• Relocation Policy Development from a Blank Slate


    If you were given the opportunity to design a relocation policy, where would you start? What would it look like?

    Some would probably replicate the design already in place while others would make minor changes, but a good number, we believe, would cherish the opportunity to start from scratch.

    In this blog, we will share developments we are seeing in the area of policy design and development; what works well and what doesn’t.  Let’s see where this takes us. Our aim is to start a discussion.

    Evolution: ad hoc to more structured policy

    It is not unusual for companies who have been administering relocations on an informal basis to experience growth and realize that there is a need for a more structured approach that is in line with best practices. They come to recognize the benefits of a fair and consistent policy with relatively predictable costs that is integrated with the company’s overall goals for business development.

    Main drivers

    Satisfying employee needs and managing cost are, in our experience, the main drivers in relocation policy development. The tricky part is obtaining the right balance between the two, particularly given all the variables and challenges that come into play with each relocation.

    Employee needs

    We find that, when reviewing their policies, most employers are seeking flexibility because of the number of unique challenges that arise in the course of relocating employees and their families. While we do hear managers profess that they “treat all employees in the same way”, more often than they would like to admit, special situations occur requiring some justified bending of the rules.

    We have found that introducing a relocation policy with a Core/Flex structure addresses flexibility needs, removes irritants as may be perceived by employees, reduces the number of exception requests, and improves the administration of the program.

    Flexibility in program design must also be supported by suppliers; a challenge for some and a market advantage to others. A number of the established relocation suppliers have embraced this market shift and offer more accommodating administrative processes.

    Cost management

    Establishing the cost/benefit of relocations involves evaluating a variety of linked operational activities against corporate objectives, from operational growth and effectiveness to employee development and succession planning.

    Some companies are managing costs by providing more targeted benefits through tiered programs. A recent graduate will have very different needs and drivers than an experienced mid-career new hire. Senior executives may require more specialized support than other employee categories. Costs can be managed by targeting the availability of relocation services to those more likely to consider these benefits key to accepting a relocation, either as an existing employee or a new hire.

    Adding a Core/Flex structure to the program, as noted earlier, also helps reduce costs as well as add much appreciated flexibility. While working within a fixed budgeted amount, the employee can reassign the cost of unused services to supplement the cost of those desired.

    Where would you start?

    With the above in mind, and based on your varied experiences, if you could start from scratch, what features would you include? How would you approach the following?

    • Guaranteed Home Sale Plan: is there a better way to provide some comfort to employees while reducing the risk to employers?
    • Reimbursement of commission on home sale: Does this benefit make sense? Why should the employee gain what he or she would otherwise have to pay in any other situation?
    • Spousal Employment Counselling: Is offering $1,500 to pay for résumé preparation the way to go in 2018?
    • Destination Services: Is enough attention paid to the importance of this service to the success of a relocation?
    • Inspection fees: Should this be prioritized as part of a risk-management strategy?
    • Move of household goods: Should DIY type moves as well as “u-load/unload it” containers or assisted loading options be promoted or even rewarded if chosen?

    There are many more ideas worth considering. So let’s get a discussion going. What are your views on relocation policy development and design? What would your ideal policy look like?

    Email me at john@wardofarrell.com and let us know.  We will follow up with a new blog based on your input.