relocation

Relocation packages: Does it have to be all or nothing?

Today Living Group relocation

You’ve found a great candidate. Should you offer them a relocation package?

The situation: Your company is located outside of a major metropolis and operates in a specialized industry, so filling some of your senior positions is challenging. But you’ve finally found a candidate who’s both perfect for the role and also seems interested – but they live across the country, and have a spouse, two children and a dog.

Do you offer them a full relocation package, which could run into the tens – or even hundreds – of thousands of dollars?

 

Tempting relocation packages involve a lot of moving parts

Relocation ‘packages’, especially for senior employees, aren’t just about offering the candidate $10,000 to defray their moving expenses. Relocation packages at the executive level can involve a lot of items, most of them costly:

  • Will the candidate need moving assistance (financial and/or logistical)?
  • Will they need employment for their spouse?
  • Will they need to sell their current home? What are real estate values like in their current area vs the area you’re asking them to move to? Will they be giving up equity in their former location if they spend 5 years at your company?
  • Do they need childcare?
  • Will they need specialized schooling or resources for their children?
  • Is there extended family to be considered?
  • Will they need a car or two (a family moving from Manhattan to the suburbs may not even have a single car, but if they have kids, they’re going to need 2 in their new home)?
  • How much downtime will they need to wrap up their current commitments in order to be able to hit the ground running in their new role?

 

Increasingly, studies are showing that relocated employees do better (and put more money on the bottom line for their companies) when they’re given support for all the factors that affect their lives, including their personal lives. And it’s true that long-term relocations work best when spouses and children are appropriately supported in the new location.

But that can mean a big commitment from the company doing the hiring, because a lot of things can go wrong:

  • The candidate experiences too much culture shock, gets homesick and disengages from the job
  • The candidate turns out to be a dud and has to be terminated
  • The candidate is poached by a competitor in their new city
  • The candidate does well, but his/her family doesn’t integrate well into the new location and pushes the candidate to leave

Mitigate your risk: Try temporary relocation first

What we’re seeing many companies do these days, especially when relocating a senior resource from a large city to a suburban area, is to try a 3-12-month temporary relocation first. How does it work?

The company and the candidate enter into an agreement that outlines the long-term goal of full relocation (with whatever associated supports for costs and family they negotiate as part of the arrangement) but provides for an initial temporary relocation that allows both parties to figure out just how the new employer-employee relationship will work.

Typically the new hire is set up in a corporate housing (commonly known as ‘executive suites’ or ‘executive housing’), which may be a small pied-a-terre or a full-sized family home in the new location. Sometimes the spouse (and children, if there are any) come to stay in this housing; other times the spouse stays in the home location and there is an agreement whereby weekend travel expenses are covered.

In some cases, the employer and new hire decide quickly that the new job should be permanent, so after a couple of months, the relocation becomes permanent. In other cases, the temporary relocation continues for an extended period. In both cases, the total financial and resource cost – and the risk –  is substantially lower than it would be if the company had undertaken a complete relocation at the outset.

(Want to learn more about how executive suites and furnished accommodation works? Get in touch.)

 

 

 

5 ways managers can help employee relocation go more smoothly

Relocation is hardly ever ‘routine’. Here’s how you can support employees.

Today Living Group relocation management

As the working world continues to become more global, employee mobility and employee relocation is increasingly common.

But for the employees (and their families) involved, relocation is hardly ever ‘routine’. Here’s how HR professionals can support employees – and the business – allowing them to relocate smoothly, seamlessly, and hit the ground running in their new location.

Have a plan: For relocation in general, and the employee specifically

For organizations which don’t relocate employees on a regular basis, it can be tempting to conduct relocations on a sort of ad hoc basis. But this can leave the employee with a lot of questions, uncertainty, and with a lot of extra work at a time when they need to be extra-focused on their job. And it can lead to significantly increased relocation costs for the organization for movers, accommodation and loss of productivity.

Organizations which take the time to create Relocation Roadmaps almost always save time, money and headache. These roadmaps should include:

  • A comprehensive list of the expenses and responsibilities of the relocation – and who is responsible for each element
  • Details about their new work environment: Vacation days, sick days, trips home, etc.
  • Timelines
  • Key contact information for the employee (both within the organization and in their new city)
  • Key information on the employee and his/her family
  • Healthcare information (what the employee should do if s/he becomes sick or is injured in his/her new home, etc.)

Establish a single point of contact – who has the power to act

One of the most common problems we see in relocated employees is that when they have a question, or something goes wrong, they don’t know who to contact to get it resolved. Establishing a single point of contact for each employee who relocates (and making them available outside of regular hours during key parts of the move) can make a huge difference to their peace of mind – and save money by avoiding costly workarounds.

Build trusted partnerships in key cities

For organizations who regularly relocate employees or send them on long-term temp assignments, building relationships with key suppliers, such as movers, IT companies and furnished accommodation providers in the cities they relocate to most often can mean that relocations are handled precisely to the organization’s requirements, often within a single phone call.

Understand the non-work factors affecting the employee

Whether you’re sending an employee to work in a branch office for 3 months, or relocating them for a 3-year stint, they’re not working in a vacuum: They may be leaving family or bringing family with them; learning a new language or taking courses; caring for a sick relative – there are any number of factors that can be complicated by their move. (And 60% of spouses are reluctant to relocate. http://gmsmobility.com/corporate-relocation/knowledge-base/family-matters-trailing-spouse-career-assistance/ ]  The more you know about their life as a whole, the better you can support them, whether that’s by helping them find schools for their kids or ensuring their contract allows them adequate visits home. This support can seem time-consuming, but will deliver a better productivity ROI in the long run.

Make their landing smooth and seamless

There’s nothing worse than landing in a new city, feeling a little anxious about starting a new job in a whole new place, only to find that your luggage hasn’t arrived or your apartment isn’t ready or you don’t have internet access.

HR professionals can make a big difference, by:

  • Using the relocation plan to ensure details aren’t missed
  • Partnering with accommodation providers who can act like ‘concierges’ in the employee’s new city
  • Ensuring employees have someone on the ground in their new home to contact for help with day-to-day challenges

We know that while the idea of relocation sounds exciting, the reality can be stressful – but it doesn’t have to be. A little advance planning and the right partner can increase the ‘exciting’ while minimizing the ‘stressful’.

 

Corporate relocation: When does it make sense to relocate an employee?

Today Living Group relocation corporate housing

Relocation is a big deal for employees and the organization.
How do you know it’s the right decision?

These days, we hear a lot about ‘global mobility’ and ‘world citizens’, but the truth is that relocating an employee from one country to another – even from one city to another – for a short- or long-term assignment is still a major move for most people, and for the organizations they work for.

Most of us know that moving is one of the most stressful activities a person can undertake. While losing a job is also considered to be one of the most high-stress events in  a person’s life, it’s also understood that simply changing jobs can also be a big stressor. And that’s just from the employee’s perspective.

For organizations, relocating a key employee can have a significant impact: The lost of short-term productivity, the potential gap left behind, the possibility of an unsuccessful (and expensive) assignment – all of these can affect the organization as a whole.

So how can HR professionals determine whether relocation is a good idea?

First, identify the opportunity

First, it’s crucial to identify the potential operational benefits and costs to the organization:

  • Can the relocating employee bring something to the new location that no one else can (at least in the short term)?
  • Does the employee have skills and/or experience that aren’t readily available in the new location?
  • Can the employee do a more effective job of translating the company brand/mission/business goals than a new employee in the new location could?
  • Can the relocating employee facilitate replication of their skills and experience to the new location?
  • Do the benefits of legacy knowledge outweigh the organizational costs of relocation?
  • Can business leaders see a clear win at the end of a specific amount of time?

Costs are always a consideration

It’s important to remember that ‘costs’, in the context of a corporate relocation, aren’t just how much the organization might spend on transportation or moving allowances. There are all kinds of other, sometimes hidden, costs that should also be considered.

  • Remuneration differential: The cost of living can vary greatly from country to country and city to city. An annual salary of $150k in a mid-sized Canadian city might equate to a salary of $350k in a high-cost city like Manhattan, or $50k in Thailand. (And it’s important to provide the relocating employee with sufficient remuneration to maintain the same standard of living they were enjoying in their original location.)
  • Moving costs: Some companies offer relocating employees a lump sum to cover moving costs; others use relocation companies who will arrange moving and housing and then bill the organization directly. Both options have advantages, so it’s important to know the details of both
  • Housing costs: Some organizations are able to provide the relocating employee with local housing or arrange for corporate housing for a finite period. In other cases, it may make more sense to allow the employee to choose their own housing, and let the organization accommodate this via a housing allowance or a remuneration adjustment
  • Relocation services costs: Some organizations, especially those with multiple employees working in locations around the world, outsource the relocation process (from moving to housing to settling in and language training) to specialized relocation companies. These can take the burden of relocation administration off HR, but tend to be more costly than trying to do it in-house

Examine the risks

Relocating a top employee can have great benefits for the organization in the short- and long-term. However, even the best-managed relocation assignments can go south, and it’s important to acknowledge the risks ahead of time, including:

  • Is the employee enthusiastic about the move? Talking a reluctant employee into a big move can mean a loss of productivity – or even the loss of the employee
  • Is the assignee’s family on-board with the relocation? If spouses or children are involved in the relocation, they’ll have a huge effect on the ability of the employee to settle in and be productive in their new location. Offering support for spouses and children can help offset the stress on the family
  • Are you providing sufficient incentives for the employee to stay with the company long-term? A poorly-managed relocation – or an employee who is initially okay with the move but becomes dissatisfied over time – can leave top talent vulnerable to poaching by competitors
  • Is there an exit strategy for the employee and the organization, if the relocation doesn’t work out as planned? Sometimes, relocations just don’t work out, even with the best of intentions and everyone trying their best. There should be a plan in place for next steps if things go south.

 

A bit of planning makes a huge difference

It’s a cliche, but it’s true: The most successful relocations happen when HR is given – and undertakes – a mandate to think through a potential relocation from a strategic, cost/benefit, and risk management perspective. The more pre-work is done, the better any relocation will go.

 

6 tips for finding the right corporate housing/furnished suite/executive suites

The trick is finding a partner you can trust

How to choose the right corporate housing

So, you’ve been assigned to a project team in another city for the next 2 months. You’re excited, because it’s a great opportunity to build your skills and create relationships with some senior people, not to mention get to know a world-class city in a way that just isn’t possible when you just visit for a vacation. But the thought of spending all your time in a cramped hotel room – or, worse, traveling back and forth all the time – is putting a damper on your enthusiasm.

Corporate housing (also known as ‘executive suites’ or ‘extended stay suites’) is a great option for a short-term relocation – but how do you choose the right one, especially if you have to do it online, without being able to check out the space in person?

Here are 6 tips to make it easier:

  1. Ask around. Referrals are one of the best ways to find a great place to stay, because people who’ve been through the process can give you more detailed, relevant information (“I know you love eating out – this place is within walking distance to all kinds of great restaurants…”) – and will be honest if a particular place didn’t deliver a good experience.
  2. Talk to your HR or accounting department. Chances are, they’ve arranged short-term accommodations for other employees in the past, and they can steer you in the right direction.
  3. Make a list of the features most important to you. Do you like to be able to walk to work, shopping and entertainment, or do you need parking? Are you passionate about working out and would appreciate a fitness center in the building? Do you need a large area to set up a home office? Will you want to have a spouse or friends to stay during your assignment? The more you know about what you’re looking for, the easier it’ll be to make a shortlist of possibilities.
  4. Set aside some time to Google. Give yourself some time to Google ‘furnished apartments’ or ‘corporate housing’ in the neighbourhood you’d most like to live. The more you know about what’s on the market, the better equipped you’ll be to make a decision you can live with for 2 months.
  5. Make sure you see all the photos – and a floor plan. Photographs – especially small ones online – can be deceiving. What looks like a huge, light-filled living room in one photo angle can turn out to be a poky, privacy-free closet when seen in person. (Plus, the more photos a company provides, the more likely it is they haven’t got anything to hide about their properties.)
  6. Talk to a real person. It can be tempting, when you’re busy and just want to get things done, to book a suite online without talking to anyone. That’s fine for a night or two in hotel – where it doesn’t matter that much if the room turns out to be terrible – but it’s more dangerous when choosing a place to stay for an extended period. Even a 10-minute phone call will give you a good idea of what you can expect in terms of reliability and service when you’re actually in your new, temporary, home.

BONUS TIP: When you do make your arrangements, don’t forget to get all the details in writing!

What does a successful (temporary) relocation assignment really look like?

Relocation tips from Today Living Group

It happened again last week: We got a call from the VP Talent in the New York office of a global company, and she was in a bit of a panic. “We recruited this super-specialized manager for a huge project we’re running in Toronto for the next 4 months. He’s only been in Toronto for a week but he’s already talking about quitting the project because the transition has been a disaster. He found some place to stay on Airbnb which turned out to be totally unsuitable, his wife and young child can’t visit him, and it’s taking him 45 minutes to get to the office every day. Can you help?”

Temporary relocations – typically 2-8 months – can often seem like no big deal to employers. After all, the assignee doesn’t have to sell his/her house, is usually given time to go home on weekends or bring his/her family to visit on a regular basis, and, from the employer’s perspective, is being given a great opportunity to build their career and make new connections.

All of that is true, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not stressful. Temporary assignees often feel the pressure to work long days, they’re in unfamiliar surroundings with new colleagues, they’re separated from family and friends, their gym, their favourite lunch spot – the things that make daily life familiar and comforting.

And of course when relocated employees start to get overwhelmed, they are at greater risk of burnout. Which means that suddenly your top-performing A-lister can’t do what they’re great at, and that means that not only is the temporary project in jeopardy, but you’re at risk of actually losing your employee altogether, when they decide that maybe they’d rather work for a company that didn’t want to send them on temporary assignments that make them miserable.

How can you create a temporary relocation program that works better?

No, we’re not HR experts. But we’ve been working with temporarily relocated employees and their employers for 20 years now, and we’ve learned a few things along the way. Here’s what we know about how temporary assignments can be more successful- for everyone:

Think about it from your employee’s point of view

Employers often think that employees should jump at the chance of a temporary relocation, because it seems exciting, career-building, and sometimes even lucrative. But for an employee who’s recently had a baby, who’s getting their MBA at nights and on weekends, or is leading a team in their home office, the thought of spending 3+ months in another city may not seem so appealing. Being sensitive to these considerations – and approaching the employee accordingly – will set a more positive tone for everything that follows.

Make sure everyone knows what’s involved (including expenses)

Temporary assignments work best when everyone – the employee, his/her manager, the HR department, and the office where the employee will be working – knows exactly what’s expected, in advance. Will the assignee be working four 10-hour days per week in order to have 3-day weekends to go home? Will there be a per diem for food/expenses? Is it payable on a regular basis, and does the employee have to submit receipts? Is there a firm end date, or is it tied to the completion of a given project? Will the company be paying to bring family to stay, and if so, how often? Or will the company pay for accommodations that will allow the employee to bring family with him/her?

Taking the guesswork out of this makes life less stressful for your employee, and allows better cost/deliverable management for the organization.

Don’t force – or let – your employee go rogue

Companies who don’t have large HR or relocation departments often leave it up to the employee to find housing, transportation and other services in their new city. This is both time-consuming and stressful, and – as we saw with our New York client – can end in disaster for everyone. Assigning an internal resource to find appropriate housing, transportation and support, and ensuring they dot every I and cross every T, will deliver a better ROI in the end.

Have an onboarding strategy

In our experience, temporary relocations often go off the rails right at the beginning, when a relocated employee arrives in a new city, sometimes late at night or on a weekend, to find that the expected arrangements are not in place and s/he has no one to call to help straighten it out. The employee then arrives for his/her first day or work already stressed out, tired and annoyed – which isn’t good for anyone. Ensuring that someone is on the ground to meet and assist the relocated employee upon arrival can make a huge difference in how the project moves forward.

Engage some expert help

Unless your company is a large multinational that often relocates employees around the world, chances are you don’t have a dedicated relocation department or a global mobility specialist on staff. For higher-volume and/or longer-term relocations, you may want to consider engaging a third-party relocation company like Weichert or BGRS. For short-term or smaller volumes, you can talk to your corporate housing provider – like, say, Today Living Group – you may be surprised at just how much assistance we can provide.

Temporary relocations can be great for employees and businesses

And a little advance planning can deliver both a great experience and a great ROI.

 

Short-term relocation for work?

Here’s how to make it work better

Corporate housing relocation

Taking a short-term work assignment in a different city can be an exciting opportunity: It can give your career a boost, help you meet new (and useful) colleagues in different parts of the country or world, and living in a new city for a few weeks or months can give you a perspective that a short vacation never can.

At the same time, however, any relocation – even if it’s only for a limited time – can be stressful. Here are our tips for how to make it easier so you can get the most out of the experience.

Know exactly what’s involved with the new job

At some companies, a short-term relocation is associated with a specific project or hours; for others, it’s handled more as an ‘employee exchange’, where you and your counterpart are effectively switching jobs for a few weeks or months. Before you go, find out (from HR, your current manager, or from the office you’re going to) exactly what your role will be, and what’s expected during the time you’re there.

Understand what’s being paid for by the company

One of the biggest frustrations for employees involved in a short-term relocation is a lack of clear information about expenses. Is the company paying for your accommodation and food while you’re in the new city? Are there limits? Will they be paying for visits home (or for family members to visit you) during your stay? What about transportation and moving costs? Asking these questions well before you make the move will reduce your stress considerably.

Find accommodations close to the office (if possible)

In a short-term relocation – especially when the company is paying for accommodations and a per diem for food, or where you’ve been sent to work on a specific project – it’s not uncommon to be expected to work a little more than you would at your ‘regular’ job. And it may be difficult to take or rent a car. So finding somewhere to live that’s close to the office can make a big difference – you don’t want to be losing two hours a day on your commute.

Make connections in the new city

Yes, the people in your new office will probably make an effort to take you out to lunch or invite you to after-work social events to help you find your feet in your new temporary home. But in case they don’t (or in case you feel the need to hang out with people not from work) you may also want to look at your Facebook and LinkedIn contacts. An old college roommate, a cousin you haven’t seen in a while, even a former co-worker may be living in the city you’re about to visit. Let them know when you’ll be arriving and invite them for lunch or a drink during your first couple of weeks. It’ll help you feel grounded and connected to your new place.

Think about what you can’t live without – and take it with you

For some people, ‘home’ means having a picture of their spouse by their bed; for others, it means having just the right shampoo or a favourite pair of pyjamas. Figure out the two or three things you need to make you feel comfortable, and then make sure to pack those things first. After all, it may take you a week or two in your new home to find out where to buy that special shampoo. (Of course, we do provide shampoo – and some snacks – when you arrive at one of our suites. And if you don’t have time to grocery shop, we can help with that as well.)

Walk the city

There’s no better way to get to know a new city than to walk it. You’ll see more, you’ll interact with other people, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and find stuff (like that special shampoo!) that just aren’t possible when you’re in a car or in public transit. It’s a good way to start feeling part of your new city.

Take a (small) first-aid kit

You know what it’s like: You’re having a bad day, you come home and start making some dinner, only to cut your finger on the paring knife. Suddenly you feel a little bit more alone. That’s when it’s helpful to have a tube of Polysporin and a bandaid. You can fix up your finger, sit down on the couch – and order pizza. And now it feels a bit more like home.

 

HR PROFESSIONALS: How to make relocation go more smoothly

Relocation is hardly ever ‘routine’. Here’s how you can support employees.

HR professionals can help relocation go better

As the working world continues to become more global, employee mobility and employee relocation is increasingly common.

But for the employees (and their families) involved, relocation is hardly ever ‘routine’. Here’s how HR professionals can support employees – and the business – allowing them to relocate smoothly, seamlessly, and hit the ground running in their new location.

Have a plan: For relocation in general, and the employee specifically

For organizations which don’t relocate employees on a regular basis, it can be tempting to conduct relocations on a sort of ad hoc basis. But this can leave the employee with a lot of questions, uncertainty, and with a lot of extra work at a time when they need to be extra-focused on their job. And it can lead to significantly increased relocation costs for the organization for movers, accommodation and loss of productivity.

Organizations which take the time to create Relocation Roadmaps almost always save time, money and headache. These roadmaps should include:

  • A comprehensive list of the expenses and responsibilities of the relocation – and who is responsible for each element
  • Details about their new work environment: Vacation days, sick days, trips home, etc.
  • Timelines
  • Key contact information for the employee (both within the organization and in their new city)
  • Key information on the employee and his/her family
  • Healthcare information (what the employee should do if s/he becomes sick or is injured in his/her new home, etc.)

Establish a single point of contact – who has the power to act

One of the most common problems we see in relocated employees is that when they have a question, or something goes wrong, they don’t know who to contact to get it resolved. Establishing a single point of contact for each employee who relocates (and making them available outside of regular hours during key parts of the move) can make a huge difference to their peace of mind – and save money by avoiding costly workarounds.

Build trusted partnerships in key cities

For organizations who regularly relocate employees or send them on long-term temp assignments, building relationships with key suppliers, such as movers, IT companies and furnished accommodation providers in the cities they relocate to most often can mean that relocations are handled precisely to the organization’s requirements, often within a single phone call.

Understand the non-work factors affecting the employee

Whether you’re sending an employee to work in a branch office for 3 months, or relocating them for a 3-year stint, they’re not working in a vacuum: They may be leaving family or bringing family with them; learning a new language or taking courses; caring for a sick relative – there are any number of factors that can be complicated by their move. (And 60% of spouses are reluctant to relocate. http://gmsmobility.com/corporate-relocation/knowledge-base/family-matters-trailing-spouse-career-assistance/ ]  The more you know about their life as a whole, the better you can support them, whether that’s by helping them find schools for their kids or ensuring their contract allows them adequate visits home. This support can seem time-consuming, but will deliver a better productivity ROI in the long run.

Make their landing smooth and seamless

There’s nothing worse than landing in a new city, feeling a little anxious about starting a new job in a whole new place, only to find that your luggage hasn’t arrived or your apartment isn’t ready or you don’t have internet access.

HR professionals can make a big difference, by:

  • Using the relocation plan to ensure details aren’t missed
  • Partnering with accommodation providers who can act like ‘concierges’ in the employee’s new city
  • Ensuring employees have someone on the ground in their new home to contact for help with day-to-day challenges

We know that while the idea of relocation sounds exciting, the reality can be stressful – but it doesn’t have to be. A little advance planning and the right partner can increase the ‘exciting’ while minimizing the ‘stressful’.