Millennials on the Move

HR Outsourcing

Younger workers are ready and willing to relocate. Use it to your benefit.

By Tim O’Shea

Twenty years ago, only a small percentage of the workforce—typically C-suite executives—expected to relocate for career advancement. Now the industry is seeing a significant shift toward younger employees relocating to grow professionally. It’s changing how organizations think about talent acquisition, retention, and development and how employees map their lives and careers. In fact, a new Wakefield survey for Graebel found that millennials are willing to relocate for work, believe mobility is essential for career advancement, are willing to postpone life milestones for professional development, and are highly independent.

Where does this stem from? Millennials’ willingness to relocate is probably the result of the study-abroad programs they utilize to gain exposure to other countries and cultures during college. Eighty-four percent of millennials are willing to relocate for a job and 82 percent of millennials believe eventual relocation will be necessary for career advancement. More and more college graduates are entering the workforce with a stronger desire to live and work in another country. Millennials, now more than ever, have a global mindset when it comes to their careers.

International experience matters. Eighty-three percent of respondents say they would to give preference to a prospective employee who has worked abroad, if they oversaw hiring. In 20 years, millennials will be sitting in the chairs currently occupied by baby boomers and making hiring decisions that will set the course for their companies’ futures. Just as executives today assess employees based on their own experiences, millennials will pay more attention to candidates who have worked overseas. Mobility is a major career-building factor and will be for many years to come.

Professional opportunities are shifting personal choices. To live in their dream destination, 72 percent of childless millennials would delay having kids and 71 percent of single respondents would postpone getting married. The old order of getting married, buying a house, and having kids by age 30 hasn’t been the norm for a long time. Millennials are already delaying these life milestones, so it’s no surprise the survey finds that respondents will push marriage and children back even further to increase their professional value and advance their careers.

Money continues to be a main driver of relocation. Sixty-five percent say money would make them more likely to move to a foreign country for work, compared to 35 percent who would relocate for the experience. HR leaders need to understand that money is still part of the equation. There still may be a paternalistic sense among organizations that employees are getting a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will make them more valuable when they return, but it’s also about pay in order for organizations to remain competitive and attract top talent.

The preference for the types of relocation benefits varies. Seventy-eight percent of millennials would rather make all the travel and housing decisions themselves using a company stipend. Millennials have grown up in an age of unprecedented technological advancement, and they’re extremely comfortable using web-based tools, social media, and smartphones to manage their lives. And relocation may be no different to them. Self-service is far more prevalent with domestic moves because there is a higher level of complexity and risk with international moves. HR and mobility professionals will always have a role in relocating employees because they still need to provide guidance and handle issues, but, companies—especially those that take a lump sum approach— should embrace their employees’ desire for self-servicing and making their own decisions. It’s the future of corporate mobility and an opportunity for mobility professionals, unhindered by the need to manage all the details for all transferees, to rise to more strategic roles.

The findings of this survey are clear: Millennials are ready and willing to move, and HR leaders should build mobility programs with these findings in mind. Any HR leader trying to attract, retain, and develop highly talented millennial employees should think about creating a short-term rotational mobility program that gives employees exposure to different parts of the country or the globe, and, more importantly, different sides of the business. Rotational career and client development programs offer short-term stints across the globe. These programs are geared toward attracting high-performing, up-and-coming millennials who are willing to relocate, have a desire to enhance their professional experience, and are comfortable delaying planting roots.

Tim O’Shea is vice president of consulting services at Graebel Relocation.

Posted December 15, 2016 in Relocation

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