Like practically everything else, relocation has moved online. According to results from Atlas Van Lines' 32nd annual survey of corporate relocation policies, 71 percent of 214 participating relocation executives reported that they use the internet to research, administer and track employee relocations. That's up dramatically from six percent usage reported three years ago, 19 percent usage reported two years ago, and 48 percent usage reported in 1998.
The greatest number of relocation professionals responding to the survey (27.3 percent) stated that they use the internet to communicate via e-mail with relocating employees (including pre-move and post-move correspondence). More than 21 percent reported they use the internet to research relocation-related matters (including survey information, real estate and trailing spouse assistance). Slightly more than four percent of respondents said they use the internet for other types of relocation-related matters, and 29.2 percent stated they do not use the internet in their departments.
"The dramatic increase in the use of the internet mirrors the growth rate of the technology," states Steve Mumma, senior vice president of marketing and public relations for Atlas Van Lines. "Clearly, more and more relocation professionals are finding the speed and convenience of the internet to be an important tool."
There's been a lot of talk about the use of more generous relocation packages to attract and retain desirable employees in a tightening job market - but the numbers don't show a significant change in the provision of relocation benefits. For example, employment assistance for trailing spouses - a factor that can make a significant impact on the overall success of a relocation - is down slightly among survey respondents compared to the number of companies providing this service in 1996 (reflected in the1997 survey).
While 21 percent of respondents in the 1997 survey reported that they assisted trailing spouses by paying job finder's fees or helping to locate a job outside or inside the company, 19 percent of respondents in the 1999 survey reported that they provide employment assistance for trailing spouses. The numbers from past surveys also indicate that even though companies have cut down on relocation "extras" - including the number of full-time employees working in HR departments -- many are compensating by increasing their investment in counseling and family services that are designed to help ensure a positive, trauma-free relocation.
"Accommodating family needs and concerns continues to be one of the keys to a successful relocation program," Mumma says. "Spousal employment assistance is still an important issue, as is the recognition of the special requirements for those employees who have elder care responsibilities. Companies who provide service in these areas demonstrate their 'corporate hearts.'"
On the subject of relocation costs, 58 percent of this year's survey participants - ten percent fewer than last year -- reported that they provide full reimbursement for the cost of an employee transfer. In 1997, 72 percent of survey respondents said they provided full reimbursement for an employee move.
And for the eighteenth consecutive year (since the question was first asked in 1981), service has been ranked as the most important factor in selecting a household goods carrier for both domestic and international relocations. For domestic relocations, price, reputation, familiarity with local agents, and claims processing ranked second through fifth, respectively, in terms of carrier evaluation. For international moves, price, reputation, and third-party assistance ranked second through fourth in importance. The Survey will be posted on the Atlas Web site: www.atlasvanlines.com. Hard copies of the Survey are available through Atlas Corporate Communications at (812) 421-7183. With its world headquarters in Evansville, Ind., Atlas Van Lines is a major transporter of household goods and special products through more than 800 agents worldwide.