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Employees Declining Relocation

Housing/Mortgage Concerns Lessen Further;
Family-Centered Concerns Continue to Dominate

For the past five years, family issues/ties has held the top spot among reasons relocations were declined by employees, with spouse/partner employment in second place over the same period. This, combined with the diminishing impact of housing/mortgage concerns, paints a picture of the dual-income household with family commitments as key to why employees decline a relocation offer.

  • Housing/mortgage concerns has fallen the last five years; it is within pre-recession levels for the third time since 2007 and at the lowest level in more than 15 years. Across company size, housing/mortgage concerns falls within pre-recession levels for the second year in a row and is the lowest in more than 15 years among small and large firms. Mid-size firms were more affected than were small or large firms (28% vs. 14% & 16%).
  • Family issues/ties continues to take the top spot among firms of all sizes, although it ties with spouse/partner employment among small firms.
  • Spouse/partner employment remains near the highest levels recorded since the turn of the century. Its impact had fallen to 39% in 2011, likely due simply to the difficulty of obtaining employment; it retains a 16% gain over this low (55%).

Roughly six out of ten firms saw employees decline relocation last year, which falls in the mid-range historically. Increased employee reluctance reported for 2017 falls just within post-recession levels (18% vs. 11%-18% during 2010-2013) after trending higher the previous three years (2014: 28%; 2015: 22%; & 2016: 20%), notably below the highs of 2008 (28%) and 2009 (29%). Additionally, more than a tenth of firms across sizes state reluctance to relocate decreased last year. Although pressures to decline are still present, this suggests a lessening of challenges, especially from housing concerns, are helping employees feel freer to relocate.

  • Far fewer small firms (39% vs. 48% & 55% in 2015-2016) saw employees decline relocation last year, falling back to historically normative levels. Increased reluctance also fell below recessionary levels for small firms (14% vs. 15%-19%).  Increased reluctance at mid-size firms remains similar to 2016 (20% vs. 21%) and lower than in 2014-2015 (30%) but remains within recessionary ranges (20%-30%) over the past four years. However, even though increased reluctance among large firms ticked upward (19% vs. 12%), it remains markedly lower than recessionary levels (40%+) and within post-recession recovery ranges (7%-21%).
  • More than half of firms of all sizes cite spouse/partner employment as a reason employees declined relocation last year, remaining near the highest levels seen since 2002.
  • Family issues/ties was cited more often by mid-size and large firms than by small firms (63% & 71% vs. 53%), while the percentages citing spouse/partner employment are remarkably similar (53%-56%).
  • Mid-size and large firms indicated undisclosed personal reasons or the destination location itself as factors more often than small firms (40% & 55% vs. 29%; 40% & 38% vs. 27%). It appears employees are less likely to disclose what personal reasons are at issue for declining a relocation, the larger the firm extending the offer. Additionally, larger firms typically have far greater numbers of locations to which they may be relocating employees, with desirably of locations varying widely, so it’s understandable this may present a greater challenge to larger firms.
Question 8
Companies that had employees decline the opportunity to relocate in 2017
Chart Q8
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Question 9
Companies indicating declining relocation usually hinders an employee's career
Chart Q9
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Question 11
Did the number of employees declining relocation in 2017...
Chart Q11
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Question 11a-1
Reasons employees gave for declining relocation
Chart Q11a
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Question 11a-2
Reasons employees gave for declining relocation
Chart Q11a2
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