Relocation as a Strategic Tool

by Michael Haberman on November 11, 2010 · 0 comments


One of the things I try to get across to students in the classes I teach is to view human resources in their company as a SYSTEM. Most of them have a tendency to think in terms of PROGRAMS. When you think in terms of “programs”, such as compensation program, safety program, benefits program, performance management program, you imply a discreteness that does not actually exist. What actually occurs is that changes in a program have an effect in the system. And if you are not aware of that you may be setting yourself up for some unintended consequences that could end up being problems. Sometimes very expensive ones.

One “program” that I have not thought of in awhile is relocation. I had never really thought of relocation as a strategic tool. But the fact that it is, especially in today’s marketplace, was made much clearer to me in a conversation with Jill Heineck, a new blogger who writes a blog called Inside Relocation. In a new post entitled Relocation: Strategic Planning Leads to Top Talent Jill makes the statement “When asked when was the last time they reviewed their relocation strategy, most say, “Strategy? What strategy? You mean program. We look at that all the time.” No, I am not referring to the policy or program, but the strategy, in that the way it is used to attract and retain top talent, and adding to the bottom line.”

The fact that a strategy approach should be used, rather than a programs approach, is shown in her statement “… to provide more predictable results … plan how to leverage your relocation strategy creatively, by collaborating with the executive teams that are impacted by relocation, such as Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Marketing and Finance.

My experience as always been that relocation is an after-thought. It is something touted up front in a simple statement of “we offer relocation” and worried about the recruitment is done. Only then do you discover the problems. Jill has an example of just such a problem. “…They had made the offer and he had accepted. But there was a hitch. Relocation benefits were never discussed, and once they began to delve into the candidate’s real estate situation, they then delved into his financial situation. And then they realized it was a bust. The company wasn’t prepared to spend the kind of money required to help the candidate make the move.” And as it turns out the candidate could not afford it either. NO PLANNING = FAIL and loss of money.

Since relocation is not an issue most HR folks have any expertise in I suggest that if you deal this you subscibe to her newsletter. It can be found at Focus Relocation. (And in case you are wondering, I have no financial stake, or any other stake for that matter in her business. I just think it is an area few of us HR types know anything about so I wanted to point out the resource.)

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