EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Faced with a shortage of local qualified workers, a tough housing market and a weakening economy, many companies are offering more relocation benefits to new hires and transferees, according to Atlas' 2008 Corporate Relocation Survey, released today. Over four decades, the survey has revealed trends in employment benefits, globalization, the workforce and the U.S. economy.
More than half of firms surveyed reported that an employee said no to relocation last year – a number that is similar to previous years – but compared to last year, twice as many firms saw an increase in the number of declined relocations, the highest in six years.
"Whether it's because employees don't want to move their kids to a new school or they've just paid off their mortgage, it's becoming increasingly difficult to lure top talent to a new city," said Greg Hoover, president and chief operating officer of Atlas Van Lines, Inc. "To remain competitive, businesses are becoming more generous. They're offering spousal perks and full reimbursement; they're paying for losses on home sales."
Atlas, an Evansville-based corporate relocation, transportation and global logistics firm, announces its survey each year to coincide with the Atlas Forum on Moving, which took place April 24-25 in Chicago.
"I think businesses are realizing that they have to provide incentives beyond the job itself to convince an employee to move to a new city," said Hoover. "In addition to having extra money in their wallet, employees want to work for a company that addresses their individual needs. In the long run, that kind of employee loyalty is worth the extra effort and money."
Here's a closer look at developing trends in corporate relocation:
- The percentage of companies offering employment assistance to spouses and partners is at its highest level in five years – 42 percent of companies surveyed offered that perk.
- All types of reimbursement – full, partial and lump sum payments – increased over the previous year. The percentage of firms offering lump sum payments was the highest in six years, as is the percentage of firms using partial reimbursements for transferees. Full reimbursement rebounded from its drop in 2006 and 2007. Now, 63 percent of firms offer the benefit to transferees and 54 percent offer it to new hires.
- Three-fourths of companies reimburse moving companies to pack all items; more than 60 percent reimburse for moving a car and exercise equipment.
- Since last year, at least 10 percent more companies are covering the costs to move recreation and lawn equipment, a second automobile, and valuable collections.
- For the third year in a row, the top external factor affecting relocations is the lack of qualified people locally.
- In addition to struggling to find local talent, significantly more large firms than small or midsize firms indicate the real estate market affected relocation volumes in 2007.
- Family ties are still the No. 1 reason employees decline relocations, but housing and mortgage concerns are closing the gap. The percentage of firms that cited this as the reason employees said no to moves jumped from 30 percent in 2007 to 50 percent this year. In large firms, the cost of living in the new location surpasses family ties.
- Roughly half of responding firms indicated the U.S. economy worsened in 2007 (but only 9 percent predicted it would last year). And nearly half – 45 percent – expect 2008 will yield a continued decline.
Location, location, location
- The South was the top destination of transfer (29 percent) followed by the Midwest (27 percent) and the Northeast (26 percent).
- Among international relocations, the most frequent destinations were: Asia/Pacific Rim (31 percent), Europe (31 percent) and the United Kingdom (28 percent).
Survey fast facts:
- Nearly 1/3 of firms said declining a relocation usually hinders an employee's career.
- More than 2/3 of transfers fall into the 30-40 age group.
- Sixty-four percent of companies performed better financially in 2007 than 2006.
- Nearly 3/4 of companies have a formal relocation policy. Nearly 100 percent of firms with more than 5,000 employees have such a policy, but only 55 percent of companies with less than 500 do.
- Seventy-two percent of firms have tiers or levels within relocation policies. The average number of tiers is 2.9.
- Twenty-one percent of responding firms say employees have one week or less to accept a transfer offer.
- Nearly half – 48 percent – of relocations involve employees with children.
Nearly 350 corporate relocation professionals completed this year's survey online; the survey was conducted between Jan. 16 and Feb. 29, 2008. Most respondents work in human resources or personnel departments for service, manufacturing, financial and government organizations, and about half work for international companies. Nearly half of the respondents represent firms with fewer than 500 salaried employees, while 54 percent represent midsize and large firms.
For complete survey results, visit www.atlasworldgroup.com/survey.
Atlas Van Lines is the largest subsidiary of Atlas World Group, an Evansville, Ind.-based company that posted record revenues of $943 million in 2007. Atlas World Group companies employ more than 700 people throughout North America. More than 500 Atlas agents in the United States and Canada specialize in corporate employee relocation and in the transportation of high-value items such as electronics, fine art and new fixtures and furniture. Visit www.atlasworldgroup.com for more information on the company and Atlas agents.