The Best Ways to Approach Employee Relocation

Talent attraction and retention are the number one priority for organizations, and an effective relocation policy and package are among the bee’s knees towards reaching that goal.

Relocation assistance can show new hires and current employees that you care, and that is the main objective of incentives.

A well-designed relocation policy should be in place to ensure that the right people are at the right place and at the right time. Relocation is critical to a smooth job flow.

Here’s how to best approach employee relocation

While there is no magic formula when designing a relocation policy, the following elements can be beneficial:

Have a written policy

A written relocation program establishes clear rules and demonstrates equality, and shows that your organization does not treat some employees better than others. Favoritism can kill the morale and job satisfaction of your employees.

Another benefit of a written policy is communication. Employees know what to expect in advance, and they can adequately prepare.

Organizations should create relocation policies that fit their own needs. While there’s considerable pressure to trim costs, metrics such as the cost-benefits analysis should hold water when designing the relocation programs. Look at the current real estate costs and state taxes.

Sometimes, temporary relocation may be a better option where the goal is to reduce costs as much as possible.

Communication of the relocation policy

The relocation program is an incentive, and employees should see it that way. Therefore, communication of the program to employees is vital to show that the company cares about them. It also lets the employees know the benefits they qualify for.

Poor communication of the policy can have negative ramifications. It can cause low productivity due to stress, high turnover, and refusal to relocate.

Channels for communication can include relocation agreements signed at hiring, company website, intrasite, and employee manuals and booklets. Use the debriefing communication after the relocation to gauge how successful the relocation process was. Are there areas that need improvement?

Relocation bonuses

Monetary incentives usually bill and coo the employees to relocate. While the size of the package depends on the job market, relocation bonuses and pay adjustments to reflect the cost of living is standard. Pay adjustments can be pretty effective in states where tax rates are higher.

Site visits

Relocation programs allow employees a few days off to tour the community, see the office, search houses and learn about the schools. The length of the site visits will depend on the distance employees have to cover and the activities they need to accomplish.

Help with home selling and purchase

Selling a home on short notice and buying another one can take a significant chunk of time. The employer has better resources to pull it off better than the employees. It should be part of the relocation program.

Other areas the relocation program can cover include the legal aspects of relocating. The company lawyer can help cancel the leases and take up new ones. These incentives can be the difference between employees accepting to relocate or not.

Moving expenses

Employers can arrange with moving companies or reimburse the costs associated with relocation. Alternatively, you can choose to forego reimbursement and instead focus on upfront lump-sum payments to cover everything. Lump-sum payments are better as they reduce time wasted haggling over the expense amounts.

Payback clauses

Companies lose a lot in relocation expenses when employees leave employment soon after relocating. The relocation program should have safeguards to protect the organization against such losses. For example, include a clause detailing how the organization can recoup the relocation expenses when the employees leave within a predetermined period.

Specify the period within which it is applicable. In most cases, it is 18 months. The clauses are prevalent in industries with high turnover rates.

Confirm that the state law allows payback clauses before you include them.

Support for the whole family

Most organizations tend to overlook the disruptions associated with relocations. Moving can cause spousal friction when a partner cannot move because of their job, and other issues such as elderly care of the parents can complicate the process.

An effective relocation policy makes the process easier for everyone in the family. The program can help spouses with job hunting in the area they are moving into, give the employee sufficient time for school hunting, and even help find appropriate care homes for the seniors in the family.

Since every employee will have varying needs, it’s essential to discuss the support they need. The relocation program should have a bit of flexibility, but be careful not to show favoritism.


The relocation policy is as crucial as other incentive programs to motivate employees, attract talent and reduce turnover rates. Ensure the policy addresses issues such as relocation expenses, family support, bonuses to relocate, and help with selling and purchasing homes. More importantly, communicate the policy to the employees.

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan