An unprecedented housing crisis drove much of the pressure on relocation policies during the Great Recession. Even as the industry was in full-scale recovery last year, housing/mortgage concerns for the fifth straight year remained the top reason employees declined relocation. Large firms felt this most strongly (87% cite it). However, while around half of all firms saw employees decline relocation, far fewer saw an increase over the previous year. Employee reluctance (11%) continues to drop from the peaks of 2008 (28%) and 2009 (29%) as it moves closer to pre-recession levels of 7% to 9% during 2002 to 2006.
Large firms continue to be the most impacted by employees turning down relocation: nine out of ten report this occurred last year. Small firms were far less affected: only a third had employees say no. These percentages are similar to the past decade. However, mid-size firms have experienced greater fluctuations historically. From 2002-2008, the percentage of mid-size firms having employees decline relocation climbed from around two-thirds to three-fourths and then began progressively decreasing from 2009-2012. Only half of mid-size firms report any employees declined relocation last year, the lowest level in over a decade.
Fewer firms report that declining to relocate will negatively impact an employee's career trajectory. Roughly a third or more firms from 2003-2010 said this would hurt an employee's advancement opportunities, but this has progressively declined and only around a fifth of firms state this is now career limiting. The trend of a far lessened impact on career aspirations if relocation is declined occurs across company size.