Relocation Benefits: The What, Why and How Much

When it comes to relocation benefits, there is no one-size-fits all answer.

Perhaps the title of this article is misleading, because when it comes to relocation benefits, there is no one-size-fits all answer. But we can explore the different reasons corporations offer relocation benefits, the many forms they take, and how your organization can go about determining employee compensation related to a move.

First, let's look at the different types of relocation benefits and how they can help contribute to a low-stress relocation for your employees.

TYPES OF RELOCATION BENEFITS

Household Goods and People Moving: The bare bones of a relocation package, some employers will either pay a lump sum or provide direct reimbursement of household goods and people moving. Some companies are finding that a complete relocation management solution, where a company's HR staff or an independent relocation firm, sets up and manages every aspect of the relocation. No cash actually changes hands between employer and employee, minimizing tax gross up issues and other factors that complicate relocation benefits.

Scouting trips: Key talent may be provided with scouting trips to help employees and their families assimilate to their new community. This is an optional employee benefit that can improve employee retention during a move. If the objective is to retain as many employees as possible —or specific employees—scouting trips are a wise expenditure.

Retention Bonuses: Often, relocating employees will be offered a bonus if they remain with the company for a specified time frame (not less than six months and no more than four years) following a move. Other times, in lieu of a retention bonus, relocation benefits must be re-paid incrementally if an employee leaves before a specified time frame.

Trailing spouse assistance: From support in finding a new job to help in finding and joining community organizations and charity groups, trailing spouse assistance is a relocation benefit that can greatly contribute to a low-stress move for top executives.

Housing benefits: This is, for many employers, the “big” category, and it's the one that's changed the most in the past five years. The most leeway exists to customize relocation packages based on housing situations. Loss-on-sale benefits, quick-sale bonuses and other incentives to help employees sell their home may be part of a tiered relocation package to address employees' concerns that they won't be able to move because they won't be able to sell their home at an acceptable price within a reasonable time frame. In some cases, temporary housing may be the best solution while an employee sells their home. This is another negotiable relocation benefit to be considered.

Property management: Rather than being held hostage to unpredictable fluctuations in the real estate market, property management benefits make a corporation impervious to them. A property management feature in a corporate relocation policy offers a viable alternative to transferees who will only be relocated temporarily, those whose financial status with their homes prevents them from readily considering relocation or those who’d jump at the chance to relocate but who don’t want to part with their homes.

RELOCATION BENEFITS: HOW MUCH TO OFFER

The question of how generous relocating employee benefits should be depends on your company's objective for the move. What's most important? Retaining 99 percent of your workforce or more? Retaining just key employees? Minimizing costs and downtime with a faster return to productivity? Keeping the overall budget down? Having clear objectives will dictate the level of employee compensation you offer for a move and in what form relocation benefits take.

Need Help? If you need a hand defining your objectives and writing fair relocation benefits packages that will keep employees happy while keeping costs down, you may want assistance from a corporate relocation services firm. Select a company with the experience, technology and expertise to perform benchmarking studies, set policies and then evaluate how well the relocation benefits packages helped your company achieve its goals, so that each corporate relocation goes even more smoothly than the one before.

Relocation Benefits