Helping Relocating Employees Adjust to Short-term Housing

Corporate relocation is a massive adjustment for employees and their families—one of life’s most stressful events. Their first, most jarring experiences are often moving from an established, much-loved home into unfamiliar, impersonal short-term housing.

Don’t get us wrong: short-term housing is an invaluable relocation benefit. Selling one house and buying another rarely happens according to plan, especially in competitive real-estate markets. Short-term housing allows relocating employees to start their new jobs more quickly and acclimate sooner, regardless of their real-estate status.

But short-term housing generally isn’t the most comforting place to return to after a long day spent in a strange, new world. With most of the employees’ belongings in transit or storage, it likely isn’t very “homey.” It’s a waystation—and probably a generic one at that.

So, how can employers ease this transition and make short-term housing feel a bit more home-like? Here’s five time-tested ways to start.

Set Clear Expectations   

One key way to set employees up for success in temporary housing is to clearly communicate all of the details—location, amenities, parking, commuting options—in advance of their move.

Perhaps you can provide incoming employees with a video tour of their temporary digs. Or arm them with helpful coworker tips about the area: where to eat out, work out, order in, etc.

Here, employers who use relocation software have an edge. UrbanBound’s Co-worker Insights, for example, allows colleagues to post their referrals to your relocation portal, where their new coworkers can easily find them.  

Setting clear expectations not only reduces anxiety and facilitates planning, but will help employees adapt more quickly, too.


Make Quality Short-term Housing Arrangements  

Some employers simply provide a short-term housing allowance and leave it to their employees to find their own place. Not only does this create more work (and stress) for employees, it can result in a deal-breaking experience if they make a poor choice, like choosing an unsafe area.

A better solution: make your own temporary housing arrangements—or better yet, ask your relocation provider to leverage its buying power and do it for you. You have many options: extended-stay hotels, corporate condos, Airbnbs, etc. Just make sure it’s safe, clean, comfortable and convenient. Well-appointed helps, too!

Tip: this is something you’ll want to track in employees’ post-relocation surveys. If you get consistently positive feedback, that’s great. If not, be ready to make some adjustments.


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Provide Some of the Comforts of Home 

One of the biggest challenges of living in short-term housing is the cold, antiseptic vibe so many places give off. To help employees feel more at home, make sure that your temporary housing provides welcoming amenities, such as workout equipment and/or a pet-friendly policy. Why not ask your employees what matters to them?

In addition, provide newly-arrived employees with some eye-catching “housewarming gifts” that help offset the surreal experience of entering a strange living space. For example, greet them with fresh flowers, a premium fruit basket, and/or a well-stocked coffee bar or fridge. These thoughtful touches can really make a difference.


Form a Welcome Committee

Living in short-term housing can be isolating for employees who are new to the area and on their own, so encourage community building. See that the newbie is shown around and introduced to everyone on the team. Throw a lunch or happy hour (or both!) in his or her honor.

There are always a few social butterflies in any organization—ask yours to make sure their new team member is always included in activities or invited to lunch. According to Gallup research, having just one good friend at work improves engagement and morale, something relocating employees need.


Check-in Regularly

Finally, it’s important to check in regularly with newly-relocated employees to see how they’re adjusting. This can help you identify any challenges or issues they may be facing and provide support and resources as needed.

It also helps ensure that employees and their families feel supported and cared for during a potentially stressful time—the most reassuring gift you can give a new employee.

At the end of the day, short-term housing can set the stage for a successful long-term relationship. For more strategies on ensuring a stellar relocation experience, learn about UrbanBound’s groundbreaking relocation solution.  


Human Resources Today