Preventing Relocation Failures: Strategies for Smooth Transitions & Success

To start employees off right in a new role, obviously, your relocation experience must be smooth. However, relocations are complex, and things can go sideways in an infinite number of ways.

After all, the relocation process consists of multiple steps and decisions…is dependent on outside parties…and requires orchestrated timing. It’s a lot for anyone to handle, let alone someone already dealing with major life and career changes.

It’s up to employers—and their relocation partners—to smooth their people’s path. The good news: most relocation pitfalls are predictable, which means they’re preventable, too.

Consider these common relocation fails—and proven ways to prevent them.

1. Don’t Let Household Goods Moves Go Bad

Nothing upsets a relocating employee quite like the thought of losing their earthly belongings. Unfortunately, there are many ways that household goods transports go wrong.

Say, the moving truck fails to arrive on schedule. Or, their belongings are damaged—or missing altogether. And what about when movers raise their prices…after everything is loaded onto the truck?

Unfortunately, the moving industry has more than its share of bad, incompetent actors (the Better Business Bureau receives 13,000 moving complaints every year).

But there’s an easy way to protect employees from choosing squirrelly movers, and that’s to work with a relocation expert who screens its suppliers. For example, at UrbanBound, we rigorously vet our movers financially, operationally, and from an HR standpoint—and then continuously monitor their performance.

If you don’t know how your relocation provider chooses its suppliers, ask. It’s too important to leave to chance.

2. Be Prepared for House-hunting Holdups

Whether relocating employees choose to rent or buy a home, finding a great place to live is high on every priority list. But when employees can’t find acceptable housing—say, a property within their budget or in their desired location—it can bring their move to a halt.

How do you prevent this? By ensuring that your employees work with top local real estate agents. And by offering flexible benefits that provide a built-in Plan B. That may mean covering an additional house-hunting trip when needed and short-term housing benefits—a must in competitive markets.

After all, finding housing is essential to keeping relocations on track, and your provider should be all over this. At UrbanBound, we have a whole program dedicated to housing—to see how your current program compares, click here.

3. Take the Sting Out of Taxes

As you know, relocation benefits are considered taxable income by the IRS. And while many employers pay tax gross-ups—i.e., increase their employees’ relocation benefits to cover those taxes—others do not.

No matter how smooth a relocation goes, saddling employees with relocation-related taxes will sour their experience and possibly your relationship.

If you need to cut your program costs, don’t cut benefits: consider shifting to a cost-effective, tech-based relocation provider instead.

4. Don’t Let Employees Go It Alone

Planning a relocation is time-consuming and stressful. Even seasoned employees may struggle to fully understand their benefits or overlook a step in the process. In order to plan a smooth, efficient relocation, they need your assistance.

Unfortunately, as more organizations adopt lump sum relocation plans —that is, hand employees some money and turn them loose—employees are more likely to run into trouble. 

Even worse, simply providing reimbursement for move-related expenses, requires employees to front thousands of dollars to move themselves without coordinated or organized help.

If you care enough to offer relocation benefits, you should care enough to offer relocation support. In our book, that means providing: 

  • Access to professional relocation specialists, so employees can get as much (or as little) help as they want
  • Personalized relocation software that guides them through the process   
  • A rigorously vetted network of suppliers that ensures that they receive quality service 
  • Hyperlocal information about their new area, so they can make informed decisions
  • An introduction to their new employer and coworkers, which will help them acclimate more quickly

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Bottom line: smooth, low-stress relocations are essential to setting employees up for success. But they don’t just happen on their own—and this is where your relocation partner should add great value.  

Want to know more about how UrbanBound ensures positive, pitfall-free relocation experiences for employees and employers? Learn our secrets here.

Human Resources Today