Relocating Employees

Throughout the global pandemic, many companies switched to remote work, and this seemingly worked well for those companies that adapted. But for other companies, on-site employees are still necessary, and they’ve had to relocate employees to central branches while closing down other branches.

Of course, relocating employees isn’t an easy task, even if we’re in the tail-end of the pandemic, with travel restrictions being lifted and retail business hours returning to normal.

This article discusses five major challenges that companies face when relocating employees in this post-pandemic world, as well as ways to overcome them.

1) Budget costs for relocating employees.

When employees are asked to relocate, it is the company that reimburses their travel costs. Relocation packages are typically made available, which fully cover all of the employee’s expenses.

However, not all companies have the budget to do this, or know how to negotiate the best possible relocation packages that benefit all parties involved. In these situations, it’s best to consult a relocation specialist, such as a private company that specializes in transitioning employees to their new homes.

While this may seem like an added, unnecessary expense, it actually saves companies money in the long run. Why? Because they save the time and resources spent on trying to manage all of the details themselves and can instead focus on other critical business needs.

The benefits of utilizing a relocation specialist are three-fold. They can manage the relocation process from start to finish, ensuring a smooth transition and minimizing the stress and anxiety that comes with being uprooted, from the employee’s perspective.

Secondly, they can help the employee transition to their new home with ease, and establish a sense of familiarity with the new environment. This significantly helps reduce the impact of another issue we’ll talk about later in this article.

Finally, relocation specialists often have specialized training and resources, and can provide customized solutions to meet your specific company needs.

2) Incentivizing employees to relocate.

It’s pretty well-known that workforces have experienced a number of hurdles in recent years. Two major contributing factors are The Great Resignation, and talent shortages in critical areas such as software development. This has left companies to seek unconventional solutions to retain and attract top talent.

Thus, incentivizing employees to relocate must be delicately balanced with acknowledging that it’s currently an employee’s market, and so negotiations favor the employee.

Going into negotiations over relocation incentives with this in mind can help employers figure out exactly what the employee needs (or expects) in terms of compensation, and whether or not it’s worth meeting those expectations.

When it comes to relocation bonuses, company and employee expectations should be aligned. If you offer a one-time, short-term bonus to encourage employees to relocate, but you don’t have a career progression strategy for the employee to pursue, it could backfire.

Thus, relocation incentives should not only include financial compensation, but also include training benefits and professional development opportunities. If an employee is willing to relocate, it shows they feel a sense of commitment to your company, and this should be fostered through investment into the employee’s growth and development.

3) Cultural differences between the new location and current workplace.

No two companies are the same, and so even within the same industry, there’s bound to be significant differences between an employee’s current workplace and the new location.

For example, there’s a high chance that the employee’s new workplace has an established hierarchy within the office, its own cliques and social groups, and an employee may feel like a complete outsider, even though they’re still within the same company.

To address this issue, it’s a good idea to send an employee on visits to the intended branch, get them familiarized and engaged with the office team, and then provide them with the tools to make the transition as seamless as possible.

As mentioned earlier, this is an area that a relocation specialist can help alleviate. They can make introductions to potential coworkers and upper management, find the right physical office space for the employee, and work closely with the employer to create a smooth transition.

But this extends beyond office culture as well, as the relocated employee may also need some tips on settling into their new home and local culture as well. Local entertainment, eateries, and landmarks are all things that can be provided by the relocation specialist to make settling into a new city as easy as possible.

4) Managers ignoring company policy.

Companies have policies for a reason, and when managers go outside of company policy, it sets precedent. For example, say your company has a policy of providing up to $5,000 in relocation package benefits, but a manager decides to give a high-level employee a $10,000 relocation package.

When other employees catch wind of this, they’ll feel as though their own packages are inadequate. They’ll also think that your company is willing to cut corners, to their detriment.

If employees know that the company feels it’s ok to bend company policy, there’s a good chance they’ll be more inclined to bend the rules too. Resentment towards employees who receive preferential treatment and enhanced benefits can also turn employees into a disgruntled and unproductive workforce.

This is a surefire way to lose employees, and your HR department should be scrutinizing managers to make sure that they’re following company policies.

5) Legal compliances

Aside from adherence to internal policy, compliance with state and national laws pertaining to taxes, visas, and immigration can complicate matters further.

While it’s not always easy to find answers to these questions, especially without the help of an outside company, it’s important to keep in mind that relocating employees can become an increasingly convoluted process.

For example, a divorced employee who has custody of children. Even if the employee wanted to relocate, they may be barred from doing so by family court order. It’s important to have a relocation program that accounts for these complications.

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