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Adopting a human-centered approach to employee relocation

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When it comes to employee relocation, most organizations focus on the nuts and bolts, thinking strategically about the costs associated with the move and what will be the most affordable option to get their people from point A to point B. It makes sense from a business perspective, but it’s not how to make a relocation successful.

Employers have to remember they are moving people, not just boxes. Any time you deal with people, you need to adopt a human-centered approach. Relocation is not an easy undertaking. While you’re helping them get their belongings from one place to the next, they’re dealing with switching insurances, licenses and addresses. If they have a family, they need to enroll their children in new schools, find doctors and a new job for their spouse or partner. On top of that, they might be dealing with some negative emotions from their family, unhappy with the move. All of this can influence how your employee feels about their new position and how they assimilate into their new role.

When surveying employees, the Atlas Relocation Survey finds that the number one reason for relocation refusal is family issues or ties. The next top response is a spouse or partner’s employment. This tells us that employees’ concerns are not as focused on the logistics of the move, but more so on the emotional toll associated with it. That’s why employee relocation EQ is so important.

What’s Employee Relocation EQ?
Relocation IQ involves the data or rational side of a relocation. It includes everything from moving household goods to finding a place to live. Relocation EQ is the emotional aspects of a move like family and spousal support or intercultural training. Both are important, but they deal with very different areas of the brain.

Certainty is one of the key domains that influence behavior, according to neuroscientist David Rock. But there is a lot of uncertainty in a relocation. It’s almost a guarantee that something will go wrong, and when it does, relocation EQ is what will reign in those strong, negative emotions.

Why Should Businesses Care?
As companies globalize and compete aggressively for top talent, talent mobility strategies will become more imperative. Organizations can no longer locally source and hire enough people with all the capabilities they need, and opportunities to move will need to extend to workers of all levels. Career development is a top driver for millennials, and mobility and career development go hand-in-hand. This workforce is looking for ways to develop their skills, and relocating within an organization is a great way to do that. Having a streamlined mobility process between functions, jobs and projects, as well as geographies, will be paramount for organizations.

How to Implement Employee Relocation EQ
Whether you’re in the market for a relocation service partner or currently have one, there are questions employers should ask to ensure your process has taken relocation EQ into consideration. For example, who will handle the spouse and family integration? How will you help your employee’s spouse/partner assimilate successfully? Does the spouse/partner have a career? Does the spouse/partner want to work in the destination city? If so, does he/she need job search assistance?

There are so many things that can go wrong during a relocation. Every issue will contribute to an employee’s feeling of fear and feel like a threat to their sense of security. How issues are handled will directly influence an employee’s overall feelings about starting work in the new location.

Employee relocation EQ helps save organizations money from a recruitment and retention standpoint. Don’t risk losing your best talent because your relocation process solely focuses on the logistics. Employee relocation EQ is an investment in your team and their overall experience at your company. Remember, one bad move can impact your business’s reputation for years to come.

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