Why are relocation programs failing?

It’s an increasingly important retention tool but research shows many businesses are still struggling to meet employees’ expectations

Why are relocation programs failing?
Ambitious employees often want the chance to work overseas or in different cities and with many organisations increasing their geographical reach, global mobility can be a win-win situation – but only when done right.

Disappointingly – and despite its increasing importance – the majority of businesses are failing to relocate talent effectively.


Fewer than one in five (18%) of globally mobile professionals believe their organisation’s relocation program is meeting all of their expectations, according to an industry survey by MOVE Guides and the RES Forum.

None of the respondents said their organisation’s talent mobility program exceeded expectations.


According to the Talent Mobility Survey, the most common challenges with such programs include high costs (64%), compliance risks (62%), and having too many points of contact (51%.)

MOVE Guides CEO and founder Brynne Herbert said that the sheer number of people involved in moving an employee makes the process incredibly intricate.


“Typically, when a company moves someone, a business unit will send a request for the move and then they’ll contact the talent mobility department to provide the cost estimate,” she said. “Then that will need to be approved by the business unit and the finance department. Sometimes there will be a recruiter involved, and the local HR business partner will need to be contacted, and after that the employee is authorised to commence their move.”

The growing list of stakeholders does not end there – “When your employee is moving there’s all sorts of different vendors you need to consider that provide various services, such as the shipping company, the travel provider, the temporary housing contact,” Herbert added.


While a successful move can only be operated by a well-oiled and fully functioning machine of many different parts, Claire Fox, global HR director for Save the Children International, said HR leaders should never lose sight of the person at the centre of it.

“As long as people feel they and their family are treated considerately they are generally resilient and willing to accept setbacks. However, if people feel that their and their families’ personal needs are being disregarded they will not be so forgiving or cooperative.”

“To do this cost efficiently and in a way that works well for both the assignee and their family, as well as the employees in the local organisations, is extremely complex and time-consuming.”

Unsurprisingly, a quarter of respondents identified talent mobility as the most time consuming and complex HR function – a greater percentage than learning and development, reward, and performance management combined.
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