Relocation Policy & Practice

 

Policy Types Expand, Creativity Tapped During Recession Flexed for Maximum Impact

Corporate professionals find themselves responsible for far more policy types than in the past. While the vast majority maintain formal policies for domestic (81%) and international relocations (83%), many also have policies covering short-term/temporary assignments (65%) and permanent international transfers (70%). Over half have extended business travel (52%) and international-localization (59%) policies as well, and 41% state a policy exists for long-distance commuter arrangements.

  • Mid-size and large firms are more likely to have policies in place for specialized arrangements outside general policies and they are more likely to maintain a formal domestic policy. Large firms are the most likely to follow a formal international policy.
  • Besides an increasing variety of policies, most firms continue to define levels or tiers within policies. The larger the firm, the more likely it is to follow a tiered or multi-level policy. Firms using levels manage two or more such policies on average across company size, based on a variety of factors
Question 17-1
Companies with a formal relocation policy: for domestic relocations
Chart Q17
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Question 17-2
Companies with a formal relocation policy: for short-term/ temporary assignments
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Question 17-3
Companies with a formal relocation policy: extended business travel
Chart Q17-3
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Question 17-4
Companies with a formal relocation policy: long-distance commuter
Chart Q17-4
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Question 18a-1
Does your company have different tiers within its domestic relocation policy...
Chart Q18a
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Question 18a-2
Average number of tiers (levels) within domestic relocation policy
Chart Q18a2
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Question 18b-1
What are your different tiers based on...
Chart Q18b1
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Question 18b-2
What are your different tiers based on...
Chart Q18b2
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Question 43f-1
Companies with a formal policy for: international relocations
Chart Q43f
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Question 43f-2
Companies with a formal policy for: permanant transfers
Chart Q43f-2
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Question 43f-3
Companies with a formal policy for: localization
Chart Q43f-3
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Question 43g-1
Does your company have different tiers (levels) within its international relocation policy?
Chart Q43g
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Question 43g-2
Average number of tiers (levels) within international relocation policy
Chart Q43g-2
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Question 43h-1
What are your different tiers (levels) based on?
Chart Q43h
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Question 43h-2
What are your different tiers (levels) based on?
Chart Q43h-2
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Candidate Assessments

Increasingly, firms are vetting candidates to determine assistance for successful relocation. Over the past three years, around half of firms reported they perform assessments on candidates prior to relocation; this year, nearly three-fourths state this is policy. The most popular method is to conduct assessments for all relocations (48%), roughly double previous levels (21%, 2012-2014). But markedly more firms are using assessments domestically, internationally, by policy tier/reimbursement level, or for transferees as well. These trends hold across company size. The expanded use of this tool following the Great Recession likely helps relocation professionals stretch budgets to meet business objectives.

Question 34-1
Does your orginazation perform candidate assessments prior to relocation offers
Chart Q34
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Question 34-2
Does your orginazation perform candidate assessments prior to relocation offers
Chart Q34-2
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Core/Flex Policy

As relocation volumes increased last year amid pressures from many different sources, professionals drew on solutions created during the recession. One popular technique is to incorporate core/flex elements into policy. Over the past two years, nearly three-fourths of firms took this approach; in 2015 nearly 9 out of 10 (86%) did so. Favored by mid-size and large firms in the past, core/flex usage is now similar across company size. Coverage for core components continues to be the most popular aspect across company size (either across all employee levels/categories or depending on employee level/category). But the percentages of firms offering flexible use of the full relocation benefit or a portion of it have roughly doubled.

Question 19a
Companies whose formal relocation policy utilizes aspects of core coverage/flex policy
Chart Q19a
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Question 19b-1
Aspects of core coverage/flex policy incorporated into relocation policy
Chart Q19b
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Question 19b-2
Aspects of core coverage/flex policy incorporated into relocation policy
Chart Q19b2
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Incentives

While use of incentives dropped in 2013, the vast majority of firms again used these last year. Since employee reluctance jumped substantially in 2014, a corresponding increase in incentives is not surprising. As housing/mortgage pressures lessened, far fewer firms offered extended, temporary housing benefits than did in 2013 (58% vs. 72%), although it remains one of the top three incentives offered. Relocation bonuses and cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) in salary rounded out the top three across company size.

  • Just under half of large firms using incentives offered a buyer value option (42%) or guaranteed buyout option (41%) for origin homes; they were far more likely to offer these than were smaller firms.
  • Mid-size firms were the most likely to offer a guarantee-of-employment contract for a specific length of time if relocation was accepted (46%).

Incentives continue to be highly successful in convincing employees to relocate: nine out of ten firms say they worked almost always or frequently, similar to historical levels.

Question 10a
Companies indicating they offered additional incentives to encourage employee relocations in 2014
Chart Q10a
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Question 10b-1
Additional incentives offered by companies to encourage employee relocations in 2014
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Question 10b-2
Additional incentives offered by companies to encourage employee relocations in 2014
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Question 10c
Frequency of incentives proving successful in convincing an employee to relocate
Chart Q10c
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Cost Containment

After an uptick in budget constraints last year as volumes leapt, it is not surprising that the percentage of firms using cost containment also jumped. Methods generated for survival during the recession are stretching resources as the demand for relocation faces budgets that have not kept pace with volumes over the past few years.

While the percentage of large firms using cost-containment methods is similar to percentages in recent years, markedly more small and mid-size firms used such tools last year than did previously. Overall, a greater variety of methods were used. While relocation required greater flexibility (i.e. core/flex, incentives), a variety of cost-containment methods also proved appropriate. Generally, capping relocation benefit amounts remained the most popular. At the same time, percentages reporting these methods roughly doubled: restructuring policy tiers/eligibility for benefits; offering pre-decision counseling; and utilizing short-term/extended business travel/commuter arrangements.

Question 21-1
Cost containment measures that could have been used in relocation policy/practice in 2014
Chart Q21
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Question 21-2
Cost containment measures in relocation policy/practice used in 2014
Chart Q21-2
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Alternative Assignments

In addition to changing the allocation of budgets, the Great Recession seems to have made a lasting mark on how relocations are performed. Roughly two-thirds of firms now use alternative assignments of some type, far more than in the previous three years. While the percentage of large firms using such arrangements progressively increased over the past four years (73% vs. 60%, 62% and 66%), the percentages of mid-size and small firms using them has more than doubled compared to 2014 (75% vs. 37% and 48% vs. 19%, respectively). Additionally, while alternative arrangements were key to business strategy in prior years, they are now just as important as replacements for long-term assignments. However, there is no overarching method for their use inside mobility policy; nearly every potential use is indicated by roughly a third or more of firms, regardless of company size.

When determining whether to use an alternative assignment, the three “key factors” are job function, assignment purpose, and cost, similar to previous years. However, the percentages citing assignment purpose (53% vs. 66%+) and cost (51% vs. 64% in 2013) have fallen dramatically, while job function remains similar to historical levels. The percentage of firms using alternative assignments in response to employee requests jumped markedly from last year (43% vs. 31%).

Question 27-1
Is your company utilizing "Alternative Assignments"...
Chart Q27
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Question 27-2
Is your company utilizing "Alternative Assignments"...
Chart Q27-2
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Question 27a-1
How are "Alternative Assignment" arrangements incorporated into your organization's overall employee mobility strategy?
Chart Q27a
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Question 27a-2
How are "Alternative Assignment" arrangements incorporated into your organization's overall employee mobility strategy?
Chart Q27a2
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Question 27b-1
Key factors determining "Alternative Assignment" use
Chart Q27b
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Question 27b-2
Key factors determining "Alternative Assignment" use
Chart Q27b2
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