Published on October 29, 2013

Best_Practices.jpgBest practices have become a 21st century buzzword as an anthem for all areas of business, from HR to investment policies. Unfortunately, its common use has created numerous misunderstandings, if not outright phrase abuse.

Relocation best practices are a graphic example of its misuse. Traditional definitions of best practices are suffering the fate of the dinosaurs with relocation policies in effect during and after the recession.

Some employers, emphasizing cost reduction over competitive features in relocation packages, seemingly substitute “cheaper” for “best.” For example, according to Worldwide ERC, surveys show that in 1988 around 90 percent of employers included temporary living assistance in relocation programs. That percentage dropped to 54 percent by 2008. Would you then assume that eliminating temporary living assistance benefits from your policy is a best practice?

Learn more about developing relocation policies in our free guide.

Evaluate Your Package Features

If some of your relocation package features suffered the cost-cutting mania of the recession, evaluate your entire program with fresh eyes.  This action is necessary for at least two reasons.

  1. Post-recession recovery necessitates re-attracting talent downsized during the recession.
  2. Your competition may have already restored removed features, placing your company in an inferior position to attract high performers.

An honest evaluation of your relocation package, in light of your company’s hiring needs, expansion plans and competitive issues, helps determine if it’s supporting your strategic objectives. If your goal is implementing best practices methodology, this analysis is a must.

Even if you’re under strict orders to control spending, restoring or adding features to your relocation policy can include reasonable spending caps to recapture the competitiveness of your program, without generating runaway costs.

Best Practices

To paraphrase, best practices are those methods, techniques or actions that have proven to be superior to alternative options. Unfortunately, in the relocation policy area—and many other vital business areas—best practice often evolved to mean “common” practice. As in the previous example, eliminating temporary housing benefits for transferees was a growing trend, not necessarily a best practice.

Best practices for relocation programs should provide two benefits, at a minimum.

  1. Features that transferees want.
  2. Competitive features the company needs to attract or retain key employees, while offering cost-certain or cost-control ability.

If this initially appears to be an over-simplification of relocation best practices, think about it for a minute. Are there really any more vital factors?

Best practices are not just a buzzword. It’s an attitude, philosophy or state-of-mind. Employers must realize that the emotional component of relocation is just as important as the financial component, at least for the transferee, who typically faces both challenges.

Few relocation best practices put inordinate weight on cost-cutting at the expense of attracting, retaining or ensuring productivity of transferees. It makes little sense to risk not having the right person in the right job at the right location to save a few dollars.

Since there is seldom a perfect solution to problems, HR should keep their eyes on the prize. Installing best practices is never a mistake. Including features that your transferees want at a cost your company can control is an essential combination if you want to employ the most talented people you can afford.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at