Hiring & Recruiting, Recruiting News

Employee Relocation Is Back. Sort of

Hiring companies casting a wider net will likely find job seekers more open to relocation, at least in comparison to recent years. But relocation still presents recruiting challenges, according to research from moving company Atlas Van Lines.

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Atlas surveys human resources and relocation/mobility departments at small, medium, and large companies each year. Its 50th Annual Corporate Relocation Survey provides a look at the factors currently influencing employee relocation.

Why Companies Offer Relocation

Employers turn to relocation for various reasons.

In 2016, the top three factors affecting relocation were:

  • lack of local talent;
  • expansion efforts; and
  • company growth.

Lack of local talent is the top factor, with 44 percent of survey respondents citing it. Expansion is a close second, at 43 percent, and company growth comes in at 41 percent.

Atlas points out that company growth remains similar to previous recessionary levels, despite maintaining a substantial increase over 2009 (41 percent vs. 24 percent). Slow growth suggests companies will keep a close eye on expenses.

Be that as it may, most companies participating in the survey report improved financial performances over the past seven years. As a result, relocation volumes and budgets continue to increase.

Why Employees Decline Relocation

Yet, not all employees are open to relocation.

In 2016, the top three reasons for employees declining relocation were:

  • family issues/ties;
  • spouse/partner employment; and
  • personal reasons (not disclosed).

Other top reasons include:

  • no desire to relocate;
  • cost of living in new location; and
  • destination location.

Interestingly, housing/mortgage concerns, a major factor for declining relocation during the recession, has fallen in the last four years. Atlas notes that it is now within prerecession levels for the second time since 2007—and for the first time across company size.

Attempting to Alleviate Concerns

Companies make an effort to address employees’ relocation concerns.

Spouse/partner assistance, previously offered by only large firms, is now offered at companies of all sizes.

At small and midsize firms, this typically takes the form of networking assistance, while large firms usually offer outplacement assistance and career services. Companies also may offer assistance with resume preparation and reimbursement for expenses related to spouse/partner career transition.

Employees appear to appreciate this assistance. Large firms report that 26 percent of employees relocating with a spouse/partner took advantage of assistance last year, while the usage rate at small and midsize firms was about 33 percent.

Even so, motivating employees to relocate is not easy. Nearly two-thirds of companies responding to the survey saw employees decline relocation last year, which Atlas indicates is at the high end historically.