Is your company relocating employees to a new city, state, or country? If so, it’s up to you as an HR professional to assist them as they navigate the process.
Your responsibilities might include helping them find places to stay, finding family support resources, and getting them settled at their new office. Put simply, it’s an important (and potentially overwhelming) job.
To make the employee relocation as simple as possible (for everyone), start with the guidelines discussed below.
Assessing Employee Needs
First, focus on the employee’s needs during the relocation process. What kind of support do they need throughout this period?
Common Relocation Concerns
When an employee relocates, they likely have concerns about where they will live, what schools their children will attend, whether their spouse will be able to find a job in the area, and how long they have to plan and prepare before they have to start working in the new location.
You and your fellow HR professionals can provide a lot of support to relocating employees and mitigate many of these concerns.
For example, you can offer guidance for canceling leases, selling homes, and finding a new apartment or house. You can also research schools in the area to find the best ones for their kids and look for job openings in the employee’s spouse’s field.
When in Doubt, Over Communicate
Constant communication is critical during an employee relocation.
Talk to your employee about their concerns and needs (as well as their family’s concerns and needs). Share what you’ve learned from your research and use their feedback to refine your approach and guide them through apartment hunting, job searches, school selection, etc.
Communicate via email as much as possible. Putting everything in writing allows you to create a paper trail and provides essential points of reference throughout the process.
Don’t forget about the legal and compliance issues related to employee relocation. Here are some of the most important ones to keep in mind:
Letter of Agreement
Be sure to provide a formal letter of agreement to relocate.
This document is the first official point of communication between you and the employee. It should outline the details and policies related to the move (including what you can and can’t do to assist the employee).
Taxes questions and concerns are sure to arise throughout the transition, too, particularly when it comes to moving to places with different tax rates. Arrange for the employee to talk to a tax professional to ensure you and your employee abide by all state regulations (especially for more complex issues like home sales and purchases). Help them understand if any of their moving expenses are tax deductible.
Don’t forget to protect employee personal data, too, especially if you’re using vendors to assist with the relocation.
When working with vendors, you will likely share your team member’s personal information. You must do your due diligence when choosing vendors to ensure you’re working with trustworthy companies that take security seriously.
Many organizations lose their investments when employees leave their new location shortly after moving.
You might include a payback clause in the relocation agreement to protect your company from this issue. This clause states that the employee must reimburse the company for all or some of their move-related expenses if they leave within a specific period (often 12-18 months).
Financial and Benefits Management
Your employee will likely have many questions about money and benefits.
For example, how will their salary or insurance plan change when they move to a new place? What kind of assistance will they get with moving expenses or purchasing a new home?
The following are some of the most critical financial and benefits-related issues HR professionals should remember:
Monetary incentives are often a significant factor in employee relocation decisions.
Examples might include cost-of-living salary adjustments and additional relocation bonuses. These incentives are particularly prevalent in states with higher tax rates.
Buying and Selling Homes
You and your team may want to offer assistance to employees when it comes to marketing and selling their homes and getting pre-qualified for a mortgage in their new location. You may even need to arrange to purchase the house if it doesn’t sell within a specific time period.
Other employees may request legal help when it comes to breaking their lease and finding a new apartment or rental home.
Moving costs money, especially long-distance moves.
Your company may offer reimbursement for costs related to house hunting, paying for a temporary living space, or transporting belongings. You can also offer a lump sum if you prefer (which saves you from having to haggle over every little expense or keep detailed records and receipts).
Some companies offer spousal assistance as an additional incentive to employees who are relocating. This assistance helps make up for the loss of their spouse’s salary while they find a new job.
Getting Comfortable in a New Place
You’re well-acquainted with the importance of onboarding and integration when new people join your company. Your employees need this same level of support even when they’re sticking with the company and moving to a new office.
Coordinate with the HR professionals at the new location to ensure the employee gets properly introduced when they arrive. They should have a chance to meet new team members, learn about the company’s unique policies, and get settled in before they hit the ground running.
Check in with the employee regularly, too.
Find out how they’re doing, how their family is adjusting, and if they need any additional guidance or support. They might not technically be within your purview anymore, but it helps to let them know that you still care and want them to succeed in their new location.
Simplify the Employee Relocation Process
It’s normal to feel daunted by all the tasks you have to complete when relocating an employee (especially when you factor in issues like moving expenses, home sales, and spousal support).
Remember the guidelines discussed above, though, and you’ll have a much easier time supporting them through the transition and avoiding unnecessary stress.