Moving On Up: How to Make Sure You're Relocating the Right Employee

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Relocation is a difficult process for both the employee and the employer, but it doesn't have to be if you follow these steps.

Ideally, you'll find the best employees living two blocks from your office. They have a 5-minute walking commute, and that, alone, will keep them happy in their job for years. I mean, who can give up a job that is only two blocks away?

Unfortunately, that happens only once in a blue moon. It's more likely that the perfect employee lives in New Jersey, and you're in Wisconsin, which means relocation. Sometimes relocation fails and your new employee moves home sooner than you'd like. Can you prevent that from happening? Well, not entirely, but there are some things you can do to make success likely. Here's how.

Be Painfully Honest

You don't want to lose this great candidate who has just the skills you need. So, you promise the moon and the stars and tell him that the sun will also be available after a couple years. Then the person packs up the family, moves and comes to work, only to find out that everything was a lie.

That big project you talked about in the interview project? It doesn't have funding.

The family friendly lifestyle? Well, if family friendly means you can get home before your teenagers at least twice a week. 

Listen, it's tempting to downplay the bad things when you're trying to hire. Most people do it—but don't.

Be very honest.

Tell your candidate about the flaws and imperfections of your company. Explain where the politics will get in the way, and that the workload will stink for the first 6 months because you're so backlogged. Sure, you may scare some people off, but when someone says yes, it will be the right person. They won't feel cheated and lied to. A person who knows what he's getting into will be more likely to stay in a new location.

Related Article: 4 Steps to Drafting and Training an All-Star Team

Don't Forget About the Spouse

Sure, you want Jane to work for you, but if her husband Bob isn't happy with the move, Jane won't last long either. It's not appropriate to ask about marital and family status in a job interview, but when a relocation is happening, you need to make sure that the family is taken care of. After you've made Jane the job offer, volunteer to fly her and her significant other out to look for housing to make a final decision.

Why is this important? Well, Jane is going to show up with a shiny new job and have a new social structure and a new daily routine from day one. That's the easy part.

Her husband? Well, he's got to find a new job in a new town where he doesn't have any connections. Since Jane will be at work, he's going to be:

  • Registering cars,
  • Finding schools and day cares for the children,
  • Waiting for a whole variety of service people.

These things are boring and tedious, but someone has to do it and it's usually the spouse. 

The spouse also has no social structure built in like your new employee does. No one takes him to lunch to welcome him to the neighborhood. If your new employee wants to move back home, the spouse is usually a huge deciding factor in this. When the spouse is miserable with a move, you can bet that your employee can become miserable as well.

A good relocation program, with job hunting help, school advice, and introduction to local groups can save you a fortune overall. A happy spouse really can make a huge difference to your employee's success.

Related Article: How to Achieve Work-Life Balance as a Small Business Owner

Give More Time to get up to Speed

When your new employee just has to come to a different office building in the same town, not much else changes. But, when you've relocated every little thing requires a decision, and every decision we make reduces our ability to make additional decisions.  

Your new employee has to decide:

  • How to get to work
  • Where to buy gas,
  • Where to go grocery shopping,
  • What restaurant to go to for lunch.

These things seem like little things, but they are not. They all take decision-making power. You do most things on autopilot but someone who has relocated is doing nothing on auto pilot.

In addition to all the extra decision making, your employee has to take care of all those little things. Did she buy a new house? Then she's got to find a plumber, a gardener, an exterminator and whatever else you need as a homeowner. She's got to find doctors, dentists, get library cards, register cars, get a new driver's license and join a new church.

These things all take time and attention. Don't expect your newly transported employee to be able to put in 60 hours a week from the beginning. All these other things have to be done, and many of them during normal business hours.

Don't Forget About Trips Home

When companies send employees on temporary international assignments, they often pay for trips home. That's pretty over the top for a domestic relocation, but keep in mind that your new employee still has family and friends in the old town.

This means they will need vacation time to go to weddings, funerals, graduations and grandma's 90th birthday party. Allowing your employee the time off to attend these events will be more likely to bond your employee to your company.

Be a Great Manager

If you stink as a manager, no amount of support and honesty will make your employee want to stay. If you know you are a micro-manager, paying for a relocation could be a waste of money.

You can improve your management skills:

  • Be nice.
  • Be fair.
  • Work hard.

These things will make your new employee feel comfortable in her new job, and increase your chances of success with your new employee.

Relocation can work out great for you and your company, as long as you approach it from the right angle and realize what you need to do in order for your new employee to succeed. 

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