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Atlas® Van Lines Study Reveals the Pandemic Has Been Main Driver Behind Career Relocation Decisions

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — One of the nation’s leading movers, Atlas® Van Lines, launched its annual Corporate Relocation Survey, revealing ongoing COVID-19 impacts, economic shifts, including inflation and housing prices, and personal and workplace priorities as the main factors driving career relocation decisions. This is the 55th edition of the Corporate Relocation Survey, the industry’s first and longest-running investigation into corporate relocation policies and practices.

For the analysis, participating firms are categorized by size:

  • Small: fewer than 500 employees (28%)
  • Midsize: 500-4,999 employees (49%)
  • Large: 5,000+ employees (23%)

The relocation industry is still feeling the effects of the pandemic and its logistical complexities, but in comparison to 2021, relocation volumes and budgets are returning to historic norms for almost half of all companies. Of the 533 industry decision-makers who completed this year’s online survey, 60% reported increased domestic relocations, 48% reported increased international relocations, and 57% reported an increase in relocation budgets. Below are additional trends and findings identified in this year’s Corporate Relocation Survey.

Ongoing Pandemic Impact
While COVID-19 dropped in importance for employees’ relocation consideration, falling behind concerns around family issues, spouse or partner employment, and cost of living, it remains the main external impact affecting corporate relocation. Key findings from surveyed firms surrounding COVID-19 include:

  • Companies reporting COVID-19 as their most significant external influence has decreased 6%, from 62% in 2020 to 56% in 2021.
  • Only 26% of companies reported that COVID-19 caused a failed relocation, compared to 44% in 2020—an 18% decrease.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine has set the precedent for companies to begin requiring return-to-work procedures, with 47% requiring the vaccine before a return to the office, and the same amount planning on a full return to work.
  • 43% of companies plan on implementing hybrid arrangements for employees.
  • 52% of all companies are hesitating to make drastic policy updates in anticipation of changes through 2022 and beyond.

Shifting Economics and Priorities
Today, a large portion of the workforce is made up of Gen X and Millennial generations who are making their career decisions in a shifting economic landscape, where inflation and housing prices are major influences. Workers today are still placing emphasis on spousal assistance, specifically in relation to services a company provides to help ease relocation transitions from a career perspective, and workplace flexibility when considering a career relocation. Firms indicated the following trends behind employee relocation decisions:

  • Family issues/ties (51%) and spouse/partner’s employment (34%) are the most frequent causes of declined domestic relocations, and factor in the top four concerns for international relocations.
  • Despite 79% of companies offering spouse assistance, only 1 in 5 employees accept this assistance, despite the importance of dual incomes.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 relocations are declined because of a spouse or partner’s employment.
  • Cost of living is responsible for nearly 1 in 3 failed relocations. The real estate market poses a serious concern for relocating employers domestically.

Global Conflict
Furthermore, with global conflict on the rise, so are concerns around its impact on corporate relocation. As security and economic issues continue to be felt far and wide by the Russia-Ukraine conflict in particular, international relocations will likely be impacted by employees’ ability and willingness to relocate. In 2021, most internationally relocating employees cited safety concerns around conflict as a main reason to decline relocation and this will continue to be a factor in 2022 and beyond.

For this year’s complete survey results, visit the Atlas Van Lines Corporate Relocation Survey results online at https://www.atlasvanlines.com/resources/corporate-relocation-survey/2022. A complete report booklet of critical findings, charts, and the comprehensive survey is also available for download here.

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