2010 Corporate Relocation Survey

 
Results 43: Corporate Relocation Survey - Year 2010 Results 43: Corporate Relocation Survey - Year 2010

 

Who Responded?

To qualify for survey participation, a respondent must have relocation responsibility and work for a company that has either relocated employees within the past two years or plans to relocate employees this year. Atlas sent invitations to participate via e-mail and 274 respondents completed online questionnaires between January 11 and February 26.

  • Most respondents (79%) work in human resources/personnel or relocation services departments for firms in:
    • service (40%)
    • manufacturing/processing (33%)
    • wholesale/retail (11%)
    • financial (10%)
    • government/military (1%)
    • other industries (4%)
  • For analysis, responding firms are categorized by size:
    • 39% have less than 500 salaried employees (small)
    • 32% have 500-4,999 salaried employees (mid-size)
    • 29% have 5,000+ salaried employees (large)
  • Over half (53%) of the companies surveyed this year are international firms.


Results Highlights

Relocation Volumes and Budgets

Volume and Budget Expectations Improve

Overall, companies are significantly more optimistic. The percentages of firms expecting decreases this year for both relocation volumes and budgets are down by about half from 2009. More than 1 in 5 firms expect relocation volumes to increase in 2010, and roughly one-fourth or more of mid-size and large firms expect budgets to increase as well.

Small firms are the least optimistic, with roughly a third expecting decreases in volumes and budgets. Large firms have the brightest outlook; the vast majority anticipates stability or increases in both categories. Interestingly, while relocation volumes and budgets decreased last year for a third or more of firms overall, more mid-size and large firms than small report decreases, and nearly twice as many small firms than large report increases in relocation volumes in 2009 (23% vs. 13%). This may indicate that small firms are feeling a greater recessionary pinch on relocation than are mid-size and large firms who reined in relocation activity more tightly last year.

While the percentages of firms expecting further cuts to relocation volumes and budgets are still higher than in recent non-recessionary years, the numbers of firms expecting increases are roughly twice that of last year, indicating the beginnings of recovery for the industry.

  • The median number of relocations by mid-size ("10-19") and large ("100-199") firms remains lower for the second year in a row; these average volumes are down from "20-49" and "200-399" ranges reported 2002 through 2007.
  • While more than one-third of both manufacturing/processing and for-profit service firms saw relocation volumes decrease in 2009, manufacturing/processing firms were more likely than service firms to have had relocation budget cuts last year (38% vs. 24%). Expectations for 2010 are similar from both types of firms: about one-fifth or more expect increases in relocation volumes and budgets, and roughly one-fourth expect decreases.
  • International firm relocations appear to have been hit hardest; half report relocation volumes decreased in 2009, significantly more than about a third of regional and national firms. International firms were more likely to have seen budget cuts in 2009 as well: 39% reported budget cuts compared to less than one-fourth of regional firms. However, about a fifth or more of regional, national, and international firms expect increases in relocation volumes and budgets for 2010.
International Relocation Volume

Stability Expected Overall

Internationally, relocation volume expectations are up slightly compared to 2009. Nearly two-thirds of firms expect international volumes to remain stable, 18% predict increases, and 17% predict decreases (39% expected decreases in 2009). Looking by company size, some predictions are similar to overall relocation volumes: about one-fifth of mid-size and large firms expect international relocations to increase, while small firms are less optimistic – one-third predict their international relocation volumes will decrease.

The international relocation market experienced far less retraction in volume than overall relocation in 2009; just over one-fourth of firms reported international relocation volumes decreased in 2009, far less than 42% of firms experiencing decreases in relocation overall. However, decreases in relocation volume did vary across company size. While fewer than a third of small firms reported relocation volumes decreased in 2009, nearly half said international relocation volumes decreased last year. Conversely, roughly half or more of mid-size and large firms saw relocation volumes decrease overall last year, but fewer than one-third of mid-size and fewer than one-fifth of large firms saw international relocation volumes decrease.

  • While manufacturing/processing firms are more likely to report decreases in international relocation volumes than for-profit service firms for 2009 (32% vs. 16%), over half of both firm types expect international relocation to remain stable in 2010, with close to a fifth or more anticipating increases.
Question 4: Overall Relocation Volume
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Question 44b: International Relocation Volume
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Economic Outlook

Guarded Optimism Emerges; Improved Predictions for Individual Firm Performances, Overall Economy

Firms' 2010 predictions for their companies, the U.S. economy and real estate market signal guarded optimism. The majority of firms expect their financial performances to improve and roughly half expect the U.S. economy to improve in 2010. For the U.S. real estate market, expectations are more influenced by company size: more than half of small and mid-size firms indicate they expect stability, while just a third or more expect improvement in 2010. Large firms are more optimistic – about half expect improvement over last year. The most important trend is that the vast majority of responding firms expect improvement or stability, not decline, compared to the far more dire experiences and expectations of 2008-2009.

  • Significantly more large than mid-size or small firms indicate their financial performances improved in 2009 (54% vs. 41% and 36%). However, the percentages of firms expecting improved financial performances for 2010 more than doubles among small, mid-size and large firms compared to 2009 (54% vs. 26%, 68% vs. 27%, and 70% vs. 27%).
  • Both manufacturing/processing and for-profit service firms are split on financial performances for their firms in 2009; about 40% reported better financial performances and roughly 40% reported worse. For 2010, manufacturing/processing firms are slightly more optimistic than service firms (70% vs. 59%), but the overwhelming consensus from firms in both industries (96%) is that they expect financial improvement or stability this year.
  • More than a third of nationally and internationally operating firms report their firms' financial performances worsened in 2009, compared to about a fourth of regional firms. However, international firms are the most optimistic regarding performance improvement in 2010; close to three-fourths of these firms expect improvement compared to about half of national or regional firms.
  • Northeastern, Midwestern, and Southern firms are the most optimistic on financial performances: close to two-thirds expect improvement, compared to about half of firms from other regions.
  • Close to half of firms expect the U.S. economy to improve in 2010 across company size, business reach, regions of the U.S. and manufacturing/processing and service industries. The exceptions are that slightly fewer small firms (40%), regional and national firms (41%), and firms based in the Southwest (38%) and Central/West (33%) regions share this optimism.
  • Southern firms are the most optimistic regarding the U.S. real estate market; more than half expect improvement this year, compared to about one-third or less of firms in other regions.

 

Market Impact on Relocations

Employee Category Determines Impact

When asked how market pressure impacted relocation, firms said relocations for entry level/new hire and middle management employees were more likely to see decreases than relocations for senior managers and executives. About 4 out of 10 firms report decreasing relocations for the first two categories, while a little more than one-fourth decreased relocations for senior managers/executives. Nearly one-fifth of firms report relocation volumes among senior employees actually increased in response to market pressures. Interestingly, in 2008 over half of large firms indicated they decreased relocations of entry level/new hires in response to market pressures, but in 2009, this number fell significantly to just about a third. More than half said entry level/new hire relocations were unaffected by the market.

  • Close to half of manufacturing/processing firms decreased the number of employee relocations for entry level/new hire and middle management employees, while just over a third of for-profit service firms did so.
  • About half of international firms decreased the number of employee relocations for entry level/new hires, nearly double the percentages of regional and national firms who did so, in response to market pressures. Half of international firms decreased relocations for middle management employees as well, compared to about a third of regional and national firms. About 1 in 5 regional and national firms actually report increasing middle management employee relocations in 2009 in response to market pressures, compared to 12% of international firms.
Question 6: Market Pressures Impact on Relocation Volumes
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Employees Declining Relocation

Continued Increases; Housing/Mortgage Issues Continue to Play Major Role

While an unmistakable influence, market pressures aren't solely responsible for dragging down relocation volumes for the second straight year. Employee reluctance to relocate continues to play a major role as well. More than half (56%) of firms saw employees decline the opportunity to relocate in 2009, and nearly a third of firms say the number declining relocation last year increased. Mid-size and large firms continue to feel the brunt of employee reluctance; 30% of mid-size firms and 42% of large firms say more employees declined relocations in 2009 compared to the previous year (vs. 19% of small firms).

  • Six out of 10 national and international firms reported declined relocations in 2009 compared to only 42% of regional firms. Additionally, over a fourth of national and nearly a third of international firms experienced increases in declined relocations.
  • More for-profit service firms report declined relocations in 2009 than manufacturing/processing firms (62% vs. 47%).

Not surprisingly, housing/mortgage concerns topped reasons employees declined relocations for the second year in a row. Those concerns (77%) remain above family issues/ties (51%), which had been the top issue cited since its addition to the survey in 1983.

  • For large firms, housing/mortgage concerns are by far the biggest factor; 88% indicate employees declined relocation for this reason.
  • While housing/mortgage concerns are the biggest issue cited by small and mid-size firms as well (63% and 74%, respectively), roughly half or more of these firms also cite family issues/ties and spouse/partner employment as reasons relocations were declined in 2009.
  • For international firms, housing/mortgage concerns are the biggest issue – 83% indicate employees declined relocations for this reason. This is significantly more than at regional firms where three factors had similar impact – housing/mortgage concerns (59%), family issues/ties (55%) and spouse/partner employment (50%).
Question 10a: Select Reasons Relocations Declined: 2002-2009
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Incentives & Cost Containment

Finding the Right Mix

Most firms offered incentives to encourage employee relocations in 2009: Cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) (65%) and relocation bonuses (56%) were the most popular incentives in 2008, but in 2009 extending duplicate/temporary housing benefits (69%) became the top incentive. Relocation bonuses, loss-on-sale protection, and COLAs rounded out the top four methods used last year. About 9 out of 10 companies said extra incentives "almost always" or "frequently" convinced an employee to relocate.

  • For mid-size and large firms, extended duplicate/temporary housing benefits were the clearly preferred incentive (offered by 3 out of 4 firms).
  • Mid-size and large firms are also much more likely to have offered loss-on-sale protection as an incentive than small firms (52% and 62% vs. 18%).
  • For small firms, the top two incentives were extended duplicate/temporary housing benefits and relocation bonuses (59% and 50%).
  • National and international firms are more likely to have offered COLAs than regional firms (40% and 41% vs. 23%) and international firms are more likely than regional or national firms to have offered loss-on-sale protection (52% vs. 26% and 37%).

At the same time, most firms said they worked to contain costs in relocation policy/practice over the past year as well. While about a third of all firms capped relocation benefit amounts, large firms are the most likely to have reviewed/renegotiated supplier contracts last year (42%) and tightened real estate assistance requirements (33%). Mid-size and large firms are also more likely to have restructured policy tiers/eligibility for certain benefits than small firms (28% and 33% vs. 11%, respectively).

  • For-profit service firms are more likely to have capped relocation benefit amounts and limited miscellaneous allowance benefits than manufacturing/processing firms (44% vs. 26% and 29% vs. 11%, respectively).
  • International firms are more likely to have instituted the following cost-cutting measures in relocation policies/practices than regional or national firms in 2009.
    – Review/renegotiate supplier contracts (32% vs. 16% and 21%).
    – Restructure policy tiers/eligibility for certain benefits (29% vs. 15% and 16%).
    – Offer short-term/extended travel/commuter arrangements rather than relocation (25% vs. 7% and 13%).

 

External Factors

Economic Conditions Increase in Importance; Lack of Qualified Local Talent Decreases

Economic conditions had the biggest effect on relocation volumes in 2009, cited by roughly half or more of firms, and surpassed the lack of qualified people locally overall by a wide margin (53% vs. 31%) for the first time since 2003. Additionally, the impact of the lack of qualified people locally overall dropped significantly compared to 2008 (31% vs. 46%). The percentages of firms citing economic conditions as a major factor in relocation volumes in 2008-2009 are similar to the previous recessionary peaks of 2002-2003 and 1991-1992, and are up significantly from 2005-2007. The lack of qualified people locally falls significantly below 2002, 2004-2008 levels, surpassing the lowest percentage reported in the last recession (2003: 37%), but remains above lows seen in 1988-1995. Overall, the impact of the real estate market remains similar to that of 2008.

However, the impact of these factors varies by company size. For large firms, the real estate market (56%) was weighted nearly equally to economic issues (57%). For small firms, the real estate market had less impact than the lack of qualified local talent (25% vs. 34%). For mid-size firms, the lack of qualified local talent was nearly equal in weight to the real estate market (38% vs. 43%). Despite these differences, the decrease of the lack of qualified local talent and increase in economic conditions as impacting factors is the overarching trend across firms of all sizes.

Historically, although about a third of small firms report the lack of qualified local talent remains a major factor, this is the lowest percentage in eight years. Nearly half or more of these firms cited this as the top issue 2002-2008. Economic conditions became the top external factor in 2009 with nearly half of small firms saying it had the biggest impact on relocation volumes.

For large firms, the percentage citing economic conditions (57%) is similar to 2002-2004 and 2008 (55%+); the percentage citing real estate remains similar to 2008 (56% vs. 52%) and significantly above 2007 (37%). The percentage of large firms citing the lack of qualified local talent is the lowest in eight years (18%). While similar to 2003 (23%), this is still roughly half of 2007-2008 levels (39% and 37%) and far from the highs seen 2005-2006 (51%+) when the lack of a qualified local labor pool was a much more dominant factor.

The highest percentage of mid-size firms in eight years cite economic conditions as a major factor (57%), similar to 2008 (44%) and nearly three times 2006-2007 (18%+). The number citing the real estate market remains more than double 2007 (43% vs. 18%). While the lack of qualified people locally falls to 38%, this remains similar to 2002-2004 and 2008 (36%+), substantially below 2005-2007 when more than half saw this as a driving force in relocation.

Additional Insights:

  • Significantly more small and mid-size firms than large indicate the lack of qualified local talent impacted relocation volumes in 2009 (34% and 38% vs. 18%), and significantly more mid-size and large firms than small indicate the real estate market impacted relocation volumes in 2009 (43% and 56% vs. 25%).
  • For international firms, the largest external factor impacting relocation was economic conditions (59%), significantly more than any other issue. National firms, however, cite economic conditions, the lack of qualified people locally, and the real estate market more closely (49% and 40%, respectively). Among regional firms, the top issue was economic conditions (44%), with the lack of qualified people locally and real estate market following close behind (36% and 30%).
  • International firms cite economic conditions much more frequently than regional firms as playing a major role in relocation volume last year (59% vs. 44%). Additionally, significantly more regional and national firms than international cite the lack of qualified people locally as a key issue (36% and 40% vs. 24%).
Question 12: Select External Factors Impacting Relocation: 1988-2009
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Internal Factors

Company Growth Retracts Further, Surpassing Historic Lows; Budget Constraints Continue Increasing

Overall, the impact of company growth on relocation volumes in 2009 fell to its lowest level in 21 years (24%), surpassing the previous historic lows in 2008 (33%) and 1991-1992 (38% and 39%). This indicates significant retraction again last year compared to the previous seven years. The impact of budget constraints increased again compared to the past five years and is now nearly equal to 2002-2003 (29% vs. 28% and 31%). This is the first time budget constraints have surpassed company growth as a factor in relocation volume.

While the top internal factor varies by company size, the continued decrease in company growth and increase in budget constraints is the key trend across firms of all sizes. Three internal factors affected large firms nearly equally: knowledge/skills transfers (35%), budget constraints (34%) and corporate reorganization (29%), with budget constraints surpassing company growth (23%) for the first time since 2002-2003. Mid-size firms indicate promotions/resignations as the largest internal factor (43%) impacting relocations in 2009, nearly identical to 2008 (42%). Typically second to company growth, this factor has shown primacy the past two years, as in 2002. Budget constraints (34%) and corporate reorganization (33%) are in second place, both surpassing company growth (22%) for the first time. Small firms are the only ones indicating budget constraints (21%) did not surpass growth (28%) in impacting 2009 relocation volumes.

  • Manufacturing/processing firms are more likely to report facility closings as having an impact on relocation in 2009 (22% vs. 12%), and for-profit service firms are more likely to report expansion into new territories and the use of short-term assignments (19% vs. 8% and 17% vs. 8%).
  • International firms report the impact of budget constraints as their top internal factor (34%). National firms cite promotions/resignations (40%), and regional firms cite promotions/resignations and company growth nearly equally (31% and 28%).
  • Promotions/resignations impacted relocations at national firms more often than international firms (40% vs. 25%), and knowledge/skills transfers and corporate reorganization were bigger factors at national firms than regional firms in 2009 (35% vs. 18% and 32% vs. 18%).
Question 13: Select Internal Factors Impacting Relocation: 1988-2009
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Outsourcing

Slight Decline, Overall Identical to 2005 and 2007; Varies by Company Size

Fifty-five percent of companies outsourced relocation services during 2009, down from 2002-2004 and 2008 (61%+). This is identical to 2005 and 2007 and similar to 2006. Generally, mid-size and large companies continue to outsource a significantly greater variety of relocation services than small companies do, and small firms are still much less likely to outsource relocation services than are mid-size and large firms. The only significant differences between large and mid-size firms among individual outsourcing categories are in counseling about company policy, real estate sales/marketing, real estate purchase, property management, and audit/payment of invoices (large firms are more likely to outsource these services). For all other outsourced items, mid-size and large firm outsourcing levels are similar in 2009. Close to one-fifth or more of mid-size and large companies outsourced the relocation-related services listed in the survey.

Overall Shifts

  • Outsourcing decreases across every service category from 2008; the largest shifts occur in transportation/shipment-related items.
  • Significantly fewer companies outsourced the arrangement of family transportation and accommodations than in 2002-2004, 2006-2008 (19% vs. roughly a third or less); this is the lowest percentage outsourcing this function in eight years.
  • Roughly a third or more firms outsourced the contract of household goods carrier(s) 2002-2008; this percentage dropped in 2009 to 23%, the lowest percentage of firms outsourcing this function in eight years.
  • After increasing from 2005-2008, the percentage of firms outsourcing household goods shipment monitoring dropped significantly in 2009 (23% vs. 34%).

Outsourcing Changes by Company Size

Slightly fewer mid-size firms outsourced in 2009 than in 2008 (62% vs. 69%) with decreases occurring across individual categories except for expense tracking/reimbursement, which remains nearly identical to 2008 (36% vs. 37%), the highest in five years. The most dramatic decreases are in the outsourcing of family transportation/accommodations and household goods carrier contracts, falling significantly below 2008 (44% and 49%) to the lowest levels in eight years (21% and 23%).

Similar to the past seven years, the majority (78%) of large firms outsourced. Most percentages remain similar to 2008, even though the majority decreased slightly across categories. The exception is claims assistance outsourcing, which drops significantly below 2002-2004 and 2006-2008 (22% vs. 36%+). Also of note: outsourcing levels of real estate sales/marketing, expense tracking/reimbursement, and invoice audit/payment remain essentially unchanged in four years.

Overall, outsourcing across categories at small firms is similar to the past three years, maintaining slight gains over 2005 even though trending lower overall (orientation tours is the exception – 8% vs. 9% in 2005).

Additional Insights:

  • International firms are more likely than national or regional firms to outsource relocation services (67% vs. 47% and 34%). However, international and national firms share similar likelihoods of outsourcing real estate purchases (41% vs. 32%), property management (23% vs. 16%), arrangement of family transportation/accommodations (23% vs. 21%), claims assistance (21% vs. 13%), and supplementary services (12% vs. 19%).
  • Half or more of manufacturing/processing and for-profit service firms outsourced relocation services in 2009 (62% and 50%, respectively). However, manufacturing/processing firms are more likely to have outsourced expense tracking/reimbursement (37% vs. 22%), tax gross-up assistance (36% vs. 19%), counseling about the planning and details of relocation (34% vs. 19%), and invoice audit/payment (30% vs. 18%).
Question 46: Outsourcing
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Relocation Reimbursement/Payment

Greater Use of Multiple Reimbursement Methods Continues

In 2008, more companies began using lump sum and partial reimbursement options for transferees, and this trend continues. Full reimbursement is still used by more firms for transferees in general, but more than 40% are now using one of these other methods as well. For new hires, the shift in reimbursement methods away from favoring full reimbursement occurred in 2006-2007 with partial reimbursement gaining prominence, followed by the increasing use of lump sum payments in 2008-2010. Over the past two years the percentages of firms using full, lump sum, or partial reimbursement for new hires have become nearly identical, indicating that the method used is dependent on the relocating employee's situation/status or the company's policy tier criteria, rather than one standard policy.

  • In 2010, the percentages of firms offering full reimbursement to transferees or new hires are falling below the 2008-2009 levels that came near 2003-2005 highs, but remain similar to the past four years. Close to half of companies continue to utilize lump sum payments in 2010 for either employee group. Percentages of firms offering partial reimbursement to transferees or new hires nearly meet or exceed eight-year highs.
  • The majority of large firms (53%) offer lump sum payments to new hires, followed by 47% offering full reimbursement and 45% offering partial. This is a shift from most of the past seven years when the majority of large firms offered full reimbursement to new hires.
  • Small firms remain the least likely to offer lump sum payments to new hires (38% vs. 57% and 53%) or transferees (31% vs. 49% and 52%).

Additional Insights:

  • Regional and international firms are more likely to offer full reimbursement than partial reimbursement to transferees (56% vs. 36% and 62% vs. 40%, respectively), while national firms share similar likelihoods of offering either method (56% vs. 47%).
  • Most manufacturing/processing firms and for-profit service firms (57% and 67%) offer full reimbursement to transferees. However, nearly half (46%) also indicate utilizing lump sum payments and show a similar likelihood of offering partial reimbursement (45% and 39%) as well.
  • A majority of firms in every region of the U.S. offers full reimbursement to transferees. For new hires, roughly half of firms in every region except the Southwest (36%) offer full reimbursement.

As in the past seven years, the majority of firms, regardless of size, report that carrier transportation expenses are "paid directly by the company" for either transferees or new hires. However, small firms continue to be more likely than large or mid-size firms to have moving expenses paid by the employee and then reimbursed.

  • The majority of both manufacturing/processing and for-profit service firms pay transportation expenses directly for transferees (92% and 84%) and new hires (92% and 77%). Manufacturing/processing firms are more likely than for-profit service firms to do this for new hires.
  • Regional firms are more likely than national or international firms to require transferees to pay transportation expenses and reimburse them (41% vs. 22% and 18%). For new hires, about one-fifth of national and international firms follow this policy, compared to 30% of regional firms.
Question 27: Relocation Reimbursement Methods
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Cost Coverage

The vast majority (91%) of companies reimburse or pay for some relocation costs for transferees or new hires, similar to the past seven years. Overall, coverages of core relocation expenses (i.e. pack all items, move an automobile, unpack all items, etc.) remain similar to last year although most decrease slightly. However, the percentage of firms offering to move unlimited weight increases slightly (42%) after dropping significantly in 2009 (38% vs. 46%). Also, while the percentages of small and large firms indicating they cover unpacking all items are nearly identical to last year, significantly fewer mid-size firms do so (44% vs. 58%).

More than half of companies indicate they reimburse/pay to:

  • Pack all items (76%, similar to the past seven years except 2004 (85%)).
  • Move an automobile (68%, similar to the past seven years).
  • Move exercise equipment (54%, similar to the past seven years).

Overall, percentages of companies offering "non-core" relocation benefits to transferees or new hires decrease slightly compared to last year, although most remain similar to 2008-2009. However, the percentage of firms that pay to move highly valuable collections continues to decline (33%) after dropping significantly last year (36% vs. 43%), but remains above 2006-2007 (27%) and close to 2003-2005 levels (30%+). Last year this change was driven primarily by a significant decrease in large firms offering this coverage (37% vs. 61%); this year the percentage of large firms covering this item increased (46%) but the percentages of mid-size and small firms decreased (30% vs. 36% and 27% vs. 34%).

  • Internationally operating firms are more likely than regional firms to offer the following to transferees or new hires:
    - Pack all items (81% vs. 61%).
    - Move an automobile (75% vs. 52%).
    - Move a second automobile (52% vs. 26%).
    - Move unlimited weight (44% vs. 25%).
    - Move recreation/lawn equipment (43% vs. 30%).
    - Move pets (31% vs. 20%).
  • International firms are more likely than national firms to:
    - Unpack all items (52% vs. 29%).
    - Move via containerized shipment (34% vs. 19%).
    - Offer permanent/extended storage (33% vs. 21%).
  • Manufacturing/processing firms are more likely than for-profit service firms to:
    - Offer permanent/extended storage (34% vs. 21%).
    - Move a boat (19% vs. 9%).
  • For profit-service firms are more likely than manufacturing/processing firms to:
    - Pick up belongings from a secondary residence (22% vs. 11%).
  • Midwestern firms are more likely to pay for moving unlimited weight than are firms in the Southwest (51% vs. 29%); over a third of firms in other regions indicate they do so for transferees or new hires.
  • Firms in the Southwest are the most likely to reimburse/pay to have belongings picked up from a secondary residence (33%); less than one-fifth of firms in other regions do so for transferees or new hires.
  • Roughly half or more of Northeastern, Midwestern, and Southwestern firms reimburse/pay for partial/custom unpacking, while roughly a third of firms from other regions do so.

Specialized Assistance for Homeowners/Renters

The majority of firms offer specialized relocation assistance for employees who are homeowners, although small firms remain less likely than mid-size or large firms to do this. Over the past four years, the percentages of firms offering homeowner-specific assistance have remained mostly similar; however, those offering mortgage subsidies/allowances decreased significantly from 2008-2009 (15% vs. 22% and 23%). Those offering loss-on-sale, qualified home sale programs, and bonuses/incentives for employee generated home sales have steadily increased and are significantly greater than 2007 (28% vs. 20%, 38% vs. 31%, and 29% vs. 21%).

For homeowners, half or more of firms offer the following to transferees or new hires:

  • Temporary housing allowance (69%).
  • Home-finding trips (65%).
  • Storage (51%).
  • Reimburse/pay for home sale costs (50%).

The majority of firms offer specialized relocation assistance for employees who are renters, although small firms remain less likely than large firms to do so. Percentages of firms offering each type of renter-specific assistance decreased only slightly from last year with one exception: significantly fewer firms offer storage than in 2008 and 2009 (41% vs. 52% and 51%). Compared to the past seven years, significantly fewer firms are: reimbursing/paying for apartment search/finder's fees (29% vs. 38%+, 2004-2005), applying temporary living allowances toward rent (23% vs. 31%+, 2003-2006), reimbursing/paying for security deposits (19% vs. 27%, 2003), and reimbursing/paying for hook-up fees (16% vs. 24%+, 2003-2008).

For renters, more than half of firms offer the following to transferees or new hires:

  • Temporary housing allowance (63%).
  • Home-finding trips (59%).
  • Reimburse/pay for lease cancellation (56%).

While manufacturing/processing firms and for-profit service firms are similarly likely to offer specialized assistance to homeowners (90% vs. 82%) and renters (91% vs. 86%), manufacturing/processing firms are much more likely to offer most of the specific types of homeowner assistance than for-profit service firms. International and national firms are more likely than regional firms to offer nearly every type of homeowner-specific assistance listed, while regional firms are less likely than international and national firms to offer renter-specific assistance overall (72% vs. 88% and 91%).

Question 27: Transferee Reimbursement 2003-2010
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Question 27: New Hire Reimbursement 2003-2010
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Trailing Spouse/Partner Assistance

Employment Assistance Remains Stable

Nearly half (45%) of all firms offer employment assistance to the spouse or partner, similar to the highest levels reported over the past eight years. Among small and large firms, the percentages offering this assistance decrease slightly from 2009, but remain similar to the past seven years. However, the percentage of mid-size firms offering this assistance increases slightly over last year (47% vs. 44%) and is the highest in eight years. One out of every three relocations at small firms have typically utilized spousal employment assistance since 2005.

  • Most small firms that offer employment assistance provide networking assistance (83%); they provide this more often than mid-size or large firms (56% and 37%). Mid-size and large firms are more likely than small to offer outplacement/career services from an outside firm (44% and 61% vs. 13%).
  • Significantly more regional and international firms than national offer employment assistance (52% and 48% vs. 31%).
  • Regional and national firms are more likely than international firms to find employment within the company for an employee's spouse/partner (25% and 24% vs. 10%), and regional firms are more likely than national and international firms to provide networking assistance (81% vs. 52% and 49%). International firms are the most likely to offer outplacement/career services from an outside firm (54% vs. 29% and 16%).

The percentage of firms that say a spouse's/partner's employment "almost always" or "frequently" affects an employee's relocation remains similar to the past two years (40% vs. 42% and 39%). This is significantly lower than the high in 2007 (52%) and comparable to levels reported 2003-2006 (42% to 44%).

  • Regional firms are more likely than international firms to indicate the employment status of a spouse or partner often impacts relocations (49% vs. 36%).
Questions 32 and 37b: Employment Assistance: Trailing Spouse/Partner
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International Relocation Shifts

Short-Term Assignments Increase

The use of short-term international relocations (less than 12 months) increases among mid-size and large firms after retracting slightly last year. While 21% of small firms report short-term assignments are standard practice (identical to 2008-2009), nearly twice as many mid-size and large firms than last year (22% vs. 12% and 16% vs. 9%) report common use of this shorter assignment.

  • More large firms indicate the standard international relocation length is 13-35 months than small or mid-size firms (64% vs. 45% and 46%). However, large firms have the highest expectation for the increased use of temporary relocations internationally compared to mid-size or small firms (26% vs. 7% and 9%); a slight increase over last year (19%).
  • In 2009 roughly half (48%) of small firms indicated international assignments typically lasted 3 years or more; this year the percentage drops back to one-third, close to the values reported 2006-2008. Small firms are the most likely to predict decreases in the use of temporary relocations internationally in 2010 (15%). However, this is down dramatically from 2009 (31%) and similar to 2005-2008.
  • The expectation of increases in temporary international relocations among mid-size firms drops slightly from last year (7% vs. 12%) and remains significantly lower than the peak in 2007 (26%). Significantly more mid-size firms expect stability (85%) compared to last year (57%) and 2007 (63%).

 

International Outsourcing

Overall Level Decreases Significantly from 2008, Remains Similar to 2003-2007

Significantly fewer firms outsourced internationally in 2009 (62% vs. 74% in 2008), similar to 2003-2007 levels. Additionally, decreases occur in every outsourcing category compared to 2008 except intercultural/language training, which remains essentially unchanged. Outsourcing across most service categories nearly met or exceeded highs in 2008 compared to the previous five years, so most decreases simply return outsourcing levels to those of previous years. However, significant decreases occur in the outsourcing of household goods shipment monitoring (35% vs. 46%), household goods carrier contracts (34% vs. 47%), arrangement of international transportation for families (18% vs. 35%) and international real estate services (9% vs. 25%) compared to 2008. Additionally, outsourcing of international real estate services, securing of rental property, and family transportation arrangements fall to the lowest levels recorded by the survey.

The majority of both mid-size and large firms outsource international relocation services, as they have for the past six years. In 2008, for the first time a majority of small firms indicated outsourcing internationally (52%), but for 2009 this percentage fell to only 30%, slightly above 2004 and 2005 lows (28% and 23%) and well below 2006-2007 (38% and 49%). The percentage of large firms outsourcing internationally is nearly identical to 2004 and 2007 (78% vs. 76% and 77%), trending lower than the higher percentages in 2003, 2005-2006 and 2008 (85%, 83%, 82% and 84%), but remaining similar overall to the past six years. Roughly half of large firms outsourced destination services/orientation tours, intercultural/language training, visa/immigration services, shipment monitoring and household goods carrier contracts.

  • Fewer small firms outsourced international services compared to 2007-2008, but overall outsourcing across categories remains nearly the same or slightly lower than 2008 and similar to the past six years. Exceptions are for international real estate and visa/immigration services; significantly fewer firms outsourced international real estate services than in 2003, 2004 and 2007 (0% vs. 15% and 13%), and significantly fewer firms indicate outsourcing visa/immigration services than in 2008 (21% vs. 38%).
  • Outsourcing of international relocation services among mid-size firms generally decreases compared to 2008, although levels remain similar to most of the past six years across categories. However, the percentages outsourcing intercultural/language training, visa/immigration services, and repatriation services remain practically identical to 2008, nearly meeting or exceeding historical highs for these items. Conversely, percentages of firms outsourcing family transportation arrangements (22% vs. 41%) and household goods carrier contracts (30% vs. 53%) decrease significantly compared to 2008, falling close to the lowest levels in seven years.
  • Overall, outsourcing of international relocation services among large firms remains nearly the same or decreases slightly from 2008. While outsourcing levels generally remain similar to the highest levels historically across most categories, the exceptions are international real estate services, family transportation arrangements, and securing rental property, which all fall significantly below 2008 (9% vs. 32%, 17% vs. 41%, and 41% vs. 59%, respectively) to the lowest levels in seven years.

Among companies that outsourced relocation services domestically in 2009, the percentage that did so internationally remains similar to 2003, 2005-2008 (81% vs. 82%, 79%, 80% and 85%) and significantly greater than in 2004 (70%). In 2009, large and mid-size firms are similarly likely to outsource internationally and to outsource each service with two exceptions: large firms are more likely to outsource destination services/orientation tours and international relocation program management. Both mid-size and large firms are more likely to outsource international relocation services than small firms. However, firms of all sizes share a similar likelihood to outsource international transportation arrangements for families.

 

International vs. Domestic Policy

Most Additional Considerations Remain Stable or Decrease Slightly; International Employment Assistance Stable

Most firms (80%) report differences between domestic and international relocation policies in 2010, similar to the past 7 years except 2004 (88%). Overall, many policy consideration categories remain similar to last year (nearly the same or falling slightly lower), maintaining improvements over the greater declines in 2008. However, there are four policy considerations that significantly fewer firms indicate they offer, meeting or exceeding the lowest percentages in eight years: increased permanent storage allowances, higher relocation allowances, additional leave time, and extended per diem charges. The greatest reduction is in additional leave time, which is down significantly from 2008-2009 (16% vs. 30% and 31%) and 2003-2007 levels (when about half of firms offered this consideration) indicating a progressive decline in the use of this policy. The second largest decreases are in increased permanent storage allowances (34% vs. 46%+, 2003-2005 and 2009) and higher relocation allowances (33% vs. 45%, 2009).

  • While percentages for most policy considerations among large firms are nearly the same or decreased slightly from 2009, a few increased: additional tax considerations (79% vs. 75%) and additional leave time with a visit home (74% vs. 68%). However, nearly every consideration category percentage remains similar to previous years. Additional leave time and increased permanent storage allowances are exceptions that decrease to the lowest levels recorded (19% and 47%, respectively) significantly below previous highs when 6 out of 10 or more large firms offered these considerations to internationally relocating employees.
  • Policy considerations from mid-size firms trend lower across categories compared to last year except for intercultural/language training (59% vs. 49%), which increases to the highest level in seven years. While policy considerations generally remain similar to previous years, there are four items that fall significantly below 2009: higher relocation allowances (35% vs. 54%), increased permanent storage allowances (30% vs. 51%), additional leave time (13% vs. 37%) and extended per diem charges (11% vs. 28%). The percentages of mid-size firms offering additional leave time and extended per diem charges are the lowest in eight years.
  • Small firms see policy considerations remain similar to last year and most see slight decreases across categories. However, additional leave time with a visit home (45% vs. 38%), additional tax considerations (42% vs. 38%), and allowances for children to attend certain schools (27% vs. 21%) see slight increases. And although most individual considerations percentages remain similar to the past seven years, there are four exceptions: additional leave time, increased permanent storage allowances, higher relocation allowances, and higher rental allowances, which all fall significantly below historical highs in 2010 (15% vs. 44%, 18% vs. 40%, 21% vs. 43%, and 18% vs. 41%).

Forty-two percent of companies offer to help find jobs for spouses or partners relocating internationally, similar to 2007-2009 (46%, 42%, and 44%). More mid-size firms offer this assistance than did last year (48% vs. 38%), the highest percentage in eight years and significantly above the roughly one-fourth or fewer who offered this assistance from 2003-2005. While the percentage of small firms offering this assistance is down slightly from the highs in 2009 and 2007 (36% vs. 45% and 42%), it remains substantially above 2003-2006 and 2008 (19% to 28%). Forty percent of large firms offer this assistance, similar to the past seven years. Mid-size firms are more likely than small or large firms to pay for a work visa at the new location (22% vs. 12% and 9%); while small firms are more likely mid-size or large firms to find employment within the company for spouses/partners (15% vs. 7% and 2%).

Question 47c:  International Duration
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