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.)