5 Reasons Employees Resist Relocation (And What To Do About It)


Relocating employees is a great way to create a superstar team in the workplace, but it's not always easy. Whether relocating existing team members to a new location, or recruiting new candidates for a role that will require them to move, not everyone gets excited about the idea of relocation.

Packing up and moving away from their lives is intimidating in itself, and many people have good reasons to oppose the idea. If your employees (or candidates) don't want to relocate for work, there are things you can do to make the offer more tempting. Here are 5 reasons for relocation-resistance, and what you can do to address them:


1. Relocating is Complicated and Expensive

This is the plain truth of the matter. It costs a lot to wrap up existing business, pack and move all of your things to a new location. Your employee is going to have to set themselves up in new living arrangements, switch utility providers, and update all of their information to reflect their new location. This takes a lot of time and money, and if they aren’t sure how much better off they’ll be, it may not seem worth it.

What You Can Do

Be supportive and available to help. If this employee is truly an asset your company needs, you should vocalize how supportive you'll be to alleviate any pressure and stress during the relocation. Let them know the type of help you'll be offering both monetarily and from a support standpoint. The money is always a key consideration, but remember the stress factor. Providing relocation assistance, like help coordinating the move or a dedicated relocation consultant can lessen this stress big-time. Using a tech-driven relocation solution can also go a long way to showing employees they'll have ongoing support. Most people these days are used to online apps that simplify their lives, so why should relocating be any different?

The more information you give them, the more comfortable they'll feel and the more likely they'll be to warm up to the idea of relocation. Understand that this decision probably won't be one they take lightly, so you may need to do a little convincing.


2. They Don’t Believe Your Lofty Promises

If you’re eager to win over an employee, you may be tempted to exaggerate the positive aspects of the opportunity, or over-embellish. The problem is, people know if you're not being honest. Worse, if they happened to believe your grand description it would come as a harsh shock when they actually started the job, leading to a bad employee experience and most likely they'll leave soon after. If you're making a highly competitive offer that DOES offer great benefits, they may still think it's too good to be true.

What You Can Do

Offer an unbiased perspective that highlights both sides of the coin. Allow the employee to speak with other individuals who they’ll be working with if they relocate. They're entitled to honesty, and you want it to be a good fit as much they do. Also, put your offer in writing so they can see it's official. If you have other employees that have relocated with similar benefits, let the employee talk to them to see how it went.

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3. They Prioritize Their Spouses and Families

If someone is married with children, their relocation is going to affect everyone, and in a pretty big way. They’re not going to make a selfish move if they’ve got a family to consider. This potential employee is keeping everyone’s best interest in mind, and you can’t fault them for having their priorities right.

What You Can Do

Include spouses and families in the relocation plan. They need to be part of everything if you want any hope of relocating this person. Individuals with children will want to know what schools and childcare are like in the area, and if necessary, where their spouse can potentially work after relocation. Keep in mind, this spouse may have to quit their current job because of the move and start over with a new one. Is there anything you can provide to help the spouse, such as job finding assistance or access to networking groups? Any help will be appreciated and can help make a difficult decision a bit easier.


4. They’re Overwhelmed By The Idea of Adapting

A new job, a new house, a new town, and a fresh start are all going to happen at once. That’s a lot of change in a very small amount of time. Some people don’t handle change well, and relocating will turn their whole world upside down. This will cause serious stress.

What You Can Do

Don’t expect the employee to relocate one day and dive head first into their new job on the next. Give them time to relocate, adjust, and then begin working. You can do this by providing a guided timeline and being realistic with expectations. Give them time to adjust both mentally and physically, and it will pay off for both of you in the long run.

Allowing relocating employees to take things one step at a time can also reduce the stress associated with a relocation. You need to be accommodating if you want someone to not only relocate, but stay.


5. The Pay Doesn’t Justify The Move

Since relocating is so complicated and stressful, why would someone put themselves through that for a negligible pay bump? Most likely, they won't. It’s easier for that person to stay where they are, continue the life they're comfortable with, and explore higher paying opportunities that don’t involve throwing their life into temporary chaos.

What You Can Do

Take a good, hard look at what you’re requesting of this person. Would you go through everything they have to go through for the compensation you’re offering? If you wouldn’t, you can’t expect them to do the same. Relocating employees should be paid at a premium, offered excellent benefits, and have a promising opportunity to climb the ranks in their new workplace.

Successfully relocating an employee can be difficult, but it's also an incredible tool in recruiting and growing a business. Try to approach the subject with empathy and understand who each candidate is as a person, what their core values are, and what's most meaningful to them. You need to shape your approach, and your relocation package, around the person rather than the business proposition.

Clare Hawkins is a small business marketing specialist who shares her knowledge at Local – one of Australia’s most reliable online business directories. In her free time, she likes to forget about business related topics and spend time traveling.  

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