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 or 800-523-2800.

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