Here's what you can do to make relocation a better experience for your new employee.
After a lengthy search, you've finally found the right candidate for a key job opening, but they're going to have to move. Here's what you can do to help your new hire relocate.
The first thing to figure out is whether or not your business already has a relocation policy in place. Or, if you're the business owner and this is your first experience hiring someone who will relocate, you need to decide if you're willing to provide any sort of relocation assistance or moving allowance and exactly what that will include.
Workers are willing to move for the right job
A recent study from staffing firm Robert Half found that 62% of the more than 2,800 workers they surveyed would relocate for the right job. It also asked more than 2,800 senior managers about their relocation packages and found that 34% have increased their offerings, though 30% don't provide this resource at all.
You're not required to offer a relocation package, but if you don't, it might be more difficult to recruit top talent, as a candidate may decide that the expense and hassle of moving offsets the benefits of working for you instead of their current employer.
Whether you offer a relocation package or not, you want to be upfront with this information and communicate it to your candidate early – don't wait for them to ask about it. This lets them realistically consider what resources they'll have to assist with the move as they make their decision to accept or decline your job offer.
If you plan to offer relocation assistance, you (or your HR specialist, if you have one on staff) need to discuss the specifics with your candidate after you extend a formal job offer. You should detail what your relocation package includes in writing, but it's not enough to email it or mention it to your prospective hire in passing when you extend the job offer; take the time go over it on a phone call to ensure there aren't any misunderstandings about what is and isn't included.
Relocation assistance makes it easier for top talent to accept your job offer
The benefits of offering a relocation program is that it increases the likelihood that your top candidates will accept the position with your company and feel good about their decision – and your business – as they start their new job. It also reduces the chance that they'll back out, which saves you the time it would take to look for a qualified candidate all over again.
Here are some of the things you can do to help your new hire relocate.
Fly them out for a visit or two. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests offering site visits to your new hire get them excited about moving to your city and to give them the chance to start looking for housing. "Relocation programs usually allow site visits so the employee, and possibly a spouse, can see the new office, tour the community, and learn about schools, housing, and other local services. Policies can set the lengths of these visits, but a minimum of two days is common."
Provide a relocation allowance. If you can afford it, offer your new hire an allowance to offset some of their moving expenses. Companies provide this money either upfront as a lump sum payment or as a reimbursement after the employee submits receipts for certain relocation costs and travel expenses.
Be flexible with the start date. Yes, you need your new employee to start as soon as possible, but if they're moving for the job, it's probably going take longer than the normal two weeks that you would expect from a local hire. Talk with your new employee about what relocating entails, and set a realistic timeline for when they'll be on location and ready to work.
CapRelo, a relocation management company, says you should regularly compare your relocation package with those offered by your competition. Here are some of the features that are commonly included:
- Assistance selling a home or breaking a lease
- House-hunting trips, at least one but preferably two
- Temporary housing for 30 days
- Packing services
- Moving services and insurance
- Transportation reimbursement
- Allowance for moving-related expenses
Some relocation packages also include allowances for temporary living expenses, storage costs for household goods, child care costs and trips home. They may help find employment for a spouse and schools for children. If the employee's home sells for less than the purchase price, the company may also provide a loss-on-sale allowance.
What if your newly relocated employee quits?
Relocation costs can be very expensive for employers. A blog post for TRC Global Mobility cites a study from Worldwide ERC that says the "average cost for a company to relocate a current homeowner employee within the U.S. is $79,425." Even if you don't spend nearly that much money to help your new hire move, it's not unreasonable to worry that your new hire will quit shortly after they're settled in your city, and you'll lose the money you invested in their relocation package.
Before you disburse any relocation funds – either as a lump sum or a reimbursement – to your new employee, have them sign a relocation contract or repayment agreement that says if they leave your employment, or are fired with cause, before a certain amount of time with the company (typically two years), they will be required to repay the money you spent to relocate them.
What if your business can't afford to offer a relocation package?
Not having a relocation package isn't necessarily a no-go for prospective employees. Robert Half Senior Executive Director Paul McDonald says, "Besides receiving corporate incentives to move, there are a number of professional and personal reasons workers may opt for a change of scenery, including a higher salary, better perks, more affordable cost of living or advanced job title." So, if you're lucky, your candidate may have been hoping to move to your city anyway and just needed to have a job lined up before taking that step.
One thing you can do to make your new employee's relocation easier – that won't cost anything – is to give them local insight into their new city. Here are some examples of the types of information you could share.
Housing advice. If you know a good real estate agent, introduce them. Also, share advice about the local real estate market, such as average home or apartments costs, and tips about which parts of the city have good neighborhoods for different demographics. For instance, if they have kids, tell them where the best schools are, or if they're single, tell them which part of the city has the best social scene for young professionals. Also, if any are sketchy areas that should be avoided, that's good information to share too.
Or, if your employee won't have time to rent an apartment or purchase a house before their first day in the office, recommend nice extended-stay hotels or help them find an Airbnb rental in a good neighborhood.
Transportation advice. Even with the handy navigation apps on our phones like Waze and Google Maps, a local's tips on the best ways to get around are welcome. What are the easiest and fastest ways to get to the office from their new home?
If you live in a drivable city, are there roads to avoid at certain times of day? If there's no parking at the office, what are your best options?
If you live in a city that relies on public transportation, what are the closest subway, bus, or train stops; how far are they from the office; and how much time will it take to get to the office? Do they need to arrive at a certain time to avoid rush hour? Are there certain subway lines or bus routes that are notoriously unreliable?
Recommendations for nearby stores and services. Sure, your employee could research this stuff on Yelp, but having a local's take can save them some time. Share the following helpful information with your new employee.
- Restaurants for various cuisines and restaurant types (fast, takeout, casual, bar, nice)
- Grocery stores: Which stores are the cheapest? Which has the best produce? Which has the best deli?
- Popular local stores
- Malls: Which one is the closest? Which mall has the best stores?
- Banks: Which one has the best rates? Which bank has the most ATMs or branches?
Ideas for things to do and places to see. Help your employee discover the best of what your city has to offer. Share information about popular venues for upcoming sporting events, concerts, plays, or other cultural events; museums; theme parks; zoos and other attractions; and national or regional parks.