Annual research shows that organizations continue to leverage relocation to fill talent gaps.
By Debbie Bolla
For organizations aiming to have the right person in the right role at the right time, mobility programs can provide a valuable opportunity to fill key skill gaps. And these programs also benefit the workforce; relocation offers employees the chance to develop additional skills and gain sought-after experience. Companies are adopting a variety of approaches to relocation, often driven by market factors. For example, many are considering short-term assignments, international transfers, and rotational programs to hit their business goals.
The annual Atlas Corporate Relocation Survey looks at demographic, geopolitical, and economic shifts to understand the dynamics of the industry. This year’s research shows five different trends organizations should take into consideration when designing their programs.
1. A wide variety of factors impact relocation volumes. At the heart of it, securing qualified talent has been a main driver of mobility programs. The survey looks at several others, including company growth, the state of the economy, the real estate market, and political conditions. Findings include:
- Company growth this year remains flat at 39 percent, with the same percentage of firms reporting that their relocation volume is impacted by new offices or global expansion.
- The economy is a consideration for relocation volume, as reported by 21 percent of respondents.
- The real estate market is having a greater impact on volume, according to 19 percent of business leaders, up from 11 percent in the previous year.
- Over the last five years, political and regulatory issues, including visa/immigration restrictions and Brexit, have become a rising trend.
2. Approaches to relocation assignments remain diverse. In keeping with years past, 80 percent of relocation professionals manage domestic policies and 78 percent manage international relocations. Other policies include permanent international transfers (66 percent); short-term/temporary assignments (59 percent); international localization (57 percent); extended business travel policies (49 percent); and long-distance commuter arrangements (44 percent).
Relocation programs often have two or more of the above policies and typically operate in levels or tiers. Levels are determined by a variety of factors, but the main two are job/grade level and position/job title.
3. Organizations continue to offer robust benefits. This year’s survey took a deeper dive into what benefits organizations provide to transferees. It found that the top components are:
- travel expenses-final move (54 percent);
- temporary housing (53 percent); and
- household goods shipping (50 percent).
Large firms are more likely to deliver cost as a core benefit, with nearly half offering it as fixed benefit.
4. Family concerns are the main reason employees are declining transfer opportunities. For the sixth year in a row, respondents name family as the top reason for not accepting a relocation opportunity. Coming in second is employment of spouses/partners. These results indicate that employees most often pass on relocations because they have a dual-income household and family commitments. While housing and mortgage concerns remain a reason to decline relocation opportunities, they are at their lowest point in more than 15 years, according to the survey.
5. Incentives are often necessary to overcome relocation concerns. Trending for the last five years, organizations are expanding their offerings to include incentives. These are delivered for some assignments to encourage potential transferees to enter the relocation program. Popular incentives include relocation/sign-on bonuses and extended temporary housing.