Trends in Relocation Services

Weichert Corporate Relocation Survey Reveals Less Policy Change, More Focus on Talent Management and ROI. With the recession behind them, corporati

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Article contributed by Weichert Relocation Services, Inc., September 2011

Weichert Corporate Relocation Survey Reveals Less Policy Change, More Focus on Talent Management and ROI.

With the recession behind them, corporations are making fewer changes to their relocation policies and placing more focus on talent management, according to a new survey from Weichert Relocation Resources Inc. (WRRI).

Now in its fifth year, WRRI’s Mobility and the Current Real Estate Market survey has become the definitive guide to corporate relocation trends and best practices. Results of the 2011 edition capture input from approximately 200 U.S.-based relocation and HR professionals responsible for over 43,000 annual moves, and reveal a steep drop in the rate of policy change. Only 61 percent of companies made changes to their relocation policies in 2011, compared to 90 percent in 2010 and 92 percent in 2009.

“A slowly recovering economy, slightly improved employment picture and steadier housing markets have brought some much-needed stability to corporate relocation,” said Ellie Sullivan, vice president of consulting with WRRI and architect of the survey. “As a result, our survey shows that companies are spending less time reacting to economic conditions and more time refining candidate selection and assessment approaches to meet long-term cost savings and talent management goals.”

Among those companies that did make changes, the most common concerned the marketing and sale of employee real estate, which constitutes one of the largest relocation cost drivers for most organizations:
  • The number of companies enforcing a minimum marketing period before employees can accept a guaranteed offer jumped from 75 percent last year to 88 percent.
  • Ten percent increased the time or amount of temporary living coverage for employees who have difficulty selling their homes.
  • Stemming from significant declines in home values, 43 percent of companies allow current homeowners to become renters or otherwise delay home sale or purchase.
  • Eleven percent added or tightened list price guidelines.
The study also found companies becoming increasingly strategic when it comes to their relocation programs, evidenced by a number of policy enhancements that place greater emphasis on risk management and return on investment:
  • More than half of the surveyed companies offer pre-decision services to give the candidate and the employer more insight into the financial impact of a move and better gauge the probability of success before the relocation is accepted.
  • Eighty-two percent of companies enforce payback agreements that hold employees accountable for reimbursing the costs of their moves if they leave the company within a specific timeframe after being relocated.
  • Thirty-nine percent of companies maintain tiered homesale policies that afford them flexibility to offer different benefits to specific employee demographics.
“The results of our survey reflect the expanding role of the corporate relocation professional,” said Sullivan. “In addition to their day-to-day focus on the bottom line, relocation and HR managers are thinking more strategically about the cost implications of each move beyond the move itself. Accordingly, we expect the alignment of relocation and talent management, already evident in pre-decision programs and payback agreements, to grow stronger in the coming years.”

Copies of the complete survey results can be obtained by emailing solutions@wrri.com.