Annual research shows that flexibility and transferee support are keys to a superior relocation experience.
By Debbie Bolla
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the global workforce, organizations had a clear focus on cost containment and flexibility when it came to their relocation programs. Relocation remains a main strategy for filling skills gaps and placing top performers in the right locations to support the business. With this in mind, organizations and HR leaders are putting the transferee first when it comes to the relocation experience.
The 2020 Atlas Corporate Relocation Survey looks at demographic, geopolitical, and economic shifts to understand the dynamics of the industry. This year’s research shows four different trends organizations should take into consideration when designing their programs.
1. Relocation’s volumes fluctuate depending on a variety factors. Lack of qualified talent continues to be the main driver of relocation, as reported by 41% respondents in this year’s survey. Others include company growth, the economy, the real estate market, and political conditions. An analysis of these factors concludes that:
- The perceived impact of company growth fell notably from 39% to 28%.
- Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 28% of firms cited economic conditions as a factor in relocation decisions.
- The uncertainty of Brexit still looms: 51% of midsize firms believe Brexit will increase administrative complexity in the U.K.
2. Flexibility takes center stage. Along with other areas of the business, relocation programs need to be adaptable to meet the needs of transferees. Assignment types flexing their muscles include short-term/temporary assignments (61%), extended business travel (53%), and long distance commuter benefits (43%). The survey identified the most popular and core components of a fixed/flex policy, including travel expenses for a final move (53%), temporary housing (51%), travel expenses for home finding trips (48%), and household goods shipping (47%).
3. Cost containment is top of mind. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations ensured their relocation programs were as cost effective as possible. The most popular approach, as reported by 40% of respondents, is using lump sum payments for relocations. In fact, for the past eight years, the survey shows that one in four relocations were lump-sum payment only. Lump sums are often used for travel expenses, miscellaneous expense allowances, household goods shipping/storage, and temporary housing.
4. Family remains a priority. Considerations for family and spouses/partners are the main reasons employees decline relocation opportunities. In fact, family was cited by 52% of respondents and 45% of respondents pointed to spouse/partner employment. In response, 66% of HR leaders report that their organizations provide assistance to spouses/partners in finding employment. Providing networking assistance (37%) and resume review (35%) are also popular approaches. Interestingly, an estimated one in 10 relocations in 2019 involved an employee in a caregiving role. So, it’s not surprising that a record 66% of organizations offer benefits for elder care. These strategies help organizations show their support for relocating employees.