Not that many years ago, companies planning on relocating their married employees had few concerns beyond helping the family move. Traditionally speaking, the “family” consisted of the employee (usually a man), his wife (usually non-working) and kids (and maybe a pet or two). Even if the employee’s wife had a job, it was expected she would relinquish it to follow her husband to his new location.
By 2016, much has changed in the relocation landscape: the presence of dual-career couples, broader definitions of what constitutes a “family” as well as “cultural clashes” caused by traditional norms bumping up against a company’s 21 st Century needs can be particularly troublesome for HR managers and others making relocation policy. How do companies strike a balance finding solutions that keep things running smoothly?
Accommodating the Needs of Dual-Career Families
Women have more opportunities for advancing careers than at any other time in history. Spouses who have moved ahead in careers are understandably reluctant to jump ship and tag along to the next destination. The result can be a “split-family” situation — where the transferee goes it alone and the spouse and family stay behind.
The Family Redefined
The family no longer consists of mom, dad and one or more kids. Single-parent families and other non-traditional families are on the rise, underscoring the need to be flexible in crafting relocation policies.
Relocating same-sex couples may face barriers to immigration or entry due to the refusal of some countries to recognize these partnerships. Personal safety concerns in unfriendly nations may also arise for same-sex unions.
One law firm reports that single parents face a different set of challenges: relocation may affect child support, visitation or other parental rights. Savvy managers may wish to enlist legal help in drafting policies to include and accommodate thee considerations.
The Last Word
If your company hasn’t reviewed its relocation policies lately, it may be time for some updating. Some companies have successfully accommodated employees’ families either in the form of a tiered plan or offering an assignee a choice in benefits. Building these family challenges into relocation policies will help smooth the transition for all concerned, as well as promote better employee retention and enhanced productivity in the new location.