Atlas Posts 2003 Relocation Survey Results

May 7, 2003

EVANSVILLE, IN -- Atlas World Group recently released the results of its 36th annual Corporate Relocation Survey at The Forum on Moving, an event held recently in Baltimore for relocation professionals. First to hear the latest feedback were industry associates gathered to share relocation trends and innovations in a world on the move.

Not surprisingly, the 2003 survey results indicate that "service" is still rated as the most important attribute among corporate decision-makers when they evaluate or select a carrier for their employee transfers and new hire relocation needs. More that 80% of respondents rated "service" as being critically important for domestic moves, with 89% replying that it was critically important in the success of international moves.

Fewer Companies Expect Change in Search for Qualified Candidates
According to survey respondents, not much change is expected in the number of relocations for this year. Fifty-eight percent expect the number of employees relocating will stay the same in 2003, up only 5 percentage points from 2002. Fewer companies expect any change in relocations from 2002 levels, with just 13 percent expecting an increase and 29% expecting a decrease (compared to 20% and 33%, respectively, in last year's survey).

Survey respondents felt that the "lack of qualified people locally," was the primary external factor that caused them to seek candidates outside their geographic area. Forty-seven percent of those replying listed this opinion in 2003, which was quite different from 2001 when only 21% felt this was a concern. Conversely, the economic conditions of companies fell in importance from 77% last year, to 46% in 2003.

The size of the firm seems to affect whether or not human resource and relocation managers believe reorganization and budget constraints affect the number of employees relocated. Corporate reorganization is mentioned by just 21% of small firms, but 45% of large firms cite it as a factor. Eighteen percent of smaller firms, and 45% of larger firms mention budget constraints as having affected their action.

Relocation Services Outsourced as Relo Packages Become Less Generous
The majority of companies (61%) indicate they outsourced relocation services during 2002. This is a significant increase over 1999 survey results, when only 47% were using outside agencies for relocation assistance. The majority of respondents used the Internet to manage relocation related matters in 2002, with e-mail being the primary application.

This year the survey attempted to unearth whether there are differences between the amount of assistance transferees receive versus what new hires receive. Transferees are more likely to receive full reimbursement for moving expenses than new hires (70% vs. 56%).

New hires are more likely to receive partial reimbursement (38% of companies using this method some or all of the time) than transferees (25%). However, lump sum payment as a reimbursement method appears to be equally available to both types of employees (30%).

Also, this year's survey results show that overall relocation packages are becoming less generous. The number of companies providing the core benefit of "packing all items" decreased somewhat from 86% to 79%. However, the additional "non-core" benefits were reduced dramatically. For example, the percentage of companies covering the move of exercise equipment dropped from 88% to 57%. Additionally, only 15% indicate the company will pay to move items from a secondary residence, down from 42% last year. These drops in benefits occurred across companies of all sizes.

Assistance to Spouses and Partners Can Be Deal Breaker
Companies seem to be realizing that to attract the candidate, they must also provide assistance to the candidate's spouse or partner. In 2002, forty-two percent of companies responded that they assist an employee's spouse or partner in finding employment in the new location, while only 23% percent provided such assistance in 2001. While large companies were always somewhat more likely to offer spousal assistance, this year the gap widened dramatically. This year, sixty-two percent of large companies indicate they provide this assistance versus 32% of small companies.

Overall, of those who indicated they offered this type of benefit, the top method of assistance was finding employment outside the company. Larger firms were more generous with the range of tools they offered, including paying a job finder's fee (42%), finding employment within the company (35%), finding employment outside the company (33%), and other methods (40%). Smaller companies are much more likely to help spouses find employment outside the company, for perhaps obvious reasons.

This increase in spousal assistance appears to be in response to employee concerns. The percentage of respondents indicating that an employee's relocation is "never affected" by the employment status of that employee's spouse has significantly decreased; it was 11% in 2002, versus 31% in 2001 and 25% in 2000. Conversely, the percentage of respondents indicating this "almost always" or "frequently" effects the employee's relocation has significantly increased; it was 42% in 2002 versus 17% in 2001 and 25% in 2000. Additionally, when asked for reasons employees declined relocation, "spouse's employment" moved up to the number two reason overall at 57%, second only to "family issues/ties" at 79%.

In last year's survey, "spouse's employment" was the fourth most cited reason at 53%, behind "family issues" (81%), "personal" (62%), and "no desire to move" (59%).

Survey Results Posted Online
Detailed information on the 36th Annual Corporate Relocation Survey may be accessed on the web at This year's study was conducted on the Internet during January and February 2003. More than half of the companies surveyed are international firms. Most respondents were employees of their companies Human Resources and Personnel Services departments.

Headquartered in Evansville, IN, Atlas is the nation's second largest carrier of household goods with some 600 agents in the United States and Canada. Atlas specializes in corporate employee relocation and in the transport of high-value goods such as electronics, fine arts, and new fixtures and furniture.