In talking with relocating employees and spouses, we’ve heard it all – the excitement as well as the fears about moving to the new location, concerns about the kids, anxiety about the spouse’s career. It’s often things they have never had to think about before, like pet transportation! All of these things amount to stress during the relocation. Our experience proves there are ways you can help your transferees manage all the to-dos and settle into their new role faster.
1. Set Relocation Priorities at the Office & Home
Before anyone can get started with their move, there is a really important and deceptively simple step that can help streamline a lot of their decisions…setting priorities. A lack of planning can turn the excitement into stress and confusion.
Considering the family’s holistic needs, encourage the relocating employee to think through these areas:
- Location – Factors employees may need to consider include housing, neighborhoods, schools, culture, and even commute.
- Relationships – These play a vital role to our wellbeing. Employees need a plan for building new friendships and getting to know their new team.
- Financial and Legal – These priorities are likely personal, but having an awareness around them can help you pick up on stressor cues from the employee.
- Career – Taking both the employee and the spouse’s careers into consideration during the relocation is important for the family’s success.
- Lifestyle – Building a lifestyle that is familiar and fulfills the physical and emotional needs of everyone in the home can take time. It’s essential for employees to find time to think through their top needs.
Encouraging your employee to set priorities upfront and maintaining good communication with your relocating employee will help everyone feel more focused and aligned.
2. Create a Moving Timeline for Relocating Employees
Moving timelines are not new to any of you, but they help families go from a state of chaos to calm. Relocating domestically involves putting all of the pieces together about 6 weeks prior to the move. The global moving timeline looks slightly different from the domestic one, usually starting about 6 months prior to the move. It is important to help families plan ahead of their move. Providing them the opportunity to visit the new country will enable them to understand life in general, the culture, schools, and temporary housing options.
One thing I encourage all relocating employees and spouses to not pack is a negative attitude! While relocation can be scary and the fear of the unknown very daunting – remind families to remain positive and calm. Make them aware of the up’s and down’s they may encounter along the way so they can anticipate roadblocks.
3. Manage Split Family Stressors During a Relocation
Many times the transferring employee has a transfer date that requires him/her to move before the rest of the family. Even the most exciting moves may include this time away from each other, which is an adjustment for all.
In our experience, the percentage of families living apart for a period of time can be up to 30%. Typically, this time apart takes place near the beginning and end of the year so children can finish the school year and families can spend time together for the holidays. The time apart varies by family, but we’ve seen it extend up to 1 year.
So how can this impact a relocating employee? There can be a feeling of isolation with no familiar support system. We recently worked with a family who was moving to Italy. There were visa issues that delayed the family’s ability to move. The employee traveled back and forth every month for a period of time to see his spouse and 3 young children.
These family splits can be expensive, exhausting, demanding, and distractors to the employee’s transition into the new role. The more you know and are aware of these situations, the more supported and engaged the employee will be at work.
4. Support Relocating Employees with Settling into the New Job & Community
It’ll take a while for a new place to feel like home or to feel comfortable in a new job. That process can be sped up by making connections early on – possibly even before someone feels “ready” to.
Relocations bring a roller coaster of emotions, often changing daily. Respondents to our People Perspective on Relocation survey reported that excitement remained high throughout the process. Yet 21% rate fear as high before the move also. For many, loneliness doubles after the move. This data proves it’s valuable to have a pulse on whether the relocating employee you are working with are heading toward happiness or loneliness.
Find ways to assess emotional states and ensure they are tapping into all of the resources that you have made available to them, including coaching services on integrating into the community and role. A robust relocation package that addresses the personal side of a move pays off in big ways. In fact, 75% of relocating employees who receive integration support state they are highly engaged after the move. While most of the U.S. and abroad are experiencing a depressing 15-33% employee engagement rate, these employees are thriving despite the upheaval. Seventy-three percent (73%) of them report being more productive at work as a result of these services, as well.
5. Spouses – Start Job Search Before Moving
As you all know dual-income families are today’s norm. For many spouses, the first question they will ask when they learn of the relocation offer is, “Will I be able to continue my career in the new area?” Having a meaningful conversation with the employee about their spouse’s job search needs is certainly helpful.
For any assignment to be successful, the spouse/partner’s career is one of the top factors. It’s best for spouses to start their search before the relocation takes place. Preparing their resume and LinkedIn profile early on allows them to be at the ready when they find promising job leads. It’s also important to start researching the job market, industries, and top employers in the new area.
Our data shows the average salary of the spouse/partner is $71,500. The longer it takes for a spouse to find a new position, the harder it is on the family’s finances. Adequate support ensures both the employee and spouse thrive in their career.
Explore 4 surprising findings about the employee relocation experience.