Corporate Relocation: What is Integration?

In the context of a corporate relocation, what is integration? Multiple moving parts make up a job relocation – from home purchasing/selling to immigration/visa assistance to household goods shipping. Outside of these practical relocation assistance services, there are specific programs that focus on the family’s integration needs in the new community.

How Integration Applies to Corporate Relocation

Integration programs are comprised of coaching and resources to develop and implement a strategy to positively transition into a new community. In other words, integration services help families and individuals feel at home again. This is from a practical, social, professional, and well-being perspective.

73% of employees reported being more productive at work thanks to integration assistance1

Historically, U.S. domestic relocation policies only formally addressed integration needs (outside of home finding and area tours) with spousal assistance. This assistance provided job search and career assistance for the spouse/partner who gave up their job for the corporate relocation. In the long run, families and even single employees needed integration assistance, as expressed in relocation trends. (Masuma, a single mom, shares why these services were crucial for her.)

Integration Needs Top List of Corporate Relocation Refusal Reasons

For years, “Family Issues/Ties” has topped the list of reasons for relocation refusal.2 Corporations began to expand spousal assistance provisions to include the option for employee and family integration assistance because of their need to make a smooth and successful transition into the new community. However, this expansion was often still managed within the established spousal assistance monetary expense limit. As a result, there was a widening of the eligible population because it wasn’t limited to those with spouses who were job seeking.

In global assignment and permanent transfer policies, support to address long-term integration needs was somewhat more in-depth. There was cultural and language training, in addition to spousal assistance. However, the expansion of the spousal assistance provision to include employee and family integration assistance has increased over the years.

Integration Services Lead to Positive Corporate Relocation Experiences

Relocation assistance that includes integration services is noted to have a positive effect on the overall corporate relocation experience. From a survey of 3,078 relocating individuals and families2, 80% of families reported integration services helped them save time during the move. In addition, 73% of employees reported being more productive at work thanks to the services.

Common Misunderstandings about Integration Assistance

When people consider what is integration, they often confuse the services with a Destination Service Provider (DSP) or see them as a duplication. The same is true of cultural training.

Coaching that directly addresses the emotional and personal nuances and needs of all family members during the relocation.

DSPs coordinate many critical aspects of the move, like home search, school search, initial registrations (bank accounts and driver’s licenses), and area orientation. These one-time services are offered over the course of a few days. They are essential to get your employee and his/her family initially settled, but they do not focus on the on-going, long-term integration needs of the entire family.

Cultural training helps employees understand the cultural differences between their home country and host country. Through these services, they gain an awareness of professional and social standards, practices, and customs. In addition, they are delivered early in the transition and are not a resource available for many months beyond the initial settling-in period.

The Benefits of Understanding, “What is Integration?”

Social and professional connections improve a person’s well-being. Positive well-being leads to consistent and productive performance at work. Not everyone knows how to create new connections, find a new job, support a child’s transition, or anticipate challenges. All of these arise during a corporate relocation. Relocation assistance that guides individuals and families to navigate these areas and so many more minimizes their frustration, disappointment, and challenges.

A mass of time-sensitive tactical/logistical arrangements often overshadow important things. An integration coach is key to revealing what shouldn’t be overlooked. Those things often dominate a transferee’s and spouse’s attention during a corporate relocation, making integration assistance a critical success factor at a relatively low investment.

What Integration Assistance Entails

The overwhelming “to do” list during a corporate relocation often reaches beyond the household walls and hinders your employee’s performance at work. Integration assistance provides the employee with a one-on-one coach to assess his or her needs and address the high-priority items that are pressing into his or her time at the office. Proactive coaching guides the employee on what to pay attention to during the relocation so he or she does not lose sight of important areas in life.

The essentials the employee and family need to feel at home again are discussed with a dedicated coach. Key focus areas include developing a transition plan for everyone in the home, processing and working through change, establishing goals, and identifying local resources. Integration assistance is there to take these items off your employee’s plate and organize his/her ever-expanding list of “to dos.”

80% of families report integration assistance helped them save time1

The Business Impacts of Offering Integration Assistance

Transferees who transition quickly and smoothly (and whose family does the same) are able to contribute and be productive at work more quickly after a move. Along with this, they are more likely to feel positive about the relocation experience. Providing robust relocation assistance that includes integration is important to your employee experience initiatives and fulfills your company’s overall duty-of-care.

Proof of the impact includes:

  • 73% of employees report being more productive at work thanks to integration assistance1
  • 92% consider their relocation a success1
  • 82% would relocate again1
  • 92% are happy1


Discover more relocation insights as you ponder, “What is integration?”

Download our People Perspective on Relocation Report to understand the employee experience during corporate relocation through their eyes. Get your copy here!

1 People Perspective on Relocation, IMPACT Group, 2018
2 Atlas Van Lines Corporate Relocation Survey, 2019