The employer’s role in relocation

Imagine you've been just offered a great new job with a fantastic company halfway across the country and your new job starts in 4 weeks. Not only do you need to wrap up and pack up your life but now you need to find a place to live and rebuild your life in a completely new city. Now imagine that move with a spouse or family in tote or better yet, imagine that city is in another country.

Now imagine that this person, a star in their field, is your employee - one that you invested a considerable amount of time and resources to recruit. Consider the stress they may be under, and their feelings of isolation and disorientation. As their employer, how will you manage and support them through this transition? What will you do to help? Is giving them a lump sum allowance going to cover off what they will need as a family to make a smooth transition? Where does your duty of care begin and end?

Expectation versus reality

There are no easy answers. Ahead of departure, people who relocate have skewed perceptions of the experience ahead. So too do employers. But as an employer it’s helpful to consider what’s actually happening in the minds of your new recruits: On one side, they might be wondering if they can handle the job, if they will be a good fit and if the move will be worth the headache. But moreover, they will also be wondering about things like will their family settle-in well? Will their spouse land a position in their field, can they live here in the same way that they did before? Will they find the right neighbourhood to live?

Did I make the right choice?

There is a tremendous opportunity for success when you take care to consider what’s at stake for your new employee, particularly outside of the office. And a significant risk if you don’t. Yet, many employers miss this important piece in the transition process.

It’s said that countless micro challenges make up the larger strain and stress of life in a new place. Your employee will be adjusting to new environments on multiple fronts and at a rapid pace. They're trying to meet expectations at work, with a new team and a new culture, while keeping things stable at home during a period of significant change. At the same time, as a sought after recruit, they’re meant to be unflappable and strong on all fronts. There is plenty of complexity in this type of situation.

Next to death and divorce, relocation is one of the top stressors for individuals and families, yet we often see very little attention paid by employers to address what’s happening behind the scenes once your new recruit accepts the job and decides to relocate. Do you know how well the move is going or how well they are faring once they are here?

It’s about PEOPLE

It’s time to talk about employer responsibility when it comes to employee relocation. The conversation is simple: it’s about taking care of people. And while many employers may believe that this can all be easily solved with a lump sum payment to cover the hard costs of making the move, it does not take away from the reality that everything that your new recruit knew, the comforts, sense of security and safety they enjoyed in their home city has essentially disappeared.

Relocation services like CityMatch will help you to compete for blue chip recruits, but these “recruits” are human beings. And human beings, even longstanding employees, will bring to the office the weight and baggage of what’s happening in their lives.

Treating top talent as an investment, and watching this bear fruit in the form of productivity and efficiency is simply good business. One of the major outcomes of our services at CityMatch is a well-settled, productive employee. But if you only see this employee based on the outlay for their salary and relocation expenses, you may be doing them a disservice. A person's ability to settle in a new place can never be fully quantified. Part of their well being is your responsibility.

So how does your company support its relocating employees? Is well-being part of the plan when you are planning for transition success?



Watch for warning signs that things may not be right with your employee, both physically and mentally.:

  • Poor job performance - the most obvious sign;

  • Trouble getting to work on time, or leaving early;

  • Low energy or unusual signs of fatigue;

  • Mood swings and aversion to social contact;

Arrange some time to speak with them. Chances are high that mixed emotions, stress and apprehension are all bubbling away just below the surface. And with good reason.

Offer your patience and support and treat your new employee with empathy. Reach out. Check in. If you’re too busy, empower people who will.

The investment will be well worth it. Good luck!