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Rick Bruce

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What Should be Included in a Relocation Package?

Posted by Rick Bruce on Fri, Nov 11, 2016

You offer a relocation package that HR and senior management believes to be outstanding. But, is it really attractive to current employees or new hires? Are you sure your relocation package is comparable to your primary competitors' programs?

Sometimes, a relocation program appears to be attractive, but doesn't resonate with the affected employees. They may be reluctant to offer their real opinions about your relocation policy for fear of offending HR or senior management. These employees may refuse transfer opportunities or clandestinely seek employment elsewhere.

Learn more examples of relocation package features in our free guide.

Here are some popular relocation benefit components you should consider to keep your relocation package competitive.

Popular Relocation Package Features

  • Auto transportation. Unless your transferee is driving to the new location, getting family vehicles to new homes is vital.

  • Childcare reimbursement. House-hunting trips and the moving process are more efficient and less stressful on the employee if young children are safely protected and occupied.

  • Packing and unpacking assistance. Packing and unpacking employees' personal property is often a physically-taxing additional responsibility for transferee families. Full packing and unpacking services are important features of competitive corporate relocation programs.

  • Home-related services:

    • Multiple house-hunting trips. When moving to an unfamiliar area, one house-hunting trip may not be enough. A second cost-controlled trip is a welcome feature.
    • Lease-breaking penalty reimbursement. Early lease terminations typically trigger penalties, which employer-mandated transfers create. Reimbursing transferees for these penalties is welcome and cost-effective.
    • Final destination home-buying and mortgage help. Another popular feature that may or may not result in an employer expense.
  • Temporary housing and personal property storage assistance. Even after transferees find acceptable new homes, properties may not be ready in time for their scheduled start date. Providing temporary housing and covering the expense of storing personal property is a valuable feature.

  • Spousal employment assistance. Connecting transferee spouses with hiring companies or search firms helps maintain employee family financial stability.

These are but some of the popular features of competitive relocation programs. If your package is missing one or more of these components, consider introducing them to increase the attractiveness of your program.

Even those features that appear to be corporate "budget busters," such as multiple house hunting trips or home sale assistance, can include monetary caps. These are valuable features you can add to your relocation package to make it more competitive and attractive, while still controlling employer costs.

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Topics: Temporary Housing, Spousal assistance, House Hunting Trips, relocation packages, relocation benefits

What Do you Need to Know Before Writing a Relocation Letter?

Posted by Rick Bruce on Tue, Jun 07, 2016

Signing a letter.jpegRelocation letters have two primary purposes. Fortunately, you need not spend hours researching data or statistics to get the information you need to create a good relocation letter of understanding. The two major features of relocation letters accomplish these goals.

  • Inform the employee or new hire about the terms of the relocation.
  • Motivate the transferee to have positive feelings about their new position and location.

Our free article can give you more information on how to write an employee relocation offer letter.

A relocation letter essentially is part legal document and part enthusiastic communication. The more formal section states the specific terms of the new position, with expected start dates, along with basic pertinent details. The remainder should display the employer’s enthusiasm for the move and the employee's agreement to it.

What You Need to Know Before Writing the Letter

Know your employee.

While the employer relocation decision is its wish to improve company operations, the employee is the prime component. Treat a relocation letter as a one-to-one chat, not a company advertisement to the general public. By knowing your employees personally, you can communicate in ways more meaningful and effective. Achieving this goal is more challenging with a new hire, because you don’t really know his/her personality yet. However, a gracious and enthusiastic “welcome to the team” message should be well received.

Restate the benefits of the new position and location.

Although the employee has already agreed to take the new position and relocate, reminding the employee of the benefits helps reinforce the employee’s decision and can help eliminate any feelings of “buyer’s remorse.” Make sure to get the details of the transferee’s new duties and responsibilities, you should know all the changes to the current employee's responsibilities. At minimum, you need to know the following:

  • The new job title.
  • New or additional job duties and responsibility levels.
  • Any duties the transferee no longer has.
  • The new compensation and benefits if there are changes.
  • Start date for the new position.

Thoroughly understand the relocation package offered.

You need to reference your policy's standard features and exceptions, if any, in the program offered to the employee. You’ll need to clearly state the following items in the relocation letter.

  • Those costs the employer will directly reimburse and caps or limitations thereto.
  • Describe the procedure for submitting requests for reimbursement.
  • Expand on critical relocation package features, such as home sale assistance.

Gathering this information before creating a relocation letter helps you fulfill the two primary goals. You will have provided a positive message to your transferee about accepting the new assignment. You will have also fulfilled your “legal” responsibility by incorporating the specifics of the relocation and the new job. By getting this information in advance it makes writing the relocation letter fairly simple. Not only will your employee understand the terms of the relocation, but your company will also have a written document that eliminates most potential misunderstandings with the transferee.
How to Write an Employee Relocation Letter

Topics: relocation management services, corporate relocation program, writing relocation offer letter

The Hidden Cost of Losing Key Talent During a Group Move

Posted by Rick Bruce on Thu, May 05, 2016

Office_Relocation-thumb_.jpgThere are many corporate relocation costs to consider before a group move. Typically, easily quantifiable, up-front corporate relocation expenses are foremost in the minds of management and HR staff. Rarely is the cost of losing key talent considered. 

Find out everything you need to know for an effective, low-stress relocation in our Low-Stress Relocation Guide.

Here are just a few of the added corporate relocation expenses you may face if your key talent refuses to make the group move:

  • Potential loss of intellectual property and human assets

  • Cost of key talent going to a competitor if a non-compete clause was not signed

  • Bad public relations if high-profile company leaders leave

  • Loss of company morale during and following the move when a company already in a state of flux loses well-respected personnel

Tangible Corporate Relocation Costs of Losing Key Executives

In addition to severance pay that has the potential to equal up to a year's salary for a top executive, there are other tangible costs associated with losing company leaders. These costs won't be considered part of your corporate relocation expenses because they'll be incurred after the company has settled into the new location. But if you are unable to keep the desired staff on board, you will find that these hidden expenses will add up. Even worse, these hidden costs are not tax deductible like some corporate relocation expenses.

  • The costs of hiring and training new employees, which can equal up to five times the amount of an executive's salary

  • Loss of productivity during ramp-up time with new employees

  • Potential corporate relocation expenses if you need to look outside your new region for talent

If your company is planning a group move, wouldn't you rather have your top performers make the move with you? 

The Low-Stress  Relocation Guide

Topics: talent retention, Home Selling and Purchase Assistance, Corporate Relocation Costs, corporate relocation program, talent management

Use Tiers to Avoid Exceptions in Your Corporate Relocation Policy

Posted by Rick Bruce on Thu, Apr 21, 2016

Tiered Relocation AgreementMany companies view a tiered corporate relocation policy as more work. It's true that your HR staff will have to take the time, and may enlist the help of a corporate relocation management company, to establish fair and appropriate tiers based on employee salaries or job levels and set the benefits offered in a corporate relocation package within each tier. But once that's done, a tiered policy actually decreases the work required by the HR staff or corporate relocation management firm.

Find out more about how tiered relocation packages can save you time and money in our free article.

3 Ways Tiered Relocation Polices Can Make Relocation Easier

Here are some ways a tiered corporate relocation policy makes individual relocation or group moves easier.

  1. Eliminate the need to negotiate every employee relocation package individually and/or reduce exceptions to your policy. If you don't have a corporate relocation policy at all, you'll find yourself reinventing the wheel with every employee relocation. Having a one-size-fits-all policy is better than having none, but you may be faced with so many exceptions to the policy, it's like creating a new policy every time you relocate an employee.

  2. Reduce resentment (or lawsuits) when employees discover differences in relocation packages. (And they will!) Remember, in the corporate world, nothing stays secret for long. When employees find out about exceptions made in corporate relocation policies, they'll resent their co-workers who negotiated a better package. If you upset the wrong employee and the exceptions can't be justified, you might even face a lawsuit, along with a drop in company morale and a sense of distrust amongst employees.

  3. Improve your retention rate for relocating employees. Faced with the above scenarios, you have a few choices if you want to keep good employees with a relocation package that gives them what they need. A tiered relocation policy where the tiers are clearly defined based on employee levels or salary sets the standard and reduces exceptions. Like a good employee handbook, it makes the process more cut-and-dry, and permits you to keep more employees happy with less work in the long run. That doesn't mean a tiered policy will completely eliminate exceptions to your corporate relocation policy, but it helps.

Save Time & Money Using Tiered Relocation Packages

Topics: Tiered relocation packages, employee relocation expenses, Buyer Value Option

Relocating Transferees and Their Families -- Special Considerations for Your Corporate Policy

Posted by Rick Bruce on Wed, Jan 29, 2014

You can develop a well-crafted relocation policy that reflects your corporate financial goals and complies with Federal tax regulations. It can promote successful relocations and assure a quick return to productivity for your transferee. Whatever the fine points of your corporate relocation policy, you also need to address the issues involved in relocating an entire family versus a single employee.

The costs you incur in relocating a family are often much greater than those required for a single transferee. Likewise, adequately supporting a family in their new location – especially if it is an international destination – incurs even greater costs. To avoid failed relocations and the loss of funds you've dedicated to the process, take a close look at your corporate policy with these suggestions in mind.

Issues to Consider in Family Relocations

To update an old expression: “A happy spouse makes a happy house.” When the transferee's spouse or partner or children find it difficult to adjust to their new environs and have trouble aligning with a new community or lifestyle – productivity suffers and the likelihood of success plummets.

A two-income family enjoying a particular standard of living at their old location often expects to continue with two incomes that support their established lifestyle at the new one. Yet even domestic relocations can pose employment challenges, especially when the relocation takes your transferee to a smaller community. While your transferee arrives at the new location with a job and a sense of purpose, the spouse may find him or herself feeling isolated and without meaningful employment to fill each week.

Your policy may want to consider spousal support services to prevent those situations. By including provisions in your policy for career coaching you can help a spouse or partner make educated decisions about job opportunities in the new location. These could include an assessment of career opportunities, data on local salary scales, networking strategies and similar help.

For transferees with children, it is the parents' role to help them accommodate to a new school and new environment. However your relocation policy can aid your transferee and spouse by making certain basic services available. These could be as simple as providing information on schools, neighborhoods and community services, including help with determining the availability of in-state tuition for college-bound children. Your policy could provide an area tour of the destination with an operator serving the relocation industry.

 

Download Our Free  Rental Services  Whitepaper

 

By helping your transferee and family deal with questions and concerns, your corporate relocation policy can reduce the possibility of a failed relocation and assure a quick and permanent return to full productivity.

Topics: Family Relocation, Spousal assistance, relocation benefits

What Information Do you Need Before Writing a Relocation Letter of Understanding?

Posted by Rick Bruce on Tue, Jan 07, 2014

Relocation letters have two primary purposes. Fortunately, you need not spend hours researching data or statistics to get the information you need to create a good relocation letter of understanding. The two major features of relocation letters accomplish these goals.

  • Inform the employee or new hire about the terms of the relocation
  • Motivate the transferee to have positive feelings about their new position and location.

A relocation letter essentially is part legal document and part enthusiastic communication. The more formal section states the specific terms of the new position, with expected start dates, along with basic pertinent details. The remainder should display the employer’s enthusiasm for the move and the employee's agreement to it.

What You Need to Know Before Writing the Letter

Understand the personality of the employee

While the employer relocation decision is its wish to improve company operations, the employee is the prime component. Treat a relocation letter as a one-to-one chat, not a company advertisement to the general public.

Knowing your employee’s personality helps you frame your communication in ways most meaningful and effective to the recipient.

Achieving this goal is more challenging with a new hire, because you don’t really know his/her personality yet. However, a gracious and enthusiastic “welcome to the team” message should be well-received.

Restate the benefits of the new position and location.

Although the employee has already agreed to take the new position and relocate, a brief reminder—in writing—of the benefits helps reinforce the employee’s decision. This simple statement or listing often re-ignites the employee’s motivation, eliminating any feelings of “buyer’s remorse” that may creep into the decision.Get the details of the transferee’s new duties and responsibilities.You need to know all changes to current employees’ responsibilities, along with specifics of their new position. At a minimum, you need to know the following items.
  • The new job title.
  • New or additional job duties and responsibility levels.
  • Any duties the transferee no longer has.
  • The new compensation and benefits if there are changes.
  • Start date for the new position.

Thoroughly understand the relocation package offered.

You need to reference your policy's standard features and exceptions, if any, in the program offered to the employee. You’ll need to clearly state the following items in the relocation letter.
  • Those costs the employer will directly reimburse and caps or limitations thereto.
  • Describe the procedure for submitting requests for reimbursement.
  • Expand on critical relocation package features, such as home sale assistance.

Gathering this information before creating a relocation letter helps you fulfill the two primary goals. You will have provided a positive message to your transferee to reinforce the wisdom of the decision to accept the new position and relocation.

The Low-Stress  Relocation Guide

 

You will also fulfill your “legal” responsibility by incorporating the specifics of the relocation, including the details of the transferee’s new job and responsibilities, new compensation and the primary features of your company’s obligations to reimburse some or all costs of the move.

Getting this information in advance typically makes the writing of the actual relocation letter a fairly simple—and effective—exercise. Your employee will understand the terms of the relocation and your company will have a written document that eliminates most potential misunderstandings with the transferee.

Topics: relocation management services, corporate relocation program

Global Mobility Specialist (GMS®) Certification - What Is It?

Posted by Rick Bruce on Wed, Dec 18, 2013

Brian Shea accepting his Global Mobility Specialist certification
Brian Shea, accepting his GMS certification
from Laura and Peggy from WERC.
The Global Mobility Specialist (GMS®) certification identifies professionals involved in the employee relocation arena as being well-trained in global workforce mobility. The GMS® designation includes courses for initial certification and continuing education, which focus on both traditional and current global mobility trends.

GMS® Certification


Since Worldwide ERC® began the GMS® certification program in 2004; over 3,850 people have earned specialist designations through global mobility training. These certified professionals live and work in 58 different countries around the globe.
In 2010, Worldwide ERC® introduced the Senior Global Mobility Specialist (SGMS®) designation for those who have already earned certification as a GMS®. Since inception of this designation, almost 150 professionals have achieved SGMS® certification.

Why GMS® Certification Is Important


To maintain your GMS® certification one needs to complete the continuing education (CE) courses every three years. The GMS® program targets training and education for global mobility requirements, which can be much more complex than domestic relocations.

Having this designation or working with someone with this designation can help in the following circumstances:

  • You are an HR professional administering international relocation policies and programs.
  • You function as overseer and manager of global relocations that are administered by a third-party professional relocation firm.
  • You advise, consult or facilitate buying, selling or legal issues involved with international real estate transactions.
  • You have responsibilities for effective management of global tax issues and foreign taxation differences that affect transferees.
  • You are responsible for satisfying immigration requirements for employees relocating to foreign countries.

Free Article:  A Guide to Developing  Relocation Policies

The GMS® Certification Review Board helps ensure that this program curriculum remains up-to-date and current. This means you’ll be working with people who always receive pertinent information, whether they are pursuing their GMS® certification or the continuing education credits to keep their designation. Working with a certified GMS® is an important advantage to your transferees. Whether relocating domestically or internationally, transferees will appreciate the benefits of their certified knowledge.


Topics: workforce mobility, WorldwideERC, GMS

Common Concerns from Employees in a Corporate Relocation

Posted by Rick Bruce on Mon, Jun 10, 2013

question-mark-box-2.jpgEmployee relocation generates numerous concerns on the part of transferees. Employers who proactively address these concerns in their relocation policy minimize or eliminate most of them.

Find out more about developing relocation policies in our free guide.

Among the seemingly infinite list of questions and concerns are:

Common Concerns

This brief listing is in no particular order of importance, as different personalities and situations result in different priorities. 

  • Quality of life
  • Spouse employment opportunities
  • Availability of quality elder care
  • Proximity to quality schools and universities
  • The housing market
  • Availability of recreation facilities, youth and adult sports programs and community activities
  • The departure location housing market
  • The cost of moving to a distant, unfamiliar area, regardless of the quality of the relocation policy

This is not an all-encompassing listing. Important concerns of employee “A” may not even make the list of employee “B.” The noted concerns, however, tend to make most pre-relocation item lists of the majority of transferees. Relocation programs should address these issues and reaffirm the benefits of transferring with these concerns in mind.  Below are a few details associated with the concerns mentioned:

Spouse Employment Opportunities

If your transferee's spouse is a productive member of the workforce in their current location, employers should, if possible, share the job opportunities that should be available in the new location. If the employment prospects are dim, the employer can do more research or contact peers in the new area to procure some potential sources of jobs for transferees' spouses.

For example, if the transferee's spouse is a registered nurse, employers can get information regarding job prospects from hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other medical facilities in the new location. While the employer cannot guarantee employment for the spouse, addressing this concern within the policy parameters earns employee trust and gratitude.

Quality Care for Seniors

As the national workforce ages, their parents age too. Even aging parents who do not need nursing homes may want community services and activities tailored to their interests. The availability of quality care or senior activities can determine a “yes” or “no” answer to a company invitation to relocate.

Quality Education

Transferees with children of any school age are often troubled by the uncertainty of quality schools or colleges in the new area. Relocation programs that address these concerns and respond with useful inside information will put the transferee's mind at ease. All the information an employer provides a potential transferee serves to minimize these valid concerns.

Housing Market

This is a two-headed monster that must be defeated. Potential transferees may love their home, neighborhood, friends and area. Further, the uncertainty surrounding new locations, particularly during pre-relocation decisions, involves real estate prices, population diversity, mortgage availability and climate.

Offering to help with the sale of the current home and assistance with finding a new home can turn transferee frowns to smiles.

Budgeting

Even the best relocation programs involve some out-of-pocket cost for transferees. Giving examples of the reimbursement levels for prospective costs covered by the employer and potential costs to the relocating employee often calms the pre-relocation cost fears.

Employers must be aware of these concerns, designing appropriate answers to transferee questions and offering solutions to problem areas. Relocation policies that accomplish this goal result in more satisfied, productive transferees.

Free Article:  A Guide to Developing  Relocation Policies

 

Topics: Home Selling and Purchase Assistance, Corporate Relocation Costs, destination services, employee relocation concerns

Real Estate Services To Offer During an Executive Relocation

Posted by Rick Bruce on Tue, May 21, 2013

Executive relocation programs should focus on real estate services, since these issues are primary concerns of most transferred executives. Real estate-related services can take many varied and diverse forms.

Executives often have similar, but more extensive, needs and concerns than do other transferees. Their homes tend to be upscale, making them more difficult to sell quickly for price reasons, and executives are extremely concerned about duplicating their quality of life in a new location.

 

Important Destination Real Estate Services

Competitive executive relocation policies should include these services, while custom features should also be considered by employers.

  • New location orientation.
    Appropriate neighborhoods in unfamiliar locations can be more 'mysterious' and challenging to locate than finding the "right" home. Internet searches can preview homes, but, regardless of how a neighborhood looks, finding the right location, with proximity to quality schools, medical care and recreation facilities, can be challenging.

  • Home finding help.
    Transferred executives are time-challenged to find the home they want. Working with experienced real estate agents, familiar with relocation necessities, helps executives get a "feel" for the appropriate homes for sale in preferable neighborhoods.

  • House hunting trips.
    Executive relocation programs that include up to two employer-paid house hunting trips usually satisfy the needs and concerns of transferees. If they find the "perfect" house during the first trip, executives can make an offer and skip the second trip. Or, a second house hunting trip can clear up unanswered questions and result in finding just the right house.

  • Real estate advice.
    A knowledgeable real estate broker, experienced with executive relocation and familiar with the new location, can eliminate transferee stress and help the executive make the best real estate decision.

  • Mortgage assistance.
    It's unreasonable to expect executives, however real estate or mortgage savvy  they may be, to be experts on the complexities of mortgage lending. Even well-respected national mortgage lenders have requirements that can vary.  Having knowledgeable help from the best relocation savvy lenders can make a huge difference. If the executive is a new hire, this help is even more important as the transferee will have just started a new job, without a track record with the employer.

As smart, efficient and successful as the transferred executive may be, he or she will deeply appreciate the employer's help in solving the real estate puzzle that always exists at an unfamiliar location. When the executive has a family, children, pets and all, this assistance is even more important and treasured.

Executive relocation programs, properly designed to attract and retain outstanding corporate leaders, should always include these real estate services, at a minimum. The short-term cost of these services will shrink in comparison to the long-term benefits the employer receives from a motivated, satisfied and talented executive.
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Topics: Real Estate, executive relocation package

7 Keys to Employee Relocation: A Cheat Sheet for HR Managers

Posted by Rick Bruce on Tue, Feb 05, 2013

sold_home-resized-600.jpgYour relocation program can help or hinder your efforts to hire and/or retain talented employees. A competitive relocation package is a necessity, as there is often a natural reluctance for some employees and/or their families to move to a new location.

The Human Relocation Factor

It is imperative that you design a relocation package that addresses and minimizes employee and HR personnel stress. Write your relocation policies to be attractive to transferees at all authority levels on the organization chart.

Including valuable relocation features reduces or eliminates the common "fear of the unknown" involved in a major move. Try to understand that, often, the employee's family members exhibit more stress than the transferee himself/herself. If possible, address this potential with features that instill positive feelings in the transferee's family members.

Our free article addresses the special considerations associated with relocating employees with families.

Providing home selling advice, along with financial incentives, can address this natural human factor in a positive manner. Connecting the employee with a real estate agent familiar with relocation necessities and familiarity with mortgage loan sources often removes transferee concerns about housing issues.

Keys to Competitive Employee Relocation Programs

Consider components to make your relocation package equal to or better than your competition when you want to hire and keep the best employees. You can use these suggestions as a guide or checklist to ensure your company is offering what talented employees want most.

  1. Equitable compensation adjustments if the new location cost of living is higher than the transferee's current home base.
  2. Using a top professional relocation firm to work with you and your transferee to ensure a low stress, successful change of location.
  3. Loss-on-sale reimbursement benefits for the sale of the transferee's home.
  4. Paid house-hunting trips, preferably two, enabling the employee and his/her spouse to view appropriate homes and become familiar with acceptable new location neighborhoods.
  5. Professional assistance by a relocation savvy real estate agent, and up-to-date resources for competitive, professional mortgage loan options. .
  6. Moving and travel expense reimbursement so the transferee's personal property is moved professionally and minimizes expenses for the family to travel to the new location.
  7. Compensation for time off needed to house hunt, for moving days and to get settled in the new location.

If feasible, consider offering financial assistance to transferees to assist with qualifying for a new mortgage or making the required down payment. These key components reduce transferee stress and result in more successful relocations.

You should also be totally positive when discussing relocation with all potential new hires and transferees, to help them adopt an equally positive feeling about the upcoming move. These keys help HR staff and companies enjoy consistent success in hiring and retaining valuable employees after a relocation, discussed in detail in our article on employee retention

This checklist represents the minimum valuable features you should consider for your relocation program. Your industry or competition may indicate the inclusion of one or more additional components to ensure relocation success. The increasing popularity of top relocation firms is testimony of employers' desires for a cost-effective, low administration, stress free and productive employee or new hire move.

 Relocating Employees with Families 

Topics: corporate relocation program, human resources, relocating employees

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