It's rarely an easy task to convince your employees to relocate—even when the advantages seem obvious to you. Whether you're opening a new office, staffing a remote location, or moving your entire company, relocation can be a tough sell to even the most loyal of employees.
That doesn't mean it's impossible, however. And offering an increase of salary or benefits isn't the only leverage you have (although it is as powerful as ever). Here are three ways to convince your employees that relocation is the right move for them.
1. Validate Employee Concerns
This is the step that most relocation consultants fail to teach you. Listening to your employees' concerns about relocation should be the first thing you do after you bring the subject up--even before you sell them on all the benefits of moving.
That doesn't mean you have to agree with them. It does mean that you should listen to their concerns without saying the equivalent of, "Yes, but that won't matter once you understand the benefits," in your reply.
Let your employees know that it's a tough decision and a tough process; also let them know that it is a decision well worth making!
You'll find that they'll make the decision you want them to make, more easily and more quickly, if you first listen to their fears and concerns--and don't try and write off those fears and concerns.
2. Offer Equity in Your Company
Offering stock or other equity in your business can give you a lot of leverage when you want to convince your employees to relocate. In fact, equity is a great incentive for your employees to work harder and stay with your company longer.
Some owners and board members of non-publicly traded companies object to this on the principal that they don't want the employees making executive-level decisions for the company--something that can happen when employees own enough voting shares.
The easiest way around this is to offer non-voting shares to your employees. That way, they share in the profits (and are encouraged to work hard for your company) while you keep control of your business.
3. Offer a Pay Raise
Salary is a vital issue when it comes to employee relocation. A pay raise is the top incentive you can offer to any employee to relocate! The pay raise doesn't necessarily have to be substantial--although that can certainly be persuasive.
Since salary is typically the number one motivator of all employee motivators, it will have the most leverage when you want to convince your employees to relocate. At the very least, you shouldn't offer to cut their salary if they move!
Believe it or not, that's not as uncommon as you may think. After all, when an employee is moved from a location with a high cost of living (Boston, MA, for example) to a place with a much lower cost of living (Heavener, OK), a small pay cut can actually represent a substantial raise, once the cost of living is factored in.
Chances are, your employees won't see it this way. Even if they understand it intellectually, their gut feeling will pay more attention to the threat of a smaller number on their paycheck.
So when you can, offer a raise to encourage your employees to move. This will make it easier to talk them into relocating. And it will strengthen their loyalty to your company as well!