How to Manage Employee Relocation

There are plenty of reasons your company might consider relocating employees from one place to another. Perhaps one office location has a smaller candidate pool than other cities. Or, some businesses want their leaders to have an international perspective, so they send them abroad. To that end, a new city or country can help keep the most talented staffers engaged — and relocation is an excellent way to keep them on board for longer.

No matter the reason you’re considering relocating your staff, though, there is a multitude of considerations to make before settling on a plan for doing so. Here’s how to manage the process to make it easy on both you and your employees who are making a big move.

1. Come up With a Relocation Package

To incentivize new or existing employees to move for a job, most companies offer a relocation package. Depending on the level of the job, that package will be different — it could be a flat dollar amount to cover moving expenses, or it could include any of the following benefits.

  • Home-finding trip: Some companies will fly employees to their new hometowns and pay for a hotel so they can find a new place to live ahead of the move.
  • Home costs: You could chip in to cover closing costs, commissions and other payments workers will have to make so they can sell one property and purchase another.
  • Travel transportation, moving and unpacking costs: Does the employee have to drive or fly to their new job? Your company can pay for the trip, as well as moving and shipping costs required to get their possessions, furniture, cars, etc., from point A to point B. Then, you could pay for movers who will pack and unpack each home, too.
  • Temporary accommodation: Whether you put your new employee in a hotel or corporate housing, you should cover the cost until they manage to find a permanent residence.
  • Job finder’s fee: When an employee relocates, their family will likely come along, too. Rather than leaving a spouse in the lurch to find a new job, your relocation package could include funds that’ll help with their job search.
  • Cultural resources: If your staffer’s relocating to a new country, you could help them find the right schools for their children, and you could cover language lessons so they have an easier time communicating. Plus, an in-office, bilingual mentor could make it easier to settle in.

Of course, these are just examples of what your package might include. Think about all of the must-dos that come with moving to build a comprehensive moving package that covers everything from hiring movers to finding a place to stay.

2. Make Sure You Have the Right to Relocate Staff

Depending on the country where you work or where you want to send your employees, relocation would have to be something agreed upon in their contract — in other words, they must have signed onto a mobility clause before you can ask them to move. Even with such an agreement in place, you still have to provide your staffer with ample time and resources to make their move possible.

Without such a contractual clause, it’s up to the employee to decide whether or not they’ll move to another location. As previously mentioned, you can sweeten the deal with a hearty relocation package that’ll defray or completely remove all costs of moving. If the location to which you plan to move them is not the most appealing, a boost in salary or benefits can be enough to entice them. You can also pay to send them out to the new city or country for a trial visit — perhaps a week spent working on location will help them see the value of relocating.

Sometimes, though, you and your employee won’t be able to come up with a solution. Perhaps their current office will close, which is why you want to send staffers to different offices. If they choose not to relocate, you have no option but to lay them off. If the next possible working location happens to be far away or require a full relocation, they can refuse and rightfully expect a severance package in some places — make sure you know what you have to do to legally satisfy this requirement, depending on your country.

3. Consider Potential Alternatives

Nowadays, a location closure doesn’t have to mean an employee either moves or loses their job. Technology makes it possible for staffers to work just about anywhere — you might want to consider remote-working opportunities as an alternative for those unwilling to try a new city or country.

One of the biggest pros of remote working is that you can hire people from anywhere. You can gather the high-quality talent you need from around the country or world, and you can save money on the relocation package you might otherwise need to hire them. Instead, you only need to provide them with the technology required to log into the system and work. Employees tend to love remote working, since they can avoid the busy commute, set their hours, set up their workspace the way they prefer, etc.

Of course, if your company relies on collaboration, remote working might not be a viable option for team members. Plus, some staffers note they feel lonely or bored working remotely, and others will have trouble focusing or putting in the required hours when there’s no manager to oversee their daily activities. So, make sure your potential remote-working employees have the right character to handle such a responsibility.

Leave It up to Them

Whether you want to pitch a relocation or a remote-working opportunity, it’s ultimately up to your staff to decide what’s best. So, do your research, build an incentive package and make sure you’re legally in the clear — then, offer the job. Either way, you can feel confident you did your part, and you’ve chosen a path that’s right for your company.