Showing hesitant employees the benefit of relocation

Being paid to relocate your professional and personal life to another part of the world may seem like a dream come true for many, and employers today certainly recognise this.

When we spoke to over 250 global HR decision-makers earlier this year about their attitudes and approach to employee relocation, the vast majority of them – 84% – linked relocations to improvements in employee productivity. It’s unsurprising, then, that so many are now using relocation programmes as a tool to engage and retain their star performers.

However, while many employees will jump at the opportunity to start a new professional chapter, and build a new life away from home, for others, this voyage of discovery can be quite daunting. In fact, almost two fifths (39%) of HR decision-makers agreed that this was a key barrier to the success of their relocation assignments.

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So, why the hesitancy?

While it is almost universally agreed that relocation is important for an employee’s development as well as offering benefits for the business, it’s clear that this fear to take the leap and embark on an assignment is standing in the way. From the employee perspective, this is understandable. Not everyone is born with wanderlust and the desire to leave their home and adventure into in a far-flung corner of the globe.

It is telling that the age group with which relocation is most popular is 26-to-35-years-old. Older employees will have a degree of permanence they may be reluctant to leave behind, and may also feel like they need more social support to overcome cultural and language barriers.

However, relocation can be difficult for employees to avoid when working for big organisations, in specific sectors or at different career stages. Business is now more global than ever, and for some, there is a real need to relocate employees in order to meet key objectives, such as establishing a presence in new markets or winning new business. In these cases, hesitancy to relocate is seen as a major barrier to how effectively employers can develop and retain their staff. For the majority (59%) of HR decision-makers, this has even led to termination of contracts.

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Providing a helping hand for employees throughout their relocation process is therefore crucial, in order to avoid this worst-case scenario.

Giving employees the incentive

We have found that a diverse, inclusive relocation policy is vital, encouraging those who don’t see themselves as ‘relocation material’ in the traditional mould to look at themselves differently.

Clear communication at all touchpoints is also imperative, outlining available help such as groups on social media and other expat networks that may assist them in assimilating into their host country. Financial and mental health support that is available for family members who relocate with loved ones should also be highlighted.

How should businesses handle employee relocation?

While relocation is not a process that everyone in an organisation is open to, for those with an open mind towards relocation, the policy can be a key factor in cementing the decision to undertake an assignment. If it is filled with real examples and positive first-hand experiences of relocation, it brings the benefits of an overseas assignment to life in glorious Technicolor.

Everyone is happy with relocation

Mobility is something that can benefit both the employee, in terms of it being an enriching experience that they will always look back fondly on, and their employer, as it has been shown to increase employee productivity. It is not something to be rushed into though; engaging with and understanding the employee’s point of view is vital if the project is to be a success. They and any potential reluctance they may have to relocate needs to be at the centre of the plan rather than the business’s needs. Yet when it is completed carefully and with the right people involved and engaged, relocation bears fruit.

By Caitlin Pyett, drector of account management, Asia, Crown World Mobility