Is Your Company Managing the Emotional Toll of an Employee Relocation?

Since moving is often considered a top life stressor, what happens when it includes a few other big stressors like buying/selling a home, starting a different job in the new location, and moving to a new country with a different language/culture. How is your relocating employee and their family emotionally impacted by this stress? If your employees are one of your most valuable organizational assets, managing their emotional toll is critical to your company’s success. Don’t ignore the potential stress and its effects on your workforce as you manage costs and logistics.

The Great Resignation

Move stressors can lower employee engagement, decrease company loyalty, decrease retention and affect team interactions. Given the war for talent, it’s important to consider more than just the costs and logistics and costs of an employee relocation. “The Great Resignation is unprecedented; recruiters are competing against talent ready for a change and even talent that has been placed within the last two years. Employers will need to be strategic in their efforts to hire and retain,” says WHR Group, Inc. (WHR) Human Resources Manager, Kimberley Uitz.

The stress of moving might impact an employee’s mental health and engagement with their employer. If an employee becomes disengaged, their productivity could decline. This can create a trickle-down effect directly impacting teams and eventually the company itself. The transferring employee may be worried whether the new job will work out. A tired, disengaged, or distracted employee’s attitude may be felt by other team members and affect team dynamics.

Transferees and their families may face a host of potential emotional and mental tolls from a relocation. If one or more family members are unhappy with the move and having trouble settling-in, the stress could affect the employee too. The employee might be feeling distracted, disengaged, unhappy, and they might even consider leaving the new role and moving back to their original location. Uprooting an entire family’s life and acclimating to a new community can be quite difficult.

Employee stress associated with moving to a new location might also include concerns about a partner’s career, children’s education, learning new languages, cultural differences, selling their old home, leaving old coworkers behind, or concerns about the new destination’s real estate market or crime rates.

Adopt a Human-Centered Approach

According to an article in Employee Benefit News, “When it comes to employee relocation, most organizations focus on the nuts and bolts, thinking strategically about the costs associated with the move and what will be the most affordable option to get their people from point A to point B. It makes sense from a business perspective, but it’s not how to make a relocation successful. Employers have to remember they are moving people, not just boxes. Any time you deal with people, you need to adopt a human-centered approach.

“While you’re helping them get their belongings from one place to the next, they’re dealing with switching insurances, licenses and addresses. If they have a family, they need to enroll their children in new schools, find doctors and a new job for their spouse or partner. On top of that, they might be dealing with some negative emotions from their family, unhappy with the move. All of this can influence how your employee feels about their new position and how they assimilate into their new role.”

The stakes can be even higher when the employee is relocating from their home country to a new country, and the emotional tolls might take on a new tone. According to WHR’s International Business Development Manager, Linden Houghtby, GMS®, who moved from the US to both Switzerland and Singapore to manage the openings of WHR’s international offices, “When relocating to another country, there is additional stress involved in the regular activities that you take for granted at home, like buying groceries, for example. This additional stress can be emotionally wearing.”

According to an article from Talaera, a language training company, “As an HR manager, you want employee relocation to be as smooth as possible. But for many employees, leaving their home country behind is a big deal. The human element is critical to the well-being of your international hires.”

What Can Employers Do to Minimize the Emotional Toll of Relocation?

“Mental health is an area where employers need to think beyond their EAP programs and truly learn to support employees from a mental perspective. Employers should create policies to support transferees and think of other supportive benefit plans which can elevate stress among their employees,” says Uitz.

Make sure you have a relocation policy that includes all potential support including the following:

  • Medical Options
  • Education Options
  • Local Shopping Information
  • Transportation Information
  • Utility Connections
  • Education Assistance
  • Site Visits/Area Orientation
  • Help Buying & Selling Homes
  • Household Goods Move
  • Temporary Storage
  • Family Support
  • Ongoing Assignment Support
  • Language & Cultural Training
  • Immigration Services
  • Property Management
  • Temporary Housing
  • Lists of Community Resources
  • Cost of Living Pay Adjustments for Higher Cost Areas
  • Driver’s License and Registration Information
  • Spousal/Partner Career Assistance

Attract & Retain Talent

” If a relocation is not handled successfully, it threatens the employer’s ability to retain the employee – and it risks losing someone the employer has devoted time and money to develop and move,” according to a SHRM article. If you want to attract and retain top talent and you consider your employees one of your most important assets, remember to address more than just relocation costs and logistics. Taking care of an employee’s emotional health will pay out for years to come. Lastly, partner with a good Relocation Management Company (RMC) that can provide these invaluable services to your most important assets.

For more information about WHR’s Relocation Management Services, contact sales@whrg.com or 800-523-2800.

Why should you bother reviewing your relocation policy?

Even though many companies now allow all-remote or hybrid work, they are still relocating employees to fill needed roles and help attract/retain top talent. To be successful, your organization needs a well-prepared and comprehensive relocation policy in place to help in the following areas:

  • Control business costs
  • Ensure you’re meeting employee needs
  • Attract and retain top talent
  • Benchmark your policy against the competition

As a Relocation Management Company (RMC), WHR Group, Inc. (WHR) conducts policy reviews. The following examples demonstrate just how important it is to review your relocation policy regularly. If you don’t already have a policy, you’ll want to create one. Here’s why it’s all so important:

A. Control Business Costs. Are You Paying for Unnecessary Benefits?

Make sure you’re allocating the right amount of dollars to both transferees and organizational needs. It’s also important you’re not paying for unneeded or outdated benefits.

Example #1
A company was giving each transferee a standard $5K-$10K relocation lump sum to assist with any extra expenses. They were also giving executives a lump sum equal to 6 weeks’ salary on top of the $5K-$10K lump sum. Since some executives had large salaries, this allowance sometimes equated to $50K per executive! After review, we recommended the company cut back on that practice for executives. The company saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Example #2
A client was paying a cost-of-living differential if the employee was relocating to a higher-cost area. They were paying this out for 3-4 years, plus they were also providing a big lump sum benefit. We recommended a minimum 5% cost of living threshold so that they were not paying transferees moving to only slightly higher cost of living areas. The client saved millions.

Example #3
Another client was giving out non-promotional bonuses to current employees willing to relocate for a lateral role. These bonuses equated to 5% of the employees’ salaries. Since this practice is not common, we recommended they eliminate this from their relocation policy. This saved them significant costs without lowering the value of their program.

Example #4
One of our clients was paying a loan origination fee. Some lenders don’t even charge this fee but if they know the client will pay, they will still charge the fee anyway. Once we alerted the client, they stopped paying the fee unless necessary.

B. Meet Your Employees’ Needs

Is your relocation policy meeting your employees’ needs? The right policy helps to reduce transferee stress so that employees can focus on working in their new location. Giving employees time off to assimilate in their new location, providing support to transferees’ families and gathering post-relocation feedback to make future policy decisions will all help to address your transferees’ needs. 

Example #1
One of our clients was offering a lump sum benefit for all international relocations. By gathering post-relocation survey feedback, we found out transferees were trying to coordinate their international household goods (HHG) shipments and were not spending the full lump sum in the hopes of keeping some of the money. Survey feedback also showed that giving employees that level of choice was adding more stress on them, and it was making the relocation process take longer. Transferees were trying to do it all on their own, plus pinch pennies.

The client considered all key benefits and determined the lump sum was not working. They shifted from a lump sum to a core flex benefit. This meant the client would cover HHG shipments, destination service providers and temporary housing, but they still gave transferees a lump sum amount to be used at the employees’ discretion. Not only did this help reduce transferee stress but it also helped control business costs.

Example #2
One client was not offering destination services to spouses/partners and families of intra-European moves. They assumed that if a transferee/family was relocating from Romania to the UK, for example, destination services were not needed. Through post-relocation survey feedback, it was determined that spouses/partners needed career assistance, language training and help with school searches for their children. The employee had office workers to help them assimilate in the new locations, but the transferees’ partners were struggling with the new language, and even struggling to find necessities like grocery stores. Recognizing the needs of the entire family unit, and not just the transferee is crucial to ensuring a successful move and assimilation.

C. Attract & Retain Talent by Benchmarking Your Policy Against the Competition

Hopefully, your relocation policy is already part of your total rewards and talent management strategy. The right policy will help your company retain current employees and attract top prospective candidates. A weak relocation policy could have a negative impact on your recruiting and retention success rate.

By benchmarking your policy against other companies, you will stay competitive in the war for talent. Make sure your policy provides a choice of offerings since relocation policies are wrapped into job offers. If you don’t benchmark against your competitors, you won’t know if your offerings are good or not. Are they subpar to what everyone else is offering? If you are hiring high-level executives, for example, and the talent is very specific and not easy to come by, you’ll want to make sure you’re competitive with salary, benefits and your relocation policy.

At the same time, benchmarking will ensure you’re not giving away too much when none of your competitors are doing that. Benchmarking your policy against others shows you are in line with the industry. It’s also important to look at your industry and other industries you compete with for talent.

Example #1

Imagine losing a potential candidate because your relocation policy is missing benefits your competitors are including. For example, if your candidate is an executive expecting a full house buyout, but your policy only includes an HHG move and lump sum payout, then you must go back and forth negotiating with your superiors and the candidate. This can waste a lot of time. In the interim, the candidate might receive a better job offer, including more relocation benefits. A relocation policy can be a factor for candidates deciding whether to take one job over another. If you’ve benchmarked your policy against your competition, you’ll already know what their policies include.

Example #2
A client was getting feedback from its talent acquisition team that it was difficult filling certain positions. After reviewing their policy and benchmarking it against their competitors, we discovered that their competition was offering far richer relocation benefits. As a result, the company decided to expand its range of jobs eligible for full relocation benefits.

How often should you review your policy?

WHR recommends you review your employee relocation policy annually, or every couple of years at the very longest. It does not have to be a huge overhaul, but it’s a chance for you to pause and look at employee feedback, plus confirm any changes in your company culture, driving principles, core values, talent strategy, the industry and your competition. This is a time for you to make sure your policy is aligned with all those pieces and your key stakeholders (talent acquisition teams, recruiting teams and HR business partners).

Let Us Help You!

WHR is available to review and/or write your relocation policy (domestic and/or international).

Business Expansion During a Pandemic: Meeting Global Mobility Needs

As Covid restrictions have eased in most parts of the world, many businesses are back to functioning normally. We all know too well the huge strain the pandemic put on businesses worldwide as some companies did not survive. Like most organizations, WHR Group, Inc. (WHR), a relocation management company, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sent its employees home to work remotely until restrictions were lifted and it was safe to work in the office again. Although it may have felt like the world came to a startling halt, WHR’s clients’ needs did not. That’s why WHR expanded internationally during the height of COVID-19. In 2020, WHR opened offices in Basel, Switzerland, and Singapore, to meet the growing demands of its global clients. Opening new offices – and in foreign countries – during a pandemic created its own set of challenges.

Meeting Global Client Demands

Managing WHR’s growing international caseload from the US was no longer practical. Opening regional offices allowed WHR to provide the same level of service to all clients, transferees and assignees. “While Covid-19 dramatically slowed the ability of individuals to cross borders, we persisted in opening these offices to fulfil our client obligations and be prepared to meet future demand,” says WHR President, Paul De Boer. “These offices allow WHR to provide resources where needed and build supplier partnerships that are critical to maintaining industry-best service levels.” The Switzerland office supports clients and their transferees in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; the Singapore office supports the Asia Pacific region. WHR’s Singapore and Switzerland offices provide a range of services including pre-assignment, transition, on assignment and repatriation services to multi-language expatriate transferees. 

Solely and independently owned since its inception 26 years ago, WHR specializes in providing each expatriate with a dedicated relocation team, white-glove service and 24/7/365 availability for the entire relocation process – long or short-term assignments. Along with its U.S. headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, WHR helps some of the largest organizations in the world and has relocated hundreds of thousands of employees to over 120 countries worldwide.

Hiring, Training Global Mobility Staff & Opening Offices

WHR’s Linden Houghtby, GMS®, was the transitional lead for opening both the Switzerland and Singapore offices. She hired and trained local staff who then assumed leadership and operational roles for each office. Houghtby was instrumental in WHR’s international expansion and instilled WHR’s culture and best practices into its international operations. According to Houghtby, “Remote onboarding across time zones brought its own set of challenges. As most of our Switzerland team was hired after I moved to Singapore, I was doing a lot of training with team members in different times zones, and one of the ways I made this work was to schedule regular touch base calls each day with the teams in both Switzerland and Singapore to ensure consistency and continuity across the two teams. This also helped to embed our culture and develop comradery.” 

Plans to open the international offices were slightly delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but WHR was able to proceed. Having these international offices was extremely beneficial as WHR was assisting its clients and their employees manage the immigration and logistic challenges of 2021. “Being in the same time zones as client contacts, transferees, and supplier partners allowed us to have regular calls with stakeholders and navigate the shifting border and movement restrictions,” said Houghtby.

WHR also faced visa delays while trying to open the offices/hire staff, due to government offices closing, tightening immigration requirements, and Brexit. In Singapore, there were challenges as to when Houghtby could go look at office spaces since in-person meetings were not always allowed. Once an office was secured, all work still had to be done remotely.

Looking Ahead

“Creating a footprint in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia has allowed us to engage clients in new and dynamic ways and has deepened our commitment to meet the demands of our global clients,” said De Boer.

Can WHR Help You?

Whether your company is relocating employees domestically or sending them to another country for a short or long-term international assignment, WHR can assist. We will help you design your relocation policy and then manage the program for you.

Contact WHR to discuss your domestic and international employee relocation strategies.

 

 

Win in the War for Talent: Attracting and Retaining Employees in Hybrid and Remote Work Models

Are the hybrid and remote working models here to stay? Countless studies have shown that employees want the ability to work remotely, at least part of the time. One study showed 83% of workers prefer a hybrid model. Another survey, by the Pulse of the American Worker, stated that 87% of people want to work remotely at least 1 day each week. According to a Harvard Business Review article, over 90% of employers will have a hybrid working model for knowledge workers in 2022. There has been much debate as to whether hybrid and remote work is good for business and whether they have a positive or negative effect on company culture. Putting all debates aside though, if you ask an HR professional, they might just say that offering hybrid or remote work schedules has become part of their employee retention and attraction strategies. In fact, 78% of HR professionals surveyed by Crain’s Future of Work survey said, “flexible schedules and remote working are effective ways to retain workers without spending money.” If these stats are true, what does this mean for the future of employee relocation and global mobility?

Employee Relocation as a Recruitment and Attraction Strategy

The truth is, relocating your employees to an area they want to live will help with your organization’s employee retention and attraction rates. There was a time pre-pandemic when organizations traditionally only relocated employees for a specific business need. Perhaps organizations could not find the talent they needed in an area so had to relocate existing or new employees. Also, as companies become more global, the necessity for global coverage with actual staff in specific locations became commonplace. These traditional reasons for domestic relocations and international relocations are still taking place even though many companies have a hybrid or remote working model. WHR Group, Inc. (WHR) alone continues to relocate thousands of its clients’ employees each year to over 120 countries worldwide for a variety of organizations from the US government to Fortune 200 corporations, including companies that allow hybrid or remote work.

With the hybrid and remote working model in place at so many organizations, mobility and HR professionals have a new reason to include employee relocation assistance in employee benefits. WHR has seen a trend with its clients who are using employee relocation as part of an employee attraction and retention strategy. Employees are interested in so much more than just compensation. Given the new working models, employees want to choose where they will work, while others would jump at the opportunity to relocate internationally to work at their organization’s other locations.

In a Prudential’s Road to Resiliency survey, three-quarters of the workers surveyed factored benefits into a decision about staying or leaving a company. In addition to compensation, employees who were planning a job search ranked more flexible work schedules and mobility opportunities very high on their list of priorities, with some remote work options as the most important reasons for them to stay with their current employer. 

The Great Resignation

The “Great Resignation” has created a whole new set of employee retention challenges for organizations. According to Fox Business, a recent survey by The Muse reported that the majority of workers who quit their jobs during the Great Resignation regret doing so. Approximately 72% of the 2,500 millennial and Gen Z job hunters polled said they were surprised by what their new roles entailed or that companies were different from what they were told during the interview process. This trend is just one more reason why having successful strategies in place for employee retention is so critical.

Internal Mobility Programs

In the current war for talent and candidate-driven market, the tables have turned on employers. Now the hiring process is often focused on what the employer can offer the candidate. One such way an employer can win in this war is through internal mobility programs which include, among other things, allowing an employee to advance in their careers, or even change careers, internally as opposed to leaving for another employer. This internal mobility might include relocating the employee to another office if they can grow their career more successfully at another location. The result of this includes decreased employee turnover. This is where global mobility and internal mobility intersect. It makes sense to reassign an employee based on their career interests as opposed to losing the employee to another company, especially if that other company is a competitor.

A recent Forbes article explained it well, “Companies will need to consider a concentrated effort on building a “culture of mobility.” What exactly is a culture of mobility? “A culture of mobility exists when organizational leaders encourage internal career moves that allow for equal opportunities and growth for everyone in the workforce across the organization. Whether recruiting new talent or developing your existing workforce, by enabling employees to build internal career paths, you allow your employees to feel more like a part of your organization’s overall mission and vision.”

Employee Wellness Initiatives to Attract and Retain Talent

The idea of keeping employees happy to retain them is not really a new one but as the talent shortage has increased, employers have been forced to think of new ways to retain and attract employees. According to a Harvard Business Review article, “In 2022, organizations will adopt new employee well-being measures that capture the financial health, mental health, and physical health of their employees to more accurately predict employee performance and retention. Wellness will become the newest metric that companies use to understand their employees. For years, executives have experimented with different metrics, such as employee satisfaction or engagement, to understand their employees. In 2022, organizations will add in new measures that assess their mental, physical, and financial health.” It makes sense that if an employee’s mental or physical health will be improved by allowing them to work from a different location, then employers will need to be sure they have also incorporated employee relocation/global mobility benefits into their strategies.

Moving Forward

What’s the solution to retaining good talent and attracting the best employees to your organization? How do employers overcome the Great Resignation? Will internal mobility programs help keep employees and attract new ones? Does revamping an organization’s wellness strategy help? Since the hybrid and remote working model may be here to stay, consider incorporating employee relocation and global mobility into your company’s attraction and retention strategies.

WHR can help. Please contact us to discuss your employee relocation strategies and policies.

 

WHR CHOOSES WINNERS OF ITS 2022 PARTNER IN QUALITY AWARD

WHR Group, Inc., (WHR) announces its 2022 Partner in Quality Award winners. Recipients are WHR Global Network Partners who exceeded customer satisfaction and service excellence throughout 2021. To be considered for a Partner in Quality Award, a partner must complete at least 20 transactions in the previous year and receive performance rankings within the top one percentile of the relocation partner’s service category. The award winners listed below exceeded WHR’s expectations in cost management, customer satisfaction, quality and supply chain management.

 We are extremely thankful to our entire supplier network, but specifically to these 22 companies that have gone above and beyond from a service and partnership aspect. Their dedication and commitment to excellence has helped WHR Advance Lives Forward® of countless relocating employees.

 2022 Partner in Quality Award Winners (in no particular order)

 Relo Network Asia – Singapore

 Pro Relocation – Bratislava, Slovakia

 Merchants – A Budd Van Lines Division – Racine, WI

 BHHS Georgia Properties – Roswell, GA

 Tiffany Broecker – Stevens Point, WI

 IOR Global Services – Northbrook, IL

 AltoVita – London, England

 Paramount Transportation Systems – Reno, NV

 Suite Home Chicago – Chicago, IL

 Amanda Howard Sotheby’s International Realty – Huntsville, AL

 Apartments in Town – London, UK

 Aaversal Global Relocation – Sumner, WA

 Packimpex – Bern, Switzerland

 Transportation Worldwide, Inc. – Katy, TX

 Isaac’s Moving and Storage – Stoughton, MA

 Boone’s Moving & Storage (Lytle’s Transfer) – Tipton, PA

 Arpin International – West Warwick, RI

 Avery-Hess Realtors, Inc. – Woodbridge, VA

 Ward North American – San Antonio, TX

 LARM USA, Inc. – Coral Springs, FL

 @ Properties – Chicago, IL

 RE/MAX Partners Relocation – Andover, MA

WHR Group Announces International Training Program for its Employees

 On March 1, WHR Group, Inc. (WHR) announced its first-ever global training program for its employees. Staff in WHR’s US, Switzerland and Singapore offices now have the opportunity to visit another global office for up to four weeks as part of a multi-year investment in its employees.

 WHR President Paul De Boer said, “It’s critical to provide these global experiences so our employees can understand the impact their work has on transferring employees and families. It also allows our employees to build personal and business relationships so that everyone can understand their unique role and how it impacts the entire organization.”

 As an eight-time recipient of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Top Workplaces award, WHR recognizes the need to increase communications and meaningful interactions between employees in its global offices. Since WHR has three international offices, WHR’s employees require greater experience and collaboration with their American, European, and Asian counterparts. While emails, instant messages, and calls on Microsoft Teams can be impactful, WHR believes positive work cultures and relationships are best cultivated in person. Through this program, WHR hopes to increase its employee retention/engagement and allow employees to take initiatives on a global scale. This new, bi-annual program is part of WHR’s continuous employee satisfaction process.

 Four WHR employees were chosen in March to participate in the first round of the program. From the US office, one employee will train in Switzerland and one in Singapore, while one employee from Switzerland and Singapore each will train in the US office. WHR will support the employees with fundamental travel, housing and other essential costs so that the employees can focus on training activities/interactions with their colleagues. Each employee will also be assigned an in-office teammate at the location they’re visiting. WHR will choose teammates who strongly exhibit WHR’s core values (empathy, trustworthy, proactive, hardworking and results-driven), and who can share extensive local knowledge with the traveling employee.

 

Interested in joining the global mobility and relocation management leader? View WHR’s open positions at https://www.whrg.com/careers/.  

 See how WHR can transform your employee relocation program. Contact our sales department at sales@whrg.com, or call 262-523-2800.