Why Relocation Sucks in 2023 - And Why That Matters for People Leaders

Hiring top talent from abroad is becoming a central part of talent strategy in order to fill open roles in developed economies. However, it can be really difficult to get internal buy-in for investment and engagement in a strong relocation programme.

Understanding how and why the relocation experience is poor for the majority of assignees is crucial for People Leaders, to use this knowledge to obtain internal buy-in for global mobility, elevate relocation policies and improve employee support. That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive guide on this topic!

In this guide, we take a look at:

  1. Why relocation is often such a bad experience for employees
  2. How a bad relocation experience can negatively impact companies
  3. How to massively improve the relocation experience

Here we have a brief summary of each section, but for the full lowdown on identifying how the relocation experience is often so bad for employees, why that can have a catastrophic impact on employers, and how to make the experience so much better, take a look at the full report!

Five causes of a bad relocation experience

1 - Lack of knowledge - about relocating, and the destination itself

For most relocators, there’s a massive knowledge gap around processes to follow, as well as the destination city. And without support, the onus is on individuals to find the answers to their many questions - which is fraught with problems. The huge amount of conflicting information online leads to stress and confusion, it’s hard to know which sources to trust, and it takes ages!

2 - Competing in increasingly challenging rental markets

In many cities, demand for properties is hugely outstripping supply, meaning competition is fierce and prices are skyrocketing. When assignees go it alone, unfamiliar with the nuances of the local market, their chances of securing a home quickly and easily are far, far lower, meaning a much more stressful and lengthy process and more money spent on temporary housing.

3 - Difficulty of managing many fragmented processes

There’s so much more to a relocation than getting a visa and finding a place to live! Relocators may need to sort out 25+ services, from shipping to opening a bank account. Younger employees who’ve never moved before will be grappling with these processes for the very first time. And to make matters worse, each process may be handled by different suppliers on different platforms!

4 - Huge amount of time and effort needed

It’s a massive endeavour to pack up a life and start over, especially when doing it unsupported. Assignees need to find the time to search for a home, find suppliers for services and compare quotes and SLAs, and manage their budget effectively. Of course, this is all time and headspace that could be better spent on work - especially for those about to start a brand new role!

5 - The current support solutions often don’t work

For those employees that do receive a relocation support package through their company, the actual support on offer is often not fit for purpose. Fully managed packages are super expensive and so only available to a tiny proportion of employees, half-day consultant support really isn’t enough to achieve anything, and cash lump sums leave assignees to fend for themselves.

Three big consequences for People Leaders of poor relocation experiences

1- Wasted budget

Poorly managed relocations have an adverse effect not only on HR Teams’ time and resources, but their budgets too. And of course, in 2023 we’re seeing budgets being cut left and right, making it even harder. Here are the three most common pitfalls:

Cash lump sums - poor cost control and management

This is a very common band-aid solution to helping someone relocate, but one with many pitfalls and frequent escalations coming back to HR teams. It’s tricky to work out the right amount of money to provide. If it’s too much, that’s simply wasted money that employees then use on irrelevant things. If it’s too little, employees may struggle to find cost-effective providers and in the end will need to request extra budget, which further hurts the wider organisation's bottom line.

Providing services that aren’t needed or wanted

Even when assignees receive defined relocation support, costs are often wasted. We’ve worked with a client that provided shipping as standard. One relocator with very few belongings had nothing to ship, so ended up buying bicycles in the UK to try to fill her container! If People leaders are seen to be wasting budget this way, it’s bound to hurt their credibility within the company, as well as their balance sheet!

Extra costs for additional support and services

When assignees are responsible for managing their relocation process, their budget and the suppliers they use, it’s easy for things to go wrong. Extra costs often crop up, such as a longer-than-expected stay in temporary accommodation, or access to costly local consultants for much-needed relocation support, which hurts People leaders’ budgets unexpectedly.

2 - Risk of failed relocations

When relocations go badly, you don’t just risk employee unhappiness and lost productivity. More seriously, some assignments fail altogether; the employee decides it’s not working out and returns to their original destination earlier than expected, without achieving the desired goals.

And when we say ‘often’, we mean it!

  • According to INSEAD, between 10% and 50% of relocations fail
  • HR News has found that 40% of overseas assignments are judged to be failures

According to employment platform Globalization Partners, common reasons for relocation failures include lack of communication, unrealistic expectations and family dissatisfaction.

Crucially, failed assignments are a big blow to businesses. Repercussions include:

  • Missing business objectives and the financial losses that this entails
  • Extra expenses of repatriating employees
  • Pressure on People Team time and resources
  • Huge wasted costs spent on each failed relocation

3 - Losing out on existing and new talent

As you’ll know well, a company’s people are their most important asset. As you may not know, failing to provide adequate relocation support means you’re at risk of losing yours, in two ways: 

  1. Failing to retain your existing talent

“Poorly crafted relocation packages are a turn-off to new hires and established workers alike. If you’re not careful about managing your relocation assignments, you may end up with employees leaving your company in search of better options.” - Globalization Partners

Over 30% of UK employees have left a job because they were denied a relocation opportunity - Wakefield Research

Not offering relocation opportunities, or neglecting to provide relocation support:

  • Puts business at real risk of losing people to other companies
  • Leads to extra time, resources and funds spent on recruitment

  1. Failing to attract the best new talent

There’s a serious worker shortage in various industries across the world:

  • UK: estimated shortfall of 2.5 million skilled workers by 2030, costing £120 billion
  • Germany: 2 million unfilled jobs in the last quarter, costing €86 billion per year
  • USA: estimated shortage of 300,000 highly skilled engineers/tech workers by 2030

Pitfalls for People teams:

  • Not hiring from overseas means missing out on the best talent and filling open roles
  • Not providing relocation support will be a lot less appealing to savvy prospective hires

Top five ways to transform the relocation experience

1 - Offer real support, not just a lump sum

Our top piece of advice to improve the experience and your recruitment efforts is to offer actual support, whether in-house or outsourced to a relocation company! This offers:

  • Consistency of experience across locations and functions
  • Visibility of potential risks from gaps in support, and highlighting ways to mitigate this
  • Empowering employees with knowledge of the help and guidance available to them

2 - Align with transferees and manage expectations from the start

When it comes to arranging a move, the many ever-evolving nuances between markets mean assignees’ initial expectations are often out of touch with reality, and here frustration arises. It’s a great idea to arrange an advisory call at the outset to manage expectations, and share data on costs and timelines - this way, you’re more likely to avoid issues down the line.

3 - Use tech capabilities to make consultant support even better

More and more smart relocation solutions are appearing, suitable for an increasingly tech-savvy workforce - augmenting real life expert support with amazing content and handy tools. A basic suite of tech tools massively improves the relocation experience, and they’re often very straightforward to implement.

They may include:

  • Chat functionality with their relocation support team
  • Appointment booking system for property viewings
  • Instructions on processes like local registration and banking 
  • Information on their new city: maps, guides, amenities

4 - Help with home-finding in today’s crazy rental markets

According to a PerchPeek survey, nine out of 10 respondents say home-searching is the most difficult part of a relocation. And that’s hardly surprising, judging by just how crazy and competitive rental markets are in cities all over the world right now. 

How tech- and expert-driven solutions can help relocating employees find a home:

  • Property search assistance - sending through the latest listings instantly
  • Required documents - helping prepare all paperwork and checking applications
  • Property visit guidance - help on how to stand out from the crowd at a viewing
  • Contract review - checking for unreasonable terms and helping avoid scams

These are low-cost solutions that are available through many relocation companies if not catered to internally!

5 - Don’t neglect emotional support!

Providing emotional support doesn’t have to cost a lot, but is essential in keeping employees happy and turning their relocation into a success. Suggestions include:

  • Provide instant message chat support - a place for employees to share questions and concerns
  • Help relocating employees buddy up for advice-sharing and moral support
  • Help employees get involved with the community to build local connections

Check out the full report

Here you can find PerchPeek’s full report, where we dig into all the details on why the relocation experience sucks for employees, why that’s a disaster for their employers, and of course, how to massively improve the experience easily, and without breaking the bank!

Read Report

Back to Resources

Related Post

The Best Global Mobility Policies to Support Relocating Graduates and Interns

June 19, 2024
Read More

How to Choose the Right Company for Corporate Relocation Services

June 19, 2024
Read More

How to Move Employees to the UK - A Comprehensive Playbook for People Leaders

June 19, 2024
Read More

Neighbourhood Finder Tool Launched in the PerchPeek Web App

September 14, 2023
Read More

Contact PerchPeek’s team today!

We’d love to hear more about your mobility program. Chat with one of our account managers to find out how our platform can support your team

Just add your details here; we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
X icon
Get in Touch With PerchPeek Today!

We’d love to hear from you with any questions or concerns about your existing employee mobility program, or we'd love to help you start one!  

The best first step is finding out how our platform can best support your team and all your needs so simply fill out your details and we'll be in touch as fast as possible!

We can't wait to assist with all of your company's relocation needs.