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Employees Declining Relocation

For the past six years, family issues/ties has taken the top spot among reasons for declined relocations, while spouse/partner employment has held second place. The impact of housing/mortgage concerns has lessened notably during this period. Dual-income households with family commitments continues to be a prime reason for declined relocations.

  • Near its lowest point in more than 15 years, housing/mortgage concerns remains within pre-recession levels for the fourth time since 2007 and for the third year in a row across company size. However, one in four firms indicated it still played a role in their employees’ decisions to stay put.
  • Family issues/ties continues to take the top spot among firms of all sizes, although it nearly ties with spouse/partner employment among small firms. It was cited more often by mid-size and large firms than by small firms (60% and 63% vs. 50%).
  • 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 to the Great Recession’s effect on employment opportunities; it retains a 14% gain over this low (53%).

When asked about the number of employees declining relocation in 2018:


Employee reluctance in 2018 rose above post-recession levels (26% vs. 11%-18% during 2010-2013) after trending lower last year (18%) and is closer to the previous three years (2014: 28%; 2015: 22%; 2016: 20%) and the highs of 2008 (28%) and 2009 (29%). While more than a tenth of firms across sizes saw reluctance decrease last year, it appears the pressure to decline offers experienced a slight uptick overall, even as organizations worked to secure talent in the right locations.

Slightly more small firms (46% vs. 39% in 2017) saw employees decline relocation last year, jumping closer to 2015-2016 levels (48% & 55%) and above historical norms. Increased reluctance also jumped above previous recessionary levels for small firms (26% vs. 15%-19%). Increased reluctance at mid-size firms also rose notably over the prior year (32% vs. 20%), moving above the 2014-2015 level (30%) and over the recessionary ranges (20%-30%) for the previous four years. However, even though increased reluctance among large firms is elevated (18%) compared to 2016 (12%), it remains markedly lower than recessionary levels (40%+), similar to 2017 (19%), and within post-recession recovery ranges (7%-21%).

6 out of 10 firms saw employees decline relocation last year, in the mid-range historically.

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