Relocating Employees: How to Ease the Transition

Relocating an employee is a complicated process for your company, the individual, and their family. Among other things, your employee must find a new home, get acquainted with a new community, master a new job, and build a new support network – all at the same time.

If your company has a relocation policy or package, it may provide assistance with pre-move considerations such as financial compensation, finding new housing, and hiring a reputable moving company. However, many experts believe that the hardest part of relocating comes after the moving truck is unpacked. Individuals wrestle with their own challenges and parents struggle to ensure their family is happy while trying to adapt, settle in, and feel at home.

The stress and strain of uprooting their lives and starting over in an unfamiliar city or town can impact employees for up to a year after they move. Your HR team can help ease the transition by lending a hand with some of the more burdensome post-relocation tasks on your employee’s plate, and make it easier for him or her to focus their attention on tackling work-related projects.

Taking care of essentials

From filing insurance claims for items damaged during the move to activating local utilities and cable service, your newly relocated employee will have to juggle an endless list of tedious “to-do’s” once they move in. A local relocation service like Suburban Settlers can work with your employee to help with home setup, including recommending local handymen, arranging service appointments, and waiting for installers to arrive. Our custom relocation plans will help lighten the employee’s load, reduce stress and fatigue, and minimize distractions.

Finding the right schools and childcare

For employees with families, ensuring the wellbeing of their children will be a primary concern throughout the relocation process. Any risk that the kids will be negatively affected can cause stress to escalate. Finding the right schools or organizing childcare will go a long way towards establishing a regular routine and making it easier for the entire family to settle in. Suburban Settlers can be instrumental in doing the required research on your employee’s behalf, making qualified recommendations, and organizing onsite visits either before or after moving day.

Getting the lay of the land.

Once your employee has moved in and unpacked, they are likely to feel lost in their new town or city. The process of getting to know the neighborhood – from figuring out the best places to shop and eat to finding a new doctor, a dentist, or veterinarian – can seem pretty overwhelming.

Your employee can certainly find plenty of information online about their future destination. Recommendations from local coworkers also might be useful, but their tastes or interests may not be a fit for the relocating employee. Truth is, there is nothing like first-hand experience for conveying what the new community has to offer.

That’s where a service like Suburban Settlers comes in. We’ll create a customized roadmap to all the local resources that match your employee’s lifestyle and unique needs. We include detailed information ranging from schools, doctors, and local service professionals to museums, parks, and gyms.

We also offer a “confidence tour”, personally escorting your employee and a guest through their new community and the surrounding area. We show them the best restaurants, retail, and recreation options, as well as places locals frequent. Your employees get the benefit of our insider knowledge, and exploring the neighborhood quickly turns strange surroundings into something far more familiar.

Making new connections.

The change and uncertainty of relocating can trigger anxiety as your employee wrestles with getting used to a new lifestyle and establishing new relationships. Some people dive headfirst into their new environment, but others need more time to settle in. Still others may experience a phenomenon known as relocation depression as they mourn the loss of the familiar life they left behind.

Connecting with others is a key factor in relieving anxiety and sadness – and your HR team can help kick-start the process even before the move. If your employee is relocating to an existing office, connect him or her with coworkers or business colleagues in the new location. Encourage the employee to ask friends and acquaintances if they know anyone in the new town or city, or spread the word about their transition through their social media networks.

Once your employee and their family have moved into their new home, Suburban Settlers can help take things a step further. We’ll recommend groups, clubs, and volunteer opportunities to match the employee with people who share common interests. We will even make personal introductions. People often feel more at ease getting out and making new friends when they have the company of a familiar face.

Relocating can be an exciting opportunity, but dealing with post-move logistics and adjusting to new surroundings can make it extremely difficult for employees to focus on performing well in their new job. Knowing what matters most to your staff – and partnering with local resources like Suburban Settlers to address these issues – will save your employees time, reduce on-the-job downtime, and help them feel truly at home in their new community.


Overcoming Employee Resistance to Relocation

Each year, nearly seven million people in the United States relocate because of their work. Job changes, restructuring, and moving a corporate office often involve relocation. However, employees are not always willing and eager to make the move.

The relocation process is a major source of disruption and stress, and it can cause employees’ health, workplace engagement, and productivity to suffer. When families are involved, the transition brings with it even more upheaval.

To overcome employee resistance to relocating, more and more companies are offering incentives and benefits to help employees manage the logistical and financial hurdles of moving. Perhaps just as important to easing dislocation and making relocation more attractive is providing resources and emotional support for employees through the ups and downs of the entire moving process – not just during the physical move.

Why Employees Decline Relocation

According to the 2017 Corporate Relocation Survey conducted by Atlas Van Lines, the top three reasons for relocation resistance are family issues, spouse or partner employment, and concerns about housing and mortgage costs. While mid-size and large companies are more affected than small firms, nearly two-thirds of firms surveyed saw employees decline relocation last year.

Although the 20% increase in employee reluctance reported in the 2017 survey is slightly below peaks of 2009 (29%), and 2014 (28%), it is above average post-recession levels of 11% to 18%. For companies trying to motivate employees to relocate, this means continued pressure to address the key factors behind the resistance.

Providing Practical Support

One of the typical first steps in overcoming resistance to relocation is providing employees with financial incentives. These can include salary adjustments based on cost-of-living differentials, bonuses, and loan assistance. Statistics show that 38% of large companies routinely pay cost-of-living adjustments to employees who are moving to higher-priced locations. Others assist transferees with loans for mortgage down payments, preferred interest rates on mortgages, or a combination of mortgage assistance and cost of living adjustments.

Many companies also offer relocation benefits to help alleviate the logistical stresses of moving. From finding temporary or permanent housing to hiring packers and movers, assuming these tasks allows employees to focus on the job transition rather than being overwhelmed by planning and executing their move. The benefits to employers range from less downtime and more productivity to more satisfied employees with a happier home life and greater sense of wellbeing.

Moving the Family, Not Just the Employee

In many cases, your employee isn’t moving alone – there is a spouse, partner, and/or children involved. Family members can make or break the success of the relocation. In fact, research indicates that family issues are the number one reason for relocation resistance.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry notes that relocating to a new community may be one of the most stressful experiences a family can face. Children thrive on consistency, so moving can be an unsettling experience as they are faced with adapting to a major life change. In general, the older the child, the more difficulty he or she will have with the move to due the loss of important friendships.

It is critical that companies provide support for employees and their families throughout the relocation process. One of the most important corporate relocation incentives is helping find jobs for working spouses of transferring employees. Many couples cannot manage without two incomes, which is why the possible loss of career opportunities for spouses ranks high on the list of employee concerns.In the past, companies often used a do-it-yourself approach to helping “trailing spouses” find employment in the new location. Today, HR professionals understand that it is easier to persuade people to move when their spouses know what job options are available. In fact, more than half of U.S. corporations offer career counseling or job-search assistance. Career counseling programs can add value by saving companies time, money, and productivity when it is determined in advance that a relocation is not feasible.

Ensuring Employee Well Being

Companies of all shapes and sizes have implemented employee wellness initiatives, recognizing that investing in their workforce both professionally and personally is critical to building loyalty and improving productivity.

This focus on employee wellbeing is vital when it comes to helping employees manage the stress and strain of relocating. Leaving one’s comfort zone and starting over in a new city can take a tremendous emotional toll, and the impact can extend well beyond the employee and his or her family. The employee’s job performance may suffer and the company may struggle to retain their relocated talent. This can impact an employee’s – and the company’s – long-term success, making it a critical issue for companies to address.

HR teams would be wise to consider including wellness support in their relocation policies or packages. This can range from providing staff with detailed knowledge of their future community and surrounding areas to ensuring mental wellness experts are available and accessible.

Sending an employee on a pilot trip get a feel for their new office and neighborhood can help ease the transition and allow them to get excited about what the relocation has to offer. Specialized services like Suburban Settlers can provide geographical introduction tours, contacts for local services, and referrals to support and care options for children, adults, and seniors. Suburban Settlers also connects employees and their families with newcomer groups and even makes introductions to like-minded people in the new community.

Moving can be a wonderful opportunity for employees and their families, but the benefits of relocating can easily be overshadowed by the perceived challenges and pitfalls. Companies must continue to craft comprehensive relocation policies that help alleviate not just the logistical and financial burdens, but also the emotional hurdles of moving. This will set employees up for success and contribute to creating a responsive and healthy company culture.