Atlas Amplifier — Summer 2003
|Atlas is pleased to give Amplifier
readers a brief overview of findings from the 2003 Corporate Relocation
Survey. This is the first year the study was conducted via the Internet,
inviting respondents via e-mail to participate in the survey. This year, 316
online questionnaires were completed between January 22 and February 28. In
order to qualify for the survey, a respondent must have relocation responsibility,
and his/her company had to have relocated employees in the past two years or plan
to relocate employees this year.
Most respondents (78%) work in human resources or personnel departments for
Over half (56%) of the companies surveyed this year are international firms.
Based on the number of employees, the sizes of participating firms are similar to last year, except for an increase of firms with 5,000+ salaried employees. Forty-six percent of the companies surveyed employ less than 500 salaried workers; more than one quarter have 500-4,999 such employees; and more than one quarter employ 5,000 or more.
Eighty percent of the companies surveyed have a formal relocation policy, which is an increase from last year's survey percentage (73%), and is closer to the 2001 survey reported percentage of 87 percent. Interestingly, small companies showed no change in the penetration of formal relocation policies (63% in both this year and last). All of this year's increase came from the medium (76% to 90%) and large (94% to 99%) firms. Only the small firms remained significantly below 2001 survey levels (73%).
Among the decision-makers who responded, most (78%) work in human resources or personnel, similar to the 79% reported in last year's survey. The two most popular trade publications are HR Magazine and Human Resource Executive, read by 65% and 58% of respondents, respectively. These are followed by Mobility (32%) and HR News (28%). Readership in all magazines showed an increase from last year's survey. Human Resource Executive showed the largest increase, most likely due to the fact that its e-mail mailing list was the largest source of respondents.
Overall, year over year budget changes were similar in 2002 and 2001. However, large firms in 2002 were more likely to have seen a budget decrease than they were in 2001. Looking forward to 2003, there may be some weakness in small company's relocation budgets, as only 12% are expecting an increase over 2002 budgets.
Fifty-eight percent of respondents expect the number of employees relocating will stay the same in 2003, up from 2002 level of 47%. Fewer companies expect any change in relocations from 2002 levels, with just 13% expecting an increase and 29% expecting a decrease (compared to 20% and 33%, respectively, in last year's survey).
Over 80% of respondents indicated at least one external factor had a significant impact on the number of employee relocations in 2002. Overall, the "lack of qualified people locally" was the top reason indicated (47%), much different compared with 21% in 2001. The impact of "economic conditions" fell in importance from 77% last year to 46% this year. However, an interesting difference surfaces in comparing by company size, as the impact of these two factors was rated quite differently for large versus small companies. For large companies, "economic conditions" was the most frequently cited external issue (60% vs. 31% for "lack of qualified people locally"), while the "lack of qualified people locally" was the more important issue for small companies (58% vs. 40% for "economic conditions"). Medium-size companies reported almost equal weight between the two factors (44% and 45%, respectively).
Internal company conditions affecting relocations varied broadly in 2002; the top two cited being the "growth of the company" (40%) and "promotions/resignations" (40%). "Corporate reorganization" and "budget constraints," the third and fourth most important internal factors, appear to increase in importance with the size of the firm. "Corporate reorganization" is mentioned by just 21% of small firms, but 45% of large firms. "Budget constraints" are mentioned by 18% and 48%, respectively.
Sixty-one percent of companies indicate they outsourced relocation services during 2002. This is up from 47% in the 1999 survey, the last time this question was asked in a comparable way. The most popular outsourced service overall was "real estate sales/purchase" (51%), followed by the contracting of a household goods moving company (38%), arrangement of the family's transportation and accommodations (33%), and the counseling about the planning and details of moving (30%). Small companies (39%) are much less likely to outsource relocation services than medium (72%) and large (87%) firms. Additionally, medium and large companies seem to be outsourcing a greater variety of their relocation services than small companies.
Seventy percent of respondents used the Internet for relocation-related matters in 2002. E-mail communication was the primary application (65%); with 49% using the Internet to research relocation-related matters. Small companies (55%) are much less likely to use the Internet for relocation-related matters than medium (74%) and large (90%) companies.
This year the survey attempted to unearth whether there are differences between the amount of assistance transferees receive in relocation versus new hires. 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 the time) than transferees (25%). However, lump sum payment as a reimbursement method appears to be equally available to both types of employees (30%). Smaller companies are less likely to provide full reimbursement compared to larger companies. Fewer than 10% provide no reimbursement for relocated employees.
It appears 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.
In 2002, there was an increase in the number of companies that assist an employee's spouse or partner in finding employment in the new location (42%), surpassing levels seen in 2001 (23%) and 2000 (34%). 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 assistance, the top method of assistance was finding employment outside the company (44%). However, the method of assistance offered to spouses/partners appears to differ by company size. Large companies used a range of tools at roughly equal levels - paying a job finder's fee (42%), finding employment within the company (35%), finding employment outside the company (33%), and other methods (40%). Small companies are much more likely to help spouses/partners find employment outside the company (62%) than find employment within the company (26%) or pay a job-finders fee (9%).
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 (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 (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 (57%), second only to "family issues/ties" (79%). In last year's survey, "spouse's employment" was the fourth (at 53%) most-cited reason, behind "family issues" (81%), "personal" (62%), and "no desire to move" (59%).
Companies have, on average, 1.4 standing contracts with household goods carriers, similar to last year's 1.3 survey result. Sixty-six percent of respondents with contracted carriers said their company has preferred carriers. While small companies are less likely than large companies to have contracted carriers (44% vs. 87%), in a reversal from last year's findings, small companies with contracts are slightly more likely than large companies to have preferred carriers (75% vs. 64%).
"Service" is still the most important attribute among corporate decision-makers when evaluating or selecting a carrier (More than 80% of respondents rated this "critically important", or a "9" or "10" on a 10-point scale, excluding "don't knows"). For international moves, this attribute was also of chief importance among decision-makers when selecting a carrier (89% rated it "critically important").
Forty-seven percent of respondents say that they sometimes transfer employees between countries (82% of large companies, 44% of medium, and 28% of small). Of these, 73% offer "no assistance" to help the spouses or partners of internationally transferred employees find employment in the new location (an improvement over last year's 85%). Sixty-one percent of companies who transfer employees internationally reported having at least one failed or declined transfer. Lack of spousal assistance, however, was the reason cited in just 15% of these instances.