Relocation & HR Trends

Chicago Tech Scene: News From the Week

Posted by Kinga Ricci on May 27, 2016 9:30:00 AM

chicago tech sceneChicago’s thriving tech scene is where it’s at!

With so much going on, how can you keep up?

UrbanBound’s weekly Chicago tech news blog is here to help. We bring you the top stories from the week.

Catch up on the news you may have missed this week:

UrbanBound is a Finalist for Most Disruptive Startup and Best Company Culture

UrbanBound is thrilled to be a finalist in Built in Chicago’s 2016 Moxie Awards in 2 categories: Most Disruptive Startup and Best Company Culture!

In their 5th year, the Moxie Awards honor the best in Chicago Tech. Comprised of 14 award categories, the celebration puts a spotlight on innovation. For one night, the top innovators of our city come together.

UrbanBound is being recognized for bringing innovation to the relocation industry with our Relocation Management Software. Forever changing the way companies relocate talent, UrbanBound streamlines the relocation process for newly hired and transferring employees.

Also, our co-founders have built a work environment of trust, transparency, hard work and fun. The company culture at UrbanBound is one of the reasons we enjoy creating and building innovative solutions for employee relocation!

Check out all the awesome Chicago-based companies that were nominated: Congratulations to the finalists of the 2016 Moxie Awards!

Cast your votes and show some love for the Chicago Tech Scene!

You Can Now Reserve a Seat at the Bar

Warm weather is finally here, and I speak for all Chicagoans when I say“it couldn’t come soon enough!”

With warmer chicago tech sceneweather, comes the out pouring of people heading to patios, bars, and restaurants.

Find a seat may become hard — unless of course you use OpenTable to secure a reservation.

Now OpenTable wants to give Chicagoans more options with a new feature released in Chicago that will allow diners to book the bar.

"We estimate that non-standard seating options like bar, patio, communal tables, and high-tops make up between 12 to 15 percent of restaurant inventory in the US," said Eli Chait, Director of Product at OpenTable. "These seats are typically empty despite being highly coveted, as some diners actually prefer a seat in the center of the action. The Table Categories feature in OpenTable Guest Center gives restaurants a tool to easily provide additional reservation and seating options to diners looking to enjoy a full meal."

DRIVIN Towards Success

DRIVIN, a premier service for automotive dealers that utilizes data to help sell, source, acquire, and deliver quality used vehicles for its dealer partners, today announced in a statement that it has raised an additional $7.5 million in equity capital.

"DRIVIN is the first-of-its-kind to supply unique information and true marketplace buying power to its dealers when trading used cars,” said Eric Lefkofsky, initial investor and Chairman of the Board in a statement. "The company focuses on data-driven technology, proprietary inventory analysis, and personalized and experienced customer service. These strategies help dealers more efficiently buy and sell vehicles to create their optimal lot and quickly increase profitability.”

Wish there was more!? Don’t worry and keep on reading:

UIUC to Start Dual Degree in Engineering and Entrepreneurship Chicago Inno

Stuff your stuff and make experiences count, says Groupon Crain’s Chicago Business

Glassdoor CEO gives the lowdown on Chicago Crain’s Chicago Business

A device to help you better track your health Crain’s Chicago Business

Chicago Internet of Things startup raises $4.8 million Crain’s Chicago Business

Chicago-based Invenergy wants to power New York City Chicago Business

Here are the finalists in the 20th annual New Venture Challenge Built in Chicago


Moxie Awards UrbanBound



Topics: Technology, Chicago

How to Avoid the Dangers of A Last-Minute Relocation Program

Posted by Lauren Decker on May 26, 2016 8:55:39 AM


We’ve all been there—the moment when we’re handed a task that’s not that important...until it is.

Relocation can sometimes fall into this same trap. If your company isn’t currently hiring new employees from outside your local area, or doesn’t have multiple offices to transfer employees between, then having a relocation program in place probably isn’t at the top of your priority list.

However, when left unattended, some of these “non-urgent” tasks can become a high priority quickly, and possibly end up taking more of your time than they would have if you had completed the work ahead of time. Relocation also falls into this category. Without proper planning, relocations can become an enormous task with enormous impacts—for both you and your company.

Let’s say you are tasked with handling the first relocation at the company. This person is relocating from San Francisco to Los Angeles. They are a campus who is going to drive their belongings. They have simply requested some financial assistance to cover their enroute expenses. To keep things easy, you’ve decided to just provide them with a lump sum of money.

As you grow your campus recruiting program, you’ve decided to expand recruitment and are now relocating a few hires a year from across the country. Your latest group of campus hires are coming from New York, Dallas, Chicago, and San Francisco. These campus hires need more help moving their belongings and have expressed need for more funds than originally allotted because their distance is longer. You’ve decided to provide them with a larger lump sum to cover their household goods expenses, but you are also allowing them to book travel through your internal department.

Fast forward a few years, you are now relocating various positions across your company. You are offering lump sums to cover expenses, travel is booked through internal teams, and all questions from relocating employees are coming to you. Your relocation program is now supporting several relocations, you feel like you need more resources to support company moves, and on top of all that your manager has just asked you to reduce relocation costs as part of a larger company initiative to control spending.


This isn’t a situation anyone wants to be in, but unfortunately, it’s an easy trap to fall into. As soon as your start offering ad hoc relocation benefits, it can be a slippery slope to a program where you’re unclear of what your spending is or what type of experience your relocating employees are receiving compared to others in your industry.

As you can see, the impacts of not having a solid relocation program in place before you start relocating employees affects more than just that first relocation. It can actually affect all your subsequent relocations as well.

However, this can be avoided if you’re willing to put in a little upfront work to properly build out your relocation policies. It can be difficult to anticipate your needs 2, 5, and 10 years out, but there are some tactics you can use to help you provide appropriate benefits for your initial relocations and beyond.

First of all, start early.

Creating a relocation policy is key, even if you’re just relocating a few employees a year.  If you’re not ready to draft a detailed policy, start with guidelines that state who is eligible for relocation benefits and what those benefits include.

Putting this in writing helps set proper expectations for internal stakeholders and your employees. It also ensures that your relocation program is equitable to employees. If you don’t put these guidelines in writing, it’s easy to give employees ad hoc benefits that may or may not be equitable.

Second, consider including direct bill benefits in your relocation policy or guidelines.

Direct bill benefits are scalable, provide a proven process for employees, and help you take advantage of tax savings via IRS guidelines. Utilizing direct bill benefits means that your company, usually with help from a third party who specializes in this process, pays suppliers directly for employee relocation services.

Companies often allow employees to choose which relocation categories (shipment of household goods, final travel, temporary housing, etc.) can be booked via direct bill and provides a cap for the total amount. This allows the employees to choose how they want to use their benefits, while also helping you contain costs. As you start to scale your relocation program, you can set different caps for different populations or tiers.

Lastly, make sure you get buy-in from all relevant stakeholders.

Setting expectations internally can be just as important as setting expectations with your relocating employees. In addition to your HR team, be sure to talk to your payroll team. Some relocation expenses are considered taxable, so you’ll want to make sure your payroll team has a plan for how to handle any tax implications. If you want to instate a repayment agreement, you may want to also reach out to your legal team to help you draft or approve the agreement.

Depending on how your company uses relocation, you should also familiarize employees who are helping administer the relocation policy. For example, if you typically relocate new hires, you may want to talk to your recruiting team and make sure they understand the relocation program you’ve put in place.

With some proper preparation, you can avoid the pitfalls of creating a relocation program on the fly. Putting together a program “last minute” or right before a move will undoubtedly results in unwanted consequences for you and your relocating employees. Consider leveraging these tips to make sure your team is prepped and ready to go for your next influx of relocations!


professional services and relocation

Topics: Policy, Relocation

Uncover the 3 Reasons Why Your Law Firm Should Better Leverage Relocation This Year

Posted by Aria Solar on May 25, 2016 1:32:07 PM

relocation for law firms

Summer is already upon us, and that means we've (most likely) completed the process of securing our interns, associates, and seasonal employees. 

The tough part is over—you sourced your candidates, interviewed them, extended an offer, and they accepted.

Now comes the part where they give back to you, providing a summer's worth of hard work and dedication to your firm. 

Hang on though, this doesn't mean you get to wipe your hands clean just yet. 

After all of that hard work, you have a huge opportunity to make the results last far beyond just those 3 summer months, and that opportunity begins with a thorough and organized relocation process. 

There are a few reasons why this can be so impactful, and we're going to go over three of the most noteworthy reasons your law firm should consider investing more time into your relocation process this summer and moving forward. 

1. Ease the Transition for Summer Associates to First-Year Associates 

Think about the process you went through to find your group of Summer Associates. We'd venture to say you dedicated a lot of time sorting through candidates and identifying those who would be the best fit your open positions—this qualifying process is important.

If you are going to spend the time training and educating someone in your industry, you want to make sure that you're getting as much out of it as they are.

That being said, it's a huge benefit to prime these Summer Associates for full-time positions after they complete school—it gives your program a significant ROI that is otherwise hard to measure. If you're able to bring back previous associates or interns into fill full-time positions, the onboarding and training process is already underway. You don't have to start from square one, they already know the lay of the land. 

Employment is a two-way street though, and they have to want you as much as you want them. One of the best ways to ensure this is to make sure all employees leave your firm after the summer with a positive attitude and hopeful future. One of the biggest influencers of this is going to be their first and last impressions—both of which are often relocation. 

We tend to overlook our intern and Associate-level employees when it comes to providing relocation assistance, assuming they don't need help. However, we should be taking the exact opposite approach, because, the earlier on you give support and assistance, the less you'll have to do on the back-end. 

If you spend the time to relocate your Summer Associates the right way, providing a cohesive relocation program that addresses things like housing, neighborhoods, city information, cost-of-living, night life, and anything else a person might need to know when moving to a new city, they'll have a good feel for what a full-time career there looks like.

That way, when it comes time to extend a full-time position to summer employees, they'll already be old pros at moving to your city and navigating their way around. You won't have to start from scratch—they'll already have a feel for what they need to get done, how much things cost, the timeline, and your office's culture.

At that point, all the work you did in the beginning pays off—and in a very big way.

2. Diversify Yourself From Competition

You know the story. Competition (especially in bigger cities and along the coasts) in this industry is fierce. The war for talent is more prevalent than ever before, and that means we have to fight hard to win over our candidates. 

One of the best ways you can do this is to offer something your competition isn't—and relocation assistance is a great place to start. 

If you're offering the exact same things as every other law firm to fresh talent straight from law school, you better believe they'll be making a pro and con list. If your firm is able to get one more tic in the "pro" category by offering relocation assistance, that might be all your candidate needs to have their decisions swayed. 

Not only does it offer financial security for your employees, it shows them that you care about this transitional period in their life and you're willing to help that it's a smooth one. 

Now, it's up to you to sell it.

Be the salesperson for your relocation policy! Brag about your benefits and what you have to offer. Make it known and make it clear that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get the right employees at your company. 

Don't be like your competitors and settle with the idea of expecting your employees to relocate for you, taking on the mindset that they should be honored to have a job offer from you. Take the high road and show your candidates that you care. It'll be worth it in the longrun. 

3. Accurately Forecast and Control Costs

There are different challenges that layer on at different rates depending on the law firm.

Some struggle with policy creation, others struggle with offer letters, some may struggle with cost containment—no matter what the struggle is though, a lot of it has to do with where the "hole" in expertise is within your staff. One of the best things you can do for your company is to uncover where those holes are, and seek out someone who can offer expertise. 

One of the biggest areas we often see companies in the legal industry struggle with is policy creation, which in turn leads to an inability to forecast future trends and cost-containment. Companies often become overwhelmed with the idea of writing a relocation policy or creating a program from scratch that they end up just throwing a lump sum (or worse, nothing at all) in their direction and hoping the rest takes care of itself.

The truth is, a relocation policy doesn't have to be an in-depth 20+ page document with intricacies and fancy terms. You can just approach it just as a set of guidelines that provides a way to reduce common questions and problems that often arise with relocations. Your policy can be as simple as you decide.

The best part is, once you create your policies, you will begin collecting data that is based off reliable and steady information that can then be used to benchmark for the future. You can identify policies that work, policies that don't work, and find the areas that are the most important to your employees as they move. 

This also holds internal teams accountable for the part they play in executing the relocations at your company, and gives you something concrete to bring up to higher levels of management that decide what your relocation budget will be. 

It really all comes down to the same challenges everyone faces: HR time savings, competing in the war for talent, our people serving as our most important intellectual property, and a good and positive first experience with your company. This is why it's so important to look at the whole picture and start at beginning, acknowledging every step along the way.

professional services and relocation

Topics: Relocation

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