, supplier-partners, and clients) were involved in the creation of the Bristol pineapple. As our world headquarters is in Phoenix, AZ, the use of the copper materials was significant as well, and we were pleased to tie in our commitment to sustainability in the use of recycled materials.
While we’ve always embraced the importance of an engaged and fulfilled workforce, we have pushed this embrace to its fullest extent, adopting our even more intense, employee-centric approach. The compassionate care we extend to our associates has an undeniable chain reaction, linking to our expanded desire—to care for our world.
We excitedly look forward to pushing further and partnering with all of you in ways designed to create identifiable, measureable, and meaningful progress. Collaborating with our clients and supplier-partners around the world, our hope is the establishment of another fruitful—and fruit-filled—25 years!